Although some people can have an occasional drink without it becoming a problem, many people become dependent on alcohol, resulting in significant harm. Alcohol abuse can cause life-threatening medical problems, ruin personal relationships and make it difficult for people with alcohol use disorders to enjoy productive lives. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to stop drinking due to alcohol-related changes in the brain.

Alcohol use is extremely common in the United States, with nearly 70% of adults surveyed in the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reporting they’d consumed alcohol at least once during the previous year. Because alcohol is so readily available, binge drinking is also a serious concern. Nearly 26% of adults reported that they had engaged in binge drinking within 30 days of participating in the survey.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox

People with alcohol dependence can’t just stop drinking on a whim. Their bodies have become so used to the effects of alcohol that they need to continue drinking to prevent the brain from getting overly excited. When someone with an alcohol addiction suddenly stops drinking, they experience a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. This is known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (“alcohol withdrawal”).

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Not everyone going through alcohol withdrawal experiences the exact same symptoms. The severity of an individual’s alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually depends on how long they’ve been drinking and how much alcohol they consumed each day. Addiction treatment professionals note that some people are prone to increased discomfort due to the “kindling” effect that occurs when someone repeatedly goes through alcohol withdrawal and relapses. If someone has already gone through alcohol withdrawal, they’re likely to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms the next time they stop drinking.

Mild Symptoms

Mild withdrawal symptoms cause discomfort, but they’re not life-threatening. According to MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, these are some of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Increased nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, putting them at risk of dehydration and other complications. Severe symptoms may include rapid heart rate, tremors, hallucinations, and alcohol withdrawal seizures. Some people also develop a set of life-threatening symptoms known as delirium tremens (“withdrawal delirium”). People who develop delirium tremens are typically disoriented and have high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, severe agitation and other concerning symptoms. Delirium tremens can be fatal, especially in people with a history of heart conditions or problems with the central nervous system.

woman experiencing hallucinations

Medical Detoxification (“Alcohol Detox”)

Because alcohol detox can cause severe discomfort, many people benefit from alcohol withdrawal treatment delivered by experienced medical professionals. During a formal detox program, people suffering from alcohol use disorder can stop their alcohol consumption under close supervision, reducing the risk of serious complications.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Minor symptoms of withdrawal begin as soon as six hours after a person’s last drink. For a person experiencing mild symptoms, it typically takes four to five days for the symptoms to subside, although they usually peak in severity around 18 to 24 hours after consuming alcohol for the last time. Delirium tremens typically develops 48 to 72 hours after alcohol consumption.

Medical Supervision

One of the main benefits of medical detoxification is that it provides a safe, supportive environment for people who need substance abuse treatment to start recovering from excessive alcohol use. Going through alcohol withdrawal alone can be scary, especially for people who experience severe withdrawal-related symptoms. Many people relapse not because they don’t want to stop drinking but because they can’t make it through the withdrawal process without support.

A medical detox program blends medical care with emotional support, making it easier to recover from prolonged alcohol use. Upon entering detox, each individual undergoes a comprehensive assessment to identify any medical or psychological factors that could increase the risk for complications. During the program, licensed medical professionals are on hand to monitor each person closely and act quickly in the event of any seizures, hallucinations or other concerning symptoms. The extra support makes it easier to work through alcohol cravings and eliminate alcohol from the body before entering a residential or outpatient rehab program.

medical detox

Addiction Treatment Options

Completing a medical detox program is just the first step in recovering from alcohol use disorder. Once the alcohol has been eliminated from the body, it’s important to receive treatment from trained professionals. Calusa Recovery is a Florida-based treatment facility that specializes in helping men recover from alcohol abuse and other addictions. We offer adventure therapy, family therapy, and a variety of other services to help patients improve their mental health and overall well-being.

To learn more about Calusa Recovery and explore the many treatment options available, call (844) 254-9664.