Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal

Alcohol addiction withdrawal makes it hard to overcome alcoholism. This article reviews what to expect during withdrawal and how to maintain sobriety. 

Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal

Alcohol addiction withdrawal makes it hard to overcome alcoholism. This article reviews what to expect during withdrawal and how to maintain sobriety. 

Table of Contents

What Are Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms?

Alcoholism is a common problem in America and all over the world. Millions of people have substance abuse issues and, for many of them, this comes in the form of a drinking problem. One of the reasons that alcohol is so addictive is that it causes alcohol addiction withdrawal. After an addiction forms, that person becomes so used to having alcohol in their system that they cannot function without it. If they are unable to drink, they begin experiencing alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms like nausea, irritability, fever, and more.

The individual knows the only way to cure alcohol addiction withdrawal is to go back to drinking. Therefore, many people relapse during the detox process. Alcohol withdrawal is not pleasant, but it is treatable. Here’s what to expect at the various alcohol withdrawal stages.


After six hours someone may experience…
  • Tremors
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid pulse
After twelve to twenty-four hours someone may experience hallucinations, and after twenty-four to forty-eight hours they may have alcohol withdrawal seizures.

Why Do People Experience Withdrawal Symptoms?

what are alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms arrow passage recovery

Alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms occur as the body tries to get used to functioning without alcohol. Here are the various ways the body is affected. 

Nervous System

When alcohol addiction withdrawal occurs, the brain attempts to function normally without the presence of alcohol.2 This issue leads to hyperactivity of the nervous system that causes rapid pulse rates and breathing, anxiety, irritability, and other symptoms. 


When you become physically dependent on drugs, your body gets used to their presence in its system. When you abruptly stop taking the substance, your body becomes violently ill while trying to adapt. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a term used to characterize signs of withdrawal. Symptoms usually dissipate within five days, but in some cases, they can last several weeks or even months. Symptoms can also be quite severe and fatal at times. 

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?

Withdrawal symptoms typically kick in within the first 8 hours of alcohol detoxification. They will usually go away in about five days but, in some cases, they will last for weeks or months.  

Who is at Risk for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can happen to anyone who drinks heavily and stops abruptly. Here are some factors that come into play. 

Binge Drinking 

Binge drinking is defined as a period of drinking where people raise their blood alcohol level to at least .08 within two hours. Binge drinkers rarely have an ongoing drinking problem, but they may experience alcohol addiction withdrawal after a bender.  

Medical History 

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal could be more severe if you are dealing with medical conditions that can worsen during the withdrawal phase. For example, people with a heart problem will not do well if withdrawal is affecting their blood sugar and heart rate. People with anxiety and depression will also experience extreme mental challenges.  

Family History of Alcohol Abuse 

People who have a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop a drinking problem. As a result, these people will be at higher risk for alcohol withdrawal syndrome.   

Alcohol Withdrawal Stages

Alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms become more severe as patients move through the process. Here is what you can expect:

  • Stage 1 (Mild): During the first stage of withdrawal, you will experience symptoms like anxiety, nausea, fever, racing heartbeat, and difficulty sleeping. Although these symptoms are potentially dangerous, they will be tolerable early on.
  • Stage 2 (Moderate): In the second stage of withdrawal, patients’ symptoms become more intense, and they may also experience hallucinations.
  • Stage 3 (Severe): Withdrawal symptoms typically peak around the twenty-four to forty-eight-hour mark. At this stage, patients may even experience an alcohol withdrawal seizure that can be fatal.  

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detoxification involves allowing the body to rid itself of unhealthy substances. You can try to detox on your own at home, but you will have a higher success rate if you opt for medically assisted detox. 

First Stage of Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

Detoxification is typically the first stage of alcohol addiction treatment. A medical staff oversees the patient and administers medications to keep them as comfortable as possible. Their supervision reduces the risk of relapse. 


Patients will have a better chance of getting through alcohol withdrawal if they receive the following treatments.

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal

Patients will have a better chance of getting through alcohol withdrawal if they receive the following treatments.


Counseling is a short-term form of mental therapy usually targeted to solve a specific issue.

Treating Underlying Problems

Alcoholism often stems from underlying problems. Therapy is used to identify the problems to treat alcoholism at its root.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a type of free group therapy. It is based on the twelve-step program and integrates spirituality.3


Medication can be administered by a medical professional to reduce alcohol addiction withdrawal symptoms.


There are several types of therapies that can be used to treat addiction and help patients get through withdrawal. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT),4 dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT),5 motivational interviewing (MI), and more.6  

How Arrow Passage Can Help

Many rehab facilities treat alcoholism, but at Arrow Passage, we take an approach that sets us apart.

We evaluate each patient and determine a customized treatment that is best suited to their personal needs. We offer assisted detoxification and follow up with a dual diagnosis process that treats the problem at its root. We provide outpatient and inpatient services ensuring everyone we treat gets the comprehensive care they need to overcome sobriety.

Alcoholism is a potentially fatal disease. Do not let it take over your life. If you or a loved one is showing signs of alcohol addiction, do not hesitate to call Arrow Passage and take your first step on the path to happiness and recovery. 

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