Alcohol Withdrawal

alcohol withdrawalThe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are exceptionally unpleasant, as I’m sure you know. There are physical symptoms and emotional ones. Let’s start with the most extreme to get it out of the way – death.

Yes, if you’re physically dependent on alcohol, then a sudden withdrawal as opposed to a gradual detox can actually kill you or leave you with brain damage, usually via a seizure (a bit like an epileptic fit). Heart palpitations are the milder form of this. But lets hope you’re not quite that bad just yet (if you are drinking over 70 units per week for a woman or 100 for a man, then at least try to cut down gradually, or better than that – see a doctor).

On to the less fatal withdrawal symptoms then, we have hallucinations (usually unpleasant – spiders or snakes are common), the shakes, nausea and vomiting, oh and diarrhoea of course. Particularly unpleasant is waking in the middle of the night soaked in cold sweat, or alternatively, your own piss. It’s not sounding like a party exactly, is it?

Then you might have a splitting headache, often from severe dehydration and dilation of blood vessels. Basically the brain shrinks away from the lining of the skull. Ouch!

Hypoglycaemia, caused by the inability of the liver to metabolize sugar, can then leave you feeling irritable, nervous or aggressive, and weak.

You might end up with a few more emotional effects too, like mood swings, depression or confusion. Basically feeling like the lowest form of life on the planet.

So how can you make alcohol withdrawal easier?

  • Electrolyte replacement might help (the sachets you can get for diarrhoea are the best), along with plenty of liquids.
  • Complex carbohydrates (like brown rice, wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals etc.) will help to slowly stabilize your blood sugar levels.
  • Eggs contain Cysteine, which can help the liver to metabolize Acetaldehyde (the toxic by-product of alcohol).
  • B-vitamin supplements are essential, as they help your nerve cells to recover from the damage you’ve inflicted.
  • We all know about the healing powers of caffeine – this constricts the blood vessels and can therefore alleviate the headache.

But to be on the safe side, if you’re drinking most mornings in order to get through your hangover, or you often get the shakes and sweats if you haven’t had a drink for a while, then you really should get some medical support before you consider withdrawing.

2,090 Comments

  1. Gary 2 February, 2017 at 7:10 am - Reply

    I had to stop drinking. I knew i did. I went to my gp. I was basically told buy more drink and try and cut down. I did the worst thing and just stopped and put up with it (not easy). How can a gp say that.

  2. Louie 5 October, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

    God bless all. Im hear for yall all

  3. Rebecca 28 July, 2016 at 11:51 am - Reply

    This is day 2 for me this is hard I only 27 I have been drinking 9 years but is day 3 any better ??

  4. Anonymous 18 June, 2016 at 1:29 am - Reply

    My conditions are the same-..can’t walk to the kitchen feeling weak but it gets better

  5. sivuyile 27 March, 2016 at 11:32 am - Reply

    I am now starting to worry,I haven’t been drinking for three months now,after years of drinking,I am now confused bcoz a week ago i had flu used med-lemon as usual i didn’t even sweat but it got better stlll when i cough or sneeze my head aches sideways.i also have a new job that requires me to drink milk everyday and my stomach is running non stop i feel weak,dehydrated,my question is can it be the alchohol widrawal symptons?

    • Rebecca 29 March, 2016 at 8:08 am - Reply

      I don’t think it would be 3 months after stopping drinking. I think it may be lactose intolerance?

  6. Lally 20 September, 2015 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I know I need help but I need a clear gp report for work.
    I hate what I’ve become in the summer I had a one night stand and I felt so cheap I sat in the shower for an hour when I got home.
    Ppl have started to notice I drink too much and I just want it to go away but I’m struggling withdrawl
    I’m sat here now wanting a drink
    I keep going hot and cold and was sick this am
    I’d love to go back to my job but I need to be free of this
    I have no one to talk to

    • R 2 October, 2015 at 6:17 am - Reply

      Hi Lally, what do you mean you need a clear GP report? Thu may not pick up on much on an exam (believe me)! Are you still there? I’ve been through a lot too in the past maybe I could help.

  7. Mand 13 July, 2015 at 12:41 am - Reply

    Hi.
    I have just been released from my 3rd detox in hospital.
    The first time 2 years ago I was drinking around 2 bottles of wine per day and was taken in by my boyfriend as I had developed lack of appetite and endless vomiting for days. I didn’t notice to be honest how much I was drinking in hindsight. Luckily I was released the following day having undergone fluid drips and vitamin drips over night.
    I managed to cut back to just weekends. I didn’t think much of it.
    A further year later after letting myself slip, I couldn’t give a reason, possibly for confidence, it became that I was drinking a litre of vodka per day. Still functioning, until I started to make rash decisions and my friends slowly didn’t want to know me, I lost my boyfriend and job. I drank 2 litres of vodka that week night and collapsed in my own vomit alone at home. I was there 2 days unable to move for shaking, falling. Unable to move to use the bathroom. I managed to crawl to the phone and dial emergency after 50hours of hell. I had palpations and sweats as I tried to crawl to the laundry hamper to get at least some dignity but I couldn’t undress. Luckily my flat door was open and they put me on a stretcher, fetched me some clothes from my room and called my parents. It took a week of detox, and one seizure and resuscitation before my parents would realise how bad it had gotten. I stayed with them for a month after before the strength was up to go home.
    Again, things got good again. I had a new found health and glow, a new job and was dating again.

    Now this is where I hope I’ve had my last. Again being vodka after another failed relationship. I had been abstinent for months. The hopeless heartache and thinking that at 37 I was destined no decent life, I took the pain away the worst way. Whilst no symptoms of severity the first day, the next afternoon there were voices in my bedroom, people running about downstairs, banging and groaning. I was so frightened I screamed and then the room was upside-down down. I vaguely remember a passer-by calling for the police department and they found me once again almost blue from hyperventilating. I was put on monitoring and everything again. However this time was almost 3 months in medical facilities. I lost all savings for paying for my treatment, I cannot work. It still hurts now, I still sweat at night, if i miss my meds or get dehydrated i get jaundiced. If I make any kind of recovery from this, i shall be so lucky.
    Medication for the rest of my time, and specialized diet. I have a health worker come to my home, and have to have my few friends shop for me. The experts say it’s all up to me now.

    I do believe one thing though, after remembering the vile conditions i lived in, the embarrassment i have caused and the waste of medical practise, i truly wish i had asked for help that first time. Please try all to be better than i was. Good luck everyone, don’t let shame stop help

    • Jane Killips 24 June, 2016 at 4:01 pm - Reply

      I have just seen this. How are you now?

  8. Kimberley craig 3 June, 2015 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    I have found this the last few days

  9. Anne 14 April, 2015 at 12:32 am - Reply

    Thank God I found this site. It may save my man’s life. Shaking and miserable sleeping fourteen or twelve hours a night not eating much. I know he thinks he’s the only one. This bad was drinking a fifth a night for years he’s 57 are there any of you who quit later in life? Anyone that has had ibogain treatment? I’m praying for us all.

    • Danny 27 May, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      I was drinking 26 oz of vodka a day lost gf job, it does get better I’m only 30 but tapering was my only way the withdrawal symptoms were horrific couldn’t even walk to the kitchen

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