Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

You may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you have been drinking alcohol excessively every day and suddenly stop.

The longer you have been drinking steadily and the more heavily you drink every day will determine whether you have symptoms of withdrawal and how severe these symptoms may be.

Other factors that can determine how severe a person's withdrawal symptoms are include having other medical problems or psychiatric disorders.

Why is it important to know the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? Who should know what these symptoms are? 

(1) Anyone that knows these symptoms and sees them in a friend or family member will be much more able to help that person get the proper help.

(2) If you have a problem with alcohol, you should be aware of these withdrawal symptoms. 

- You need to know them if you are trying to quit. 
- You need to know them so that if you are experiencing these symptoms at anytime, you can determine whether your symptoms are serious enough that you need to seek medical help to save your life.

Alcohol withdrawal can lead to death if it is serious enough and not treated early enough. 

Not everyone will necessarily go through withdrawal when they stop drinking, but most people who have been drinking for a long time or drinking heavily will have some degree of withdrawal, especially if they stop "cold turkey." For that reason, it is best to consult your doctor before attempting to stop suddenly.

The onset of symptoms varies, but usually occurs between 5 to 10 hours after last drinking, although it can take much longer. The length of time withdrawal lasts is different for every individual. Withdrawal symptoms can be physical as well as psychological.

PSYCHOLOGICAL Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms










extremely emotional with quickly changing emotions


inability to think clearly

rapid thoughts


PHYSICAL Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms


dilated pupils 


difficulty sleeping 

loss of appetite 

nausea and vomiting 


fast heart rate 

sweating, clammy skin

tremor of hands or other parts of the body 

involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids 

visual hallucinations 

fever which can become very high


All of these symptoms may occur together or separately. It is different for each person. These symptoms should not be taken lightly. They can lead to very serious consequences, even death. Withdrawing from alcohol can be done most safely and painlessly under the supervision of a doctor.

If you are being evaluated by a medical professional for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you will be checked for:

abnormal eye movements 

rapid heart rate and/or abnormal heart rhythm 



general body shaking 

rapid breathing 

shaky hands 

Blood tests may be performed, especially those to check liver function and possibly a toxicology screen. 

If you are ready to stop drinking alcohol, you do not have to do it alone and you do not have to suffer through symptoms like these without help. There are medical professionals who can make sure you are safe. There are treatments to eliminate or at least decrease the alcohol withdrawal symptoms you are going through. Most importantly, you want to make sure you or the person you are assisting is kept safe.

There are several different aids that are available to help you go through alcohol detoxification. They include:

- alcohol rehab centers, alcohol treatment centers

- alcohol detox programs, substance abuse programs

- addiction counseling

- support group meetings that allow you to talk to others who have the same problem.

- sober living homes

- inpatient alcohol treatment

- outpatient alcohol treatment

- Alanon

- AA online

- online forums are available that may be of help. 

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