Alcohol Withdrawal: Currently, in the United States, over 14 million men, women, and children struggle with the effects of excessive alcohol use.

It may sound strange to think of a person’s alcohol intake as a factor influencing whether they develop substance abuse or addiction. But according to medical professionals across the country, problematic alcohol consumption is contributing just as much to addiction rates in the United States as drug abuse.

Problematic Alcohol Consumption can Result in Negative Physical and Psychological Symptoms for People of all Ages

Problematic Alcohol Consumption can Result in Negative Physical and Psychological Symptoms for People of all Ages

It can be a hard reality for many of us to face; after all, it is socially normal for Americans to drink heavily. But the fact of the matter is, although drinking alcohol can be nice, have physical health benefits, and allow us to bond socially. At the end of the day, prolonged alcohol misuse can leave us with many unpleasant symptoms and mental disorders.

And the most severe cases of alcohol abuse can leave us battling life-threatening symptoms.

Drinking and its Relation to Substance Abuse Treatment

Currently, over 30 million Americans are struggling with substance abuse. And indeed, most of these conditions relate directly to drug abuse; however, despite the prevalence of substance use disorders being primarily related to drug addiction. Today, any medical provider can tell you that drinking problems also play a massive role in substance abuse.

Drinking may be a standard social construct in the United States. But, even though drinking is accepted as a social norm does not mean it is always safe. There are safe ways to drink alcohol. And there are many ways to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and What Does it Have to Do with Chronic Excessive Alcohol Intake

Today, substance abuse treatment providers define alcohol use disorders as mental health conditions.

And as chronic brain diseases, AUDs, like drug addiction, are known to affect every aspect of an individual’s life, from their finances to their overall physical, mental, emotional, and relational health. According to the Mental Health Services Administration, like drug use disorders, alcohol use disorders evolve from patterns of misuse. And can involve a range of mild symptoms and severe effects. Usually, an AUD can be characterized by alcohol cravings, impulse control issues, and negative emotional and physical states. Typically alcohol disorders begin with occasional excessive drinking. And then eventually move to repetitive, chronic neglect patterns.

And once a neglect pattern solidifies, alcohol dependence can begin to affect a person’s central nervous system. Thus, causing severe symptoms of addiction to start manifesting in their lives.

Of course, not everyone who drinks will become an alcoholic. But AUD rates are rising, so people must know of the dangers alcohol misuse can bring. Because once an AUD forms, it can be hard to get rid of.

The Alcohol Detox Process and Addiction Treatment Centers

In many cases, people who struggle with alcohol addictions must seek a detox process in a rehab facility or a specific treatment provider to receive the professional treatment advice they need to recover. Why do you ask?

Because AUDs can prove highly volatile.

No two alcohol use disorders will present themselves in the same ways because no two people are precisely the same. Many symptoms can occur due to problematic drinking, and some of these effects can be milder, while some can be more severe.

In the end, addiction treatment centers and professional treatment providers are the only things that can ensure a person recovers from alcohol dependency as safely as possible.

Yet, before an individual can begin a rehabilitation program in any specific treatment center or with any specific treatment provider, they must first experience alcohol withdrawal and work through the detox process.

What Are The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Today, any certified addiction professional will admit alcohol withdrawal syndrome and chronic alcohol use are complex substance abuse problems to live with.

<a href=Alcohol Detox Symptoms Can Range from Mild to Severe ” />

Alcohol Detox Symptoms Can Range from Mild to Severe

And treating such conditions can be just as challenging. Currently, addiction treatment providers listed two general ways a person can experience alcohol withdrawal. First, there is the average withdrawal method, which occurs over two weeks. And then, there is post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) which can complicate an individual’s recovery for months, maybe even years, after they have their last drink.

However, this process usually includes two phases.

The first phase is the acute phase of withdrawal. In this phase (the first 24 to 72 hours after they take their last drink), individuals are likely to experience the worst discomfort accompanying the detox process. Once they complete the acute section of withdrawal, they can then move on to the second phase of detox, which deals with the lingering symptoms of alcohol cessation (post-acute withdrawal). Now, although it is uncomfortable to experience withdrawal symptoms, it is necessary. A person cannot have their last drink and move into recovery without having withdrawal symptoms experienced. Additionally, in most cases, withdrawal is short-lived and can be alleviated by using some prescribed medications in alcohol and drug rehab.

Like alcohol use disorders, the withdrawal process comes with symptoms and side effects. Some of the most commonly experienced alcohol withdrawal side effects include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Alcohol hallucinosis
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Increased irritability
  • Sweating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Hyper-alertness
  • Vivid dreams

The symptoms range can be mild, moderate, or severe.

