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Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

a woman leans against a mirror and holds her hands to her temples thinking about the effects of alcohol abuse

If you are considering entering an alcohol use disorder treatment program, you may be concerned about experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Going through alcohol withdrawal can be a physical, emotional, and psychological challenge.

At Evoke Wellness at San Marcos, we understand the difficulties that come with seeking treatment for alcohol addiction. Our compassionate and supportive team is here to help guide you through the recovery process. To learn more about what our San Marcos alcohol detox program offers, contact Evoke Wellness at San Marcos at 888.450.2285.

Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Serious?

The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms varies for each person and is influenced by several factors. Your general health and the length and severity of your alcohol use disorder play a role. If you have been through detox at least once and have co-occurring conditions, symptoms may be more severe.

The American Academy of Family Physicians describes alcohol withdrawal as having three potential levels—mild, moderate, and severe. For most people, symptoms begin at mild and peak at moderate. However, each person’s experience is different.

Mild symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Flu-like symptoms

Moderate withdrawal can include all of those symptoms plus:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Mild hyperthermia
  • Rapid breathing

During the third (severe) stage, a person might also experience:

  • Seizures
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

While severe symptoms like seizures and DTs are rare, they do pose a health risk. Because of these risks, detoxing alone is never recommended, especially for people with a severe and prolonged history of addiction.

Medically supervised detox centers provide the medical care and mental health support needed to help people detox safely and in comfort. Receiving detox care also helps patients start benefiting from recovery programs sooner. Well-managed detox symptoms support good mental health and help patients maintain a more positive attitude.

Understanding the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline for withdrawal generally takes the same course for everyone, but each individual’s experience is different. Symptoms typically begin within around eight hours after a person has had their final drink. Mild symptoms may continue for the first 24 hours and then begin to worsen.

Generally, symptoms peak within 24–72 hours. Within that period, more severe symptoms may arise. If seizure or delirium tremens occur, immediate medical care is required.

Some patients experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS symptoms include severe alcohol cravings and anxiety. The symptoms of PAWS are considered mainly psychological. They do not pose an immediate health threat but do put patients at greater risk for relapse.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol Abuse?

Continued heavy misuse of alcohol can have a profound negative impact on mental and physical health. Only one drink causes your organs and digestive system to react in disruptive ways.

Alcohol causes the kidneys to dry out, stresses the liver, and can cause digestive upsets. Binge drinking even once increases the risk of heart damage, high blood pressure, and alcohol poisoning.

Long-term effects of alcohol use include but aren’t limited to:

  • Addiction and physical dependence
  • Loss of gray and white brain matter
  • Loss of memory
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Liver cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Pancreatic disease
  • Lowered immune system
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Weakened bones, broken bones, and fractures
  • Mental health disorders such as depression
  • Financial or career loss
  • Divorce, family estrangement
  • Homelessness
  • Legal trouble

Alcohol use can also lead to violent behavior, including domestic violence. It increases your risk of fatal injury and suicidal ideation.

Call Evoke Wellness at San Marcos to Start Alcohol Detox

Don’t let concerns about enduring painful or dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms stop you from getting the life-changing treatment you need. Medically supervised detox provides medications and other interventions that keep patients safe and healthy.

You don’t have to go through detox and addiction recovery alone. To learn more about our detox and alcohol treatment programs, contact Evoke Wellness at San Marcos today at 888.450.2285.