Withdrawal from alcohol can begin as soon as six hours after the last drink.
When not done in a medical setting, withdrawing from alcohol can be potentially deadly.

Withdrawal from alcohol can begin as soon as six hours after the last drink. The most severe symptoms usually peak within the first few days into the withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can last a few days to a few weeks depending on personal health, and severity and frequency of use.

Acute Withdrawal

Often times, for the first few days, the alcohol dependent person will experience extreme fatigue, intense nausea, vomiting, and heightened anxiety, and flu-like symptoms. This is known as the acute withdrawal phase. Tremors and raised blood pressure is also common. If the dependence to alcohol was severe enough the alcoholic may experience a condition known as delirium tremens, or DT’s. With this condition, the alcoholic may experience more intense body tremors, irritability, hallucinations, restlessness, dangerously high blood pressure, and seizures.

Post-Acute Withdrawal

As the withdrawal continues, the stage goes from acute to post-acute withdrawal. The post-acute withdrawal phase can last from ninety days to two years. During the post-acute phase, the alcoholic may experience foggy thinking and lack of concentration making it difficult to focus on and complete work-related tasks and school work. They may also experience memory loss, insomnia or feeling exhausted all the time making having a normal sleeping pattern problematic, and endure uncontrollable emotions. The alcoholic may also experience problems with responding to stress appropriately including unrealistic amounts of anxiety, cravings, and not getting pleasure out of things you once did as a symptom of depression.

What Causes These Symptoms?

Many of these psychological symptoms are a result of the brain responding to the lack of alcohol that it is used to having. When you use alcohol, you are stimulating the functioning of the gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA receptors, which are what controls the feelings of calm and relaxing. The problem with alcohol abuse is that it makes the GABA receptors dependent on alcohol, thus not allowing the drinker to have their GABA receptors function properly on their own. When this happens, anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia are experienced. When the brain is resetting its chemical functions, the brain begins to feel fuzzy creating difficulty with functioning normally in daily life.

How to Avoid Withdrawal

In order to not fall victim to withdrawal symptoms, do not binge drink. Binge drinking can be thought of as five or more alcoholic drinks in the course of two hours if you are a man, and four or more alcoholic drinks in two hours if you are a female. Furthermore, avoid drinking two or more days in a row. If you have experienced alcohol withdrawal in the past, you are more likely to experience it more easily if you begin to drink heavily. It is best to simply abstain from alcohol if you have previously experienced alcohol withdrawal.

Distributed by Client Initiatives

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