While most people who go through alcohol detox are more likely to experience the more mild withdrawal symptoms, an individual can develop PAWS or experience other severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, like delirium tremens.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Delirium Tremens

Although it is not common for a person in alcohol and drug rehab to develop delirium tremens (which can have life-threatening side effects), about 90% of all people in alcohol detox are likely to experience PAWS in some form. Now, it is essential to note that experienced treatment providers listed post-acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal syndrome as two separate entities.

For instance, post-acute withdrawal refers to the second phase of alcohol detox in an addiction treatment facility.

Meanwhile, post-acute withdrawal syndrome is what a specific treatment center listing will refer to as a secondary condition. In a typical withdrawal process, post-acute symptoms wear off in about a week or two. But with PAWS, severe symptoms can continue to occur for months, maybe even years, after an individual stops drinking alcohol.

The two conditions have made enough appearances in recovery attempts for researchers to consider adding the syndromes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. According to treatment centers across the country, although rare, PAWS can cause a person to develop delirium tremens.

And as a member of both the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, alcohol detox can onset, delirium tremens can cause other severe withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Hyperthermia
  • Increased agitation
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

And even more severe withdrawal symptoms that have life-threatening potential.

Not every client who experiences alcohol withdrawal will suffer from the same symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms typically relates to how long an individual has abused the substance if they drink. And can also be affected by any pre-existing conditions they may have and whether they used drugs in conjunction with their drinking patterns.

The good news is, even though alcohol detox can be scary. And even though healing from addiction can sound like an impossible task. At the end of the day, an alcohol treatment facility can help you or your loved one overcome problem drinking.

What Are The Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

There are many symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. Some of these symptoms are emotional, some are psychological, and others are physical.

It is sometimes hard to differentiate these symptoms from normal bodily functions. Some of the most common physical side effects of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitation
  • Tremors/shakiness
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sweating

How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Your body is unique. Men, women, and children share many physical, psychological, emotional, and genetic similarities.

In the end, your body still operates on its own accord. These symptoms affect everyone differently. Every individual who develops an AUD will suffer from the same side effects in diverse ways. Everyone who works through withdrawal will feel the same symptoms at varying intensities. No two-alcohol abuse and withdrawal stories are the same. Despite this, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can still be mapped out based on their shared factors. So, how long do alcohol withdrawal symptoms last? It depends on the person.

The most frequent applied alcohol withdrawal timelines suggest anywhere from two days to a couple of weeks. The primary alcohol withdrawal timeline looks like this:

6 Hours After Alcohol Cessation:

  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin to set in. Symptoms are typically mild, although heavy abusers may experience seizures within the first 6 hours after consuming their last alcoholic drink.

12 to 24 Hours After Alcohol Cessation:

  • A small number of clients may experience hallucinations during this period. Typically, this side effect does not appear, leaving clients to deal with the initial mild discomfort of shaking, sweating, vomiting, irritability, etc.

24 to 48 Hours After Alcohol Cessation:

  • Mild to moderately intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms persist. Clients more frequently experience headaches, stomachaches, and side effects that include trembling in this stage. Clients working through very mild forms of the alcohol withdrawal process may see their symptoms peak in intensity here, tapering off anywhere from four to five days after the cessation.

48 to 72 Hours After Alcohol Cessation:

  • Clients working through severe withdrawal processes may experience delirium tremens. This stage brings about more intense, long-lasting side effects that include increased heart rate, high body temperature, and the risk of experiencing seizures.

After 72 Hours Post Alcohol Cessation:

  • At 72 hours, alcohol withdrawal side effects are at their worst. Clients may experience significant discomfort at this time and need extra support/motivation to continue their recovery path. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms only last for five days or up to a couple of weeks. In some rare cases, alcohol withdrawal effects may persist upwards of a month after drinking cessation.

When Did Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Everyone reacts to alcohol, alcoholism, and withdrawal differently. Therefore, your body is unique and will respond to outside substances in its own way.

Despite the differences our bodies express, they also hold many similarities. Excessive drinking can lead to alcohol abuse patterns, dependency, and in some extreme cases, addiction. Alcohol addiction can be treated over time. The first step of alcohol addiction recovery treatment is the alcohol withdrawal process.

The alcohol withdrawal process manifests in everyone differently. Some individuals may experience very mild withdrawal symptoms, their process beginning and ending in a matter of days.

