Withdrawal from alcohol can be a painful process. It’s normal to experience some side effects when you stop drinking, but it’s important to know what they might be so that you don’t get discouraged or frustrated. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on the individual and how much the person drank before stopping. They generally peak between 24 and 72 hours after you quit drinking and subside after about 7 days.
Sober living programs like AA meetings are helpful for those who want to ease themselves back into normal life after quitting drinking cold turkey. The side effects of alcohol withdrawal can make going through the process that much harder, but they’re not something you have to deal with if you stop drinking responsibly. Keep reading to learn more about common side effects from alcohol withdrawal.
About one-third of people experience nausea during alcohol withdrawal. Sometimes it’s mild, and sometimes it’s severe. It may feel like you have the flu or have a stomachache. The intensity of the nausea can make it difficult to eat, drink water, or go to the bathroom. The nausea can be reduced with anti-nausea medications like ondansetron (Zofran), which is FDA-approved to reduce the severity of nausea related to cancer treatment and surgery. In many cases, medication alone isn’t enough to relieve the nausea. In this case, you may need to try different medications or take more than one dose at a time.
Vomiting is a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. It can occur at any time during withdrawal and lasts for up to two days. Some people vomit out of necessity, because the body is trying to expel toxins or fluids. Others vomit for psychological reasons or as a way to cope with anxiety or depression. If you vomit, don’t try to stop or suppress it. Instead, let yourself vomit and try to relax while doing so. Try to eat something if you can, or try drinking water. If you don’t feel better after 15-30 minutes, drink some water, or talk to your doctor.
Some people experience insomnia during alcohol withdrawal. In this case, you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This is often caused by anxiety or worrying about the negative consequences of withdrawal. Try calming yourself by taking a warm bath before bed, drinking a cup of hot tea, or practicing deep breathing. If you have trouble sleeping, take an anti-anxiety medication before bed.
Alcohol withdrawal can cause an increase in generalized anxiety and a decreased ability to relax. To relieve anxiety, try taking a warm bath, drinking a cup of hot tea, or listening to relaxing music. If anxiety doesn’t go away on its own, you can try taking an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax or a smaller dose of an anxiety medication like Klonopin.
Depression is one of the most serious risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, but it’s also one of the most treatable. The key is to develop a plan that helps you cope with withdrawal and get the most out of your time in recovery. Keep a journal, write down feelings, and talk with trusted friends and family members. If you feel like you’re developing depression, talk to your doctor. Treatment options include talk therapy and medications like Zoloft and Wellbutrin.
Other Common Side Effects From Alcohol Withdrawal
There are a variety of other side effects from alcohol withdrawal, including:
- blurred vision
- decreased sexual desire
- heart palpitations
- muscle pain
- abdominal pain
- back pain
- joint pain
- weight loss
Protection From Harmful Effects of Alcohol
The side effects of alcohol withdrawal can help you protect yourself from the harmful effects of alcohol during withdrawal. These include: – Protection against delirium tremens (DTs): Alcohol withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable, and it can cause hallucinations that can be terrifying. During withdrawal, you may also experience intense anxiety and feel suicidal.
It’s important to have access to medical care and have someone you can talk to while going through alcohol withdrawal. A safe, supportive environment with treatment and love can help you feel better and reduce the risk of ending your life. – Protection against memory impairment: Drinking regularly can affect your memory. It may get better with time or stay the same. Withdrawal can help protect your memory by reducing the toxins that may be affecting it.
Signs of a Dangerous Withdrawal Reaction
Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms are normal and should subside after a few days. It’s important to note, however, that some can be a sign of a dangerous reaction to alcohol withdrawal. These include:
- Severe nausea or vomiting that doesn’t go away
- Nausea can signal a dangerous or life-threatening reaction to alcohol withdrawal, so get to an emergency room or a detox program immediately if this happens.
- Severe diarrhea – If you vomit and experience severe diarrhea, you may be dehydrated and in danger. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent this.
- Seizures – This side effect can be a sign of a dangerous reaction to alcohol withdrawal, so get to an emergency room or a detox program immediately if this happens.
Which Side Effect Should You Be Concerned About?
If you’ve been drinking heavily for a long time, it’s unlikely any side effects will be severe or dangerous. As long as you’re safe drinking, you’ll be fine. In that case, you might want to be concerned about the potential for memory impairment or alcohol dependence. If you’ve been drinking for less than a year, however, one common side effect is mood swings. It’s important to note that your mood will probably change more when you quit than it does when you drink, so don’t worry too much about it.
Alcohol withdrawal is a painful process that can be especially difficult for those who have been drinking for a long time. For people who drink to excess, it’s important to stop drinking cold turkey, but it’s also important to be prepared for the process by getting counseling and treatment. Each person’s experience with withdrawal is different, and some side effects are likely to be milder than others.
It’s important to remember that you’re doing good by getting help and slowing down. If you’ve been drinking heavily for a long time, it’s important to get support and medical help during withdrawal. The side effects of alcohol withdrawal can be a sign that you need to seek medical attention, so make sure you get help if you notice any of them.
If you need additional resources and want help overcoming your addiction or helping someone you care about, call 855-334-6120 with your questions.