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Alcohol Detox and Symptoms of Withdrawal

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

Reaching out for help with alcoholism can be daunting. Knowing that your last drink really is the last drink can cause anxiety. Soon after, physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal set in that are painful to endure. It isn’t easy. However, help is available. Visiting our alcohol detox center in Jacksonville, FL, will enable you to overcome alcoholism and cope with alcohol withdrawal.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal?


Anyone who has experienced a hangover knows that the morning after a drinking binge can be painful. However, the temporary headache and nausea of occasional overdrinking have nothing on alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can be experienced by anyone who has developed a dependency or addiction to alcohol, and they begin to set in after just a few hours without a drink.

Alcohol stays in the system for about an hour per drink consumed. Within five to 10 hours from having the last sip, tremors and shakes can begin in the head and hands. Soon after, a person may start to feel nauseous and develop a headache. Psychological symptoms like fear and anxiety may start to appear around this time. These will intensify and may even outlast physical discomfort. After a few days without a drink, fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances caused by nightmares all set in. There will also be bouts of anger and irritability.

About one in 20 habitual drinkers will experience DTs within several days of quitting, with the more severe, life-threatening consequences occurring in the first 24 – 48 hours. Due to the danger of death in the early stages of recovering from a long-time addiction, detox should include medical stabilization and supervision in a safe environment at an alcohol detox center or rehab facility.

Are you ready to get help?

If you’re ready to take the first step toward finding recovery, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery today. Our addiction specialist can answer any questions regarding our program and addiction treatment programs that are available to you. We can help you begin treatment at our detox center in Jacksonville, FL, so you can take the first step to a life without alcohol.

What are Common Alcohol Detoxing Symptoms?

Anyone ready to begin the process of recovering from alcohol addiction will need to start the process with a detox. A detox is a cessation of alcohol consumption, and it can be tricky for those who are addicted. Because of the many alcohol withdrawal symptoms that crop up during withdrawal, it’s always recommended to go to a professional treatment facility. Understanding more about the symptoms of an alcohol detox may help prepare those ready to begin recovery, as well as their loved ones.

Mental Health Problems Like Anxiety and Depression

A significant overlap already exists between individuals who struggle with mental health conditions and those addicted to alcohol. Even among those without mental health concerns, however, a detox can result in depression and anxiety. These feelings are normal as the body learns to function without alcohol. A dual diagnosis treatment program helps alleviate severe mental health symptoms and provides a resource to prevent the development of a permanent mental health condition. Additionally, therapeutic interventions can help manage thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Sleep Issues

Some of the most commonly reported alcohol abuse side effects are related to sleep. Discomfort can mean that patients find it tougher to get to sleep and stay asleep. Insomnia, therefore, is quite common during detox from alcohol. It’s also possible to suffer from nightmares that disrupt sleep. As can be expected, these sleep issues lead to fatigue for many individuals.

Shakiness, Tremors, and Restlessness

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, tremors are a clinical feature of alcohol withdrawal. Physically, this is the body’s way of reacting to the stress of withdrawal. Similar muscular side effects common during an alcohol withdrawal include things like tremors that can’t be controlled or restlessness, which might manifest itself as pacing or constant fidgeting.

Digestive Concerns

During a stay at an alcohol detox center, those in recovery frequently report digestive problems. These are typically minor, and might include some of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

High Temperature

Temperature regulation can be disturbed significantly during detox from alcohol. Many people in withdrawal from alcohol are much hotter than normal, even if the ambient temperature is quite cold. They might be flushed, run a high temperature, and sweat more than usual. Due to this sweating and possible digestive concerns, dehydration is a significant issue that needs to be treated during a detox.

Delirium Tremens

One of the most serious signs of alcohol withdrawal is a condition called Delirium Tremens. This disorder is known in the vernacular as having the DTs, and it occurs when detoxing from alcohol after heavy or long-term use. Some of the symptoms are severe tremors, hallucinations, and confusion. In extreme cases, it can cause death due to heart failure or seizures.

Fortunately, delirium tremens isn’t one of the more common alcohol detoxing symptoms, and it occurs in just 5% of patients. However, it needs to be addressed to ensure that all patients become aware of it. Delirium tremens, or DT, can cause seizures, extreme confusion, and even hallucinations.

While the most common alcohol detoxing symptoms aren’t pleasant, they can be managed in a professional detox facility. At Stepping Stone Center for Recovery, you can get the right care to make your detox more comfortable. Call 866.957.4960 to verify your insurance and to begin your journey to recovery today.

How Does Alcohol Detox Work?

Alcohol abuse disorder is a chronic condition that affects brain function first and then destroys the body. It’s treatable by using medication to address the physical aspects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and therapy to deal with the root causes of addiction. Since the craving for alcohol can continue for years after total abstinence, we recommend ongoing support to maintain sobriety.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin within the first few hours without a drink and last for weeks into sobriety. Although each person is different, detoxing from alcohol follows a general timeline.

First 24 Hours

This period is characterized by sweating, rapid heartbeat, and generalized anxiety. Nausea and vomiting may start, and heavy drinkers will begin to experience the shakes.

Within 24-48 Hours

Symptoms will peak then begin to taper off within the first 48 hours. This is the most dangerous time during alcohol detox. The symptoms are at their most severe, and the possibility of seizures or heart failure is highest in the first few days. Night terrors, panic attacks, and hallucinations are common at this time if recovering from severe addiction or long-term dependency.

From 3-5 Days in

Those with milder addictions will continue to experience low-grade anxiety and mood swings for the remainder of the first week sober. However, this is the period when Delirium Tremens will begin to affect a small percentage of seriously dependent drinkers.

After the First Week

During an alcohol addiction treatment program, therapists and clinicians help each individual begin to re-train their thought processes toward of life of abstinence. Heavy drinkers will continue to deal with lingering health and psychological effects of long-term, chronic alcohol use. The strongest symptoms include mood swings, increased irritability, and fluctuating energy levels. Depression is another common side-effect in the first few months. These feelings will come and go, tapering off as time passes.

Medications Used During Detox

Our clinical and medical teams evaluate each case individually. However, most alcohol withdrawal treatment programs progress along this general timeline. Medically assisted detox is begun soon after assessment and admission into an inpatient facility and is continued with constant monitoring for up to a week. The medications used during this process can include a mild pain reliever to deal with head and body aches.

Standard rehab protocol includes the use of benzodiazepines to manage anxiety and prevent seizures. It will also help with sleep issues and prepare for the work ahead in rehabilitation. Then, clinicians and therapists can address underlying health and mental health issues and begin treatment.

Medications Used to Treat Alcohol Dependence

The FDA has currently approved three drugs to manage severe alcohol addictions and prevent relapse, but they are only useful after completion of the initial detox. Antabuse (disulfiram) is a drug that causes violent flu-like symptoms if someone drinks alcohol within 72 hours of taking the medication. It’s designed to discourage alcohol use by creating an aversion, but it only works with highly motivated individuals who take Antabuse as prescribed.

Campral (acamprosate) and ReVia (naltrexone) both work to reduce cravings for alcohol. Using Campral inhibits the release of chemicals that signal addiction by blocking the affected neurotransmitters in the brain. ReVia was originally indicated as a deterrent to opioid use, but it has been found even more effective when used to reduce alcohol cravings.

With medications to help in the initial stages of withdrawal and ongoing support throughout the rehab process, a sober life is more than possible. Just take the first step. Reach out to Stepping Stone Center for Recovery’s alcohol detox center at 866.957.4960 today.

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