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What Are the Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal?

woman peering out the window thinking about the signs of alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is a term used to describe several symptoms when someone dependent on alcohol suddenly stops drinking. This can develop as a result of someone trying to quit drinking or begin when someone with alcohol dependence has been at least six hours without a drink. Detoxing alone without being a part of an alcohol detox program could be dangerous.

Without the support of medical professionals, some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can become severe and potentially life-threatening. Learn more about the signs of alcohol withdrawal, health risks during withdrawal, and alcohol withdrawal treatment from our team at Vertava Health Texas. You can call us at 844.311.8395.

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawal is a key sign of alcohol dependency, which can develop due to alcohol abuse. Early signs of alcohol withdrawal can begin within as little as six to eight hours after a person’s last drink. Later symptoms can arise in the following days, with the person growing more uncomfortable before symptoms peak.

Withdrawal is an uncomfortable experience that can disrupt a person’s work or domestic life, making it difficult to get through the day without drinking. In this way, people dependent on alcohol may feel like they have to drink to feel normal. The primary sign of alcohol abuse and withdrawal is being unable to go a day without drinking. As a result, you may notice a person drinking during the day, sneaking drinks at work, or joking about how sick they feel if they do not drink.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is a condition that occurs in the body and can affect your physical, emotional, and mental state. Early signs of alcohol withdrawal (6-12 hours after last drink):

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Heart palpitations

Later symptoms (24-48 hours after last drink):

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Disorientation
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts

These signs of alcohol withdrawal typically peak two to three days after withdrawal begins. Following this peak period, most physical symptoms will gradually reduce and disappear.

Delirium Tremens

Severe or chronic alcohol use can put a person at risk for a severe type of alcohol withdrawal known as delirium tremens (DT). Symptoms of DT can become life-threatening without medical support. These symptoms include:

  • Severe confusion
  • Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • High fever
  • Seizures
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate

Symptoms of DT most often begin within the first 48 hours of alcohol withdrawal. This form of alcohol withdrawal is rare but more common among chronic alcoholics and people without a robust support system to help manage symptoms. Other factors that can predict the likelihood of DT include:

  • Older age
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • History of severe alcohol withdrawal
  • Very heavy drinking
  • Dehydration

How Long Can Alcohol Withdrawal Last?

The acute stage of alcohol withdrawal generally lasts a week. However, the exact timeline can vary for each person based on how severe their alcohol dependency is, if they have any other drugs in their system, and other personal factors.

Acute withdrawal refers to the initial phase of your body adjusting to the lack of alcohol in your system. It’s within this stage that most symptoms begin and later dissipate. Due to the potential health complications, entering an alcohol detox program for alcohol withdrawal is recommended.

What Is the Detox Process?

Detoxification, or detox, allows drugs or alcohol to leave a person’s system. The safest way to detox from alcohol is to enter a medical detox program. This is offered within many addiction rehab centers, including Vertava Health Texas. This can be the first step in alcohol use and addiction treatment.

Detoxing within a formal detox program is highly recommended, as trying to do so at home can be uncomfortable and dangerous. Trying to detox without professional support also increases the chance of relapse. Medically supervised detox programs for alcohol withdrawal offer:

  • 24-hour monitoring
  • Secluded setting
  • Hydration and nutritional support
  • Use of medications to ease withdrawal symptoms

Detox programs typically last between 5 to 7 days to cover the acute stage of alcohol withdrawal. However, it is not uncommon for certain symptoms—such as depression, alcohol cravings, and anxiety—to continue for weeks or months afterward.

The best way to get support for these continuing symptoms and to avoid relapse is to enter an inpatient or residential treatment program for alcohol addiction. This can connect people to treatments for managing symptoms and provide a supportive space for people to learn how to remain sober.

What Happens After Detox?

After detox, most people will need to enter an addiction treatment program. This is because detox only helps a person through the acute stage of alcohol withdrawal and does not provide long-term sobriety solutions. Treatment programs for alcohol addiction can vary in length, but most last at least 30 days. These programs focus on helping a person develop healthy coping and sober living skills.

Treatment programs will also help address co-occurring disorders contributing to alcohol abuse. For example, Vertava Health Texas offers treatment for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders that often occur alongside alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Detox and Treatment at Vertava Health – Texas

Vertava Health Texas rehab center offers a peaceful and secure environment for people to detox from alcohol under the supervision of medical professionals. Our detox services provide patients with a robust support system and access to treatments for symptom relief as they undergo the initial stages of withdrawal.

However, we also recognize that recovering from alcohol addiction can be a long-term process that requires additional support beyond detox. Through our residential alcohol rehab program, patients at Vertava Health Texas can receive treatment for persistent withdrawal symptoms and learn healthy coping skills for sobriety. Treatment within our alcohol use and addiction program includes:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Mindfulness and stress management practices

Alcohol treatment at Vertava Health Texas is tailored to meet each person’s needs for treatment and recovery. Contact us today at 844.311.8395 to learn more about our alcohol detox services and residential treatment program for addiction.