Other clients may suffer longer-lasting withdrawal effects, typically dealing with the consequences of more excessive abuse patterns. Despite the differences, these symptoms also have many similarities, ranging from impacts to the general timeline in which symptoms occur. So, when do alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start? Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin from 6 to 12 hours after alcoholic cessation, stopping all drinking, and symptoms usually peak within 24 hours after termination.

Which Medication is Used to Prevent Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

You may be asking yourself, “isn’t the alcohol withdrawal process an essential step to healing and overcoming abuse/addiction patterns?” Yes, it is. So why make medication to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

Is there even a medication that exists and works to prevent alcohol withdrawal side effects from occurring? Addiction is challenging, and healing is complex. Alcohol withdrawal is uncomfortable 95% of the time. Very few people experience mild withdrawal processes, although they are possible. Many individuals work through extremely uncomfortable withdrawal stages.

In Some Instances, a Treatment Provider May Use Medications to Help the Recovery Process Along

In Some Instances, a Treatment Provider May Use Medications to Help the Recovery Process Along

Since addiction and healing are so hard, why make the withdrawal process any harder? Suppose medical professionals and rehab specialists can help ease a client’s discomfort, helping them stay focused on their task to heal. In that case, the individual’s motivation stands a better chance of keeping them moving towards recovery. There are many ways to treat alcohol addiction and withdrawal. One of the most common methods of this treatment includes the use of medications to help alleviate more intense symptoms. The medication does not remove all withdrawal side effects but makes the symptoms much more manageable for clients to live with and work through. Some of the most common medications used for alcohol withdrawal alleviation include:

FDA Approved Benzodiazepines for Alcohol Withdrawal (Help Control Anxiety and Lower Risk of Experiencing Seizures):
  • Oxazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Clorazepate
  • Chlordiazepoxide
Anti-Convulsant Medications (Help Lower the Risk of Experiencing Seizures):
  • Valproic acid
  • Gabapentin
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Carbamazepine

Barbiturates: (Under Ongoing Study to Determine Exact Effectiveness, Although Proven to Help Treat Alcohol Withdrawal)

Disulfiram: (Typically Used in Alcohol Rehab for General Treatment, Not Just Withdrawal)

Naltrexone: (Used to Help Treat Alcohol Dependence)

Acamprosate: (Used in Conjunction with Counseling and Peer Support to Help Restore Balance in a Client’s Nervous Systems)

Not every client needs medication to help them work through alcohol withdrawal and recovery. Even so, studies have shown that the use of medication assistance can help clients remain abstinent for extended periods.

It can also help improve their overall mood while still in their treatment facility and solidify their resolve to continue working towards sobriety as they work through the withdrawal process with less discomfort. Alcohol addiction, withdrawal, and recovery look and works differently for everyone, and what might work for you may not work for your friends or loved ones. Additionally, not every treatment center or treatment provider will work for each patient.

The great news is that treatment is designed to fit individuals and their specific needs. And most program plans will be tailored to you or your loved one based on your individual needs.

Does Xanax Help with Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Alcohol withdrawal is often an uncomfortable process to live through. Although this recovery phase is not typically life-threatening, alcohol withdrawal can have dangerous side effects.

The use of specific medications like benzodiazepines helps manage these harmful symptoms, making the process much safer for individuals who have suffered long-term abuse conditions in the past. Xanax, otherwise known as alprazolam, is a type of benzodiazepine drug. Since alprazolam is a benzodiazepine medication, does Xanax help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

Although Xanax is a benzodiazepine medication, it is not an alcohol withdrawal or rehab treatment option. Xanax has abuse potential. Paired with other types of medicines used in alcohol withdrawal and rehab, it onsets adverse side effects. So although Xanax is a benzodiazepine type medication, it is not used to aid in this process. The alcohol withdrawal phase of addiction rehab can be dangerous if not treated correctly.

As a result, care and precaution help ensure these medications will not harm the individuals taking them more than aiding them.

St. John’s Recovery Place as an Alcohol Detox and Treatment Provider

In the end, alcohol addiction, and withdrawal affect everyone differently. Here at St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP), we work hard to ensure our clients receive the best quality treatment possible.

Our innovative inpatient, outpatient, and medical detox programs help clients overcome alcohol addictions and withdrawal stages every day.

SJRP's Holistic Healing Practices Will Help You Prepare to Live Life Alcohol-Free

SJRP’s Holistic Healing Practices Will Help You Prepare to Live Life Alcohol-Free

If you or a loved one struggles with an alcohol use disorder or addiction, help is available for you. Visit us online today, or call our website’s main phone number at 1-833-397-3422 to learn more about our rehab programs and see how you can get started on your treatment journey today!