There is evidence that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a few hours after you have consumed your last drink, which most people are unaware of. For some people, these symptoms can have a serious impact on their lives. As a general rule, alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak three days after you stop drinking, and most people start feeling better after four or five days after they have stopped drinking.
You will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol after you have been drinking every day or almost every day for a long period. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual. Several factors affect how long and how severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms last, including the amount of alcohol you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and whether you’ve ever experienced withdrawal symptoms before.
When to Seek Medical Assistance
While detoxing under medical supervision is recommended, if you choose to detox at home because you are not a chronic drinker, be aware of the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal so that you can seek medical assistance if necessary. Shaking, sweating, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, irritability, and headaches are some withdrawal symptoms. More severe symptoms include seizures and hallucinations. Seek medical help if you experience any of these symptoms. If you’re detoxing at home under the care of a doctor or other health care provider, follow their instructions carefully and let them know if you have any problems.
Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol
A person’s withdrawal symptoms are often assessed using a scale called the Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-Ar). The scale numbers range from 0 to 60, with higher numbers indicating worse symptoms. Treatment is guided by the severity of symptoms, with more severe cases requiring more intensive treatment. In determining the best course of treatment for their patients, doctors can use this scientific scale.
Nutritional Support for Withdrawal
Consult your doctor if you’re concerned about withdrawal symptoms after taking CIWA-Ar but still plan to detox at home. Your body can be affected by withdrawal symptoms. In addition to dehydrating, you and making you tired, it can also deplete your body of nutrients. Doctors may prescribe specific vitamins and minerals to treat these deficiencies, like the following:
- Folic acid is prescribed because its essential for cell growth and development. Pregnant women who drink alcohol must take folic acid.
- Thiamine is prescribed because it prevents brain damage because of its importance for nerve function.
- Magnesium is prescribed because it can relieve muscle cramps after drinking, which is essential for muscle function.
Medications for Withdrawal
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If you have a history of alcohol abuse and are in good health, your doctor can help you determine whether you are likely to experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. You may be able to attend therapy and support groups during mild withdrawal.
If you experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, agitation, poor sleep, nausea, and vomiting, you may need medication to help you. Hospitalization may be necessary if you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be reduced with benzodiazepines. Alcohol withdrawal can also be treated with neuroleptic medications. Verapamil, naltrexone, and bupropion are some of the other medications that may be used.
A General Withdrawal Timeline
Based on average withdrawal symptoms, researchers have created a timeline chart. The following are possible withdrawal symptoms:
- 6 hours after the last drink: Heavy drinkers may have a seizure six hours after stopping.
- 24 to 48 hours after the last drink: There may be minor withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, tremors, and nausea.
- 48 to 72 hours after the last drink: Some people experience DTs, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. A high body temperature, seizures, or an extremely high heart rate may result from this.
- 72 hours after the last drink: Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually peak now. Moderate withdrawal symptoms include rapid heartbeat and hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there).
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