drinking problem

Drinking Problem: What is Withdrawal Like?

Approximately 15.1 million adults in the United States currently suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse. Of all these people struggling with drinking problems, only about 6.7 percent of them actually get help.

Some people never get help because they don’t realize they have a problem. Others are afraid of what will happen when they stop drinking.

If you think you may be struggling with a drinking problem, keep reading.

Explained below are some signs you ought to watch for, along with information on what to expect when you go through withdrawal.

Signs You Have a Drinking Problem

In order to get help and give up drinking, you first need to be able to acknowledge that you have a drinking problem.

Listed below are some common signs that you’re drinking too much and may need to seek help:

  • You experience temporary blackouts after you drink
  • You become irritable and moody when you drink or when you’ve gone too long without drinking
  • You make excuses to consume more alcohol
  • You choose to drink instead of dealing with work, family, and other obligations
  • You isolate yourself from family and friends in order to drink more
  • You feel hungover when you go too long without drinking
  • You’ve hurt yourself or someone else while under the influence of alcohol
  • You lie about how much or how often you drink

You might also be dealing with a drinking problem if your friends or family members have expressed concern or tried to talk to you about your alcohol consumption.

What to Expect When You Quit Drinking

It’s not easy to give up drinking. Before you begin the recovery process, it’s important to know what to expect.

Everyone’s recovery is different, of course, but there are some experiences that are nearly universal. For example, withdrawal symptoms.

Just about anyone with a drinking problem who gives up drinking will deal with some withdrawal symptoms.

Explained below is a general alcohol withdrawal timeline of what the process looks like when you stop consuming alcohol:

Stage One

For most people, Stage One is characterized by mild withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms usually set in within six to eight hours after you’ve stopped consuming alcohol.

Some of the most common symptoms people experience when they’re going through Stage One include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors

Brain fog and mood swings are common symptoms at this stage, too.

Stage Two

During Stage Two, withdrawal symptoms become a bit more moderate and tend to affect your vital signs. Some of the most common signs that occur during Stage Two include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased or irregular heartbeat
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • More severe mood swings and irritability
  • Feelings of confusion

These symptoms usually set in between twelve and forty-eight hours after an individual’s last drink.

Stage Three

During Stage Three, symptoms become the most severe.

Individuals who are going through Stage Three might experience a condition known as “delirium tremens” or DTs. DTs is characterized by seizures, extreme anxiety, hallucinations, and feelings of confusion and disorientation. 

Symptoms that occur during this stage can be dangerous and even fatal. It’s because of these symptoms that doctors recommend people going through withdrawal do so under medical supervision. 

Stage Three symptoms usually set in within 48-72 hours after you consume your last drink.

When Does it Get Better?

As you can see, alcohol withdrawal isn’t exactly an easy process, especially when you get to Stage Three.

The good news, though, is that your symptoms will typically subside in a significant way after Stage Three. Most people find that their symptoms improve between five and seven days after their last drink. 

Everyone is Different

It’s important to note, too, that everyone experiences withdrawal in a different way. 

The severity of a person’s withdrawal symptoms varies depending on many different factors, including the following:

  • Your age
  • Your biological sex
  • Your weight
  • Your unique metabolic rate
  • The amount of alcohol you were in the habit of consuming
  • The presence of other health problems, physical or mental
  • The length of time you were drinking before you sought help

If you have a genetic history of alcohol abuse, you may also experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than someone who does not.

Tips for Surviving Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal is not easy. At the same time, though, there are a lot of strategies you can implement to lessen the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. 

The following are some tips that can make the withdrawal process easier:

Don’t Do it Alone

Going through alcohol withdrawal alone can be very dangerous. It’s also hard to stay motivated and resist temptation when you’re trying to do it by yourself.

That’s why so many people see better recovery outcomes when they participate in a rehab program.

Write Yourself a Letter

When you decide to give up drinking for good, write a letter to yourself explaining your reasoning and giving yourself a bit of a pep talk. Keep this letter in a safe place and pull it out when you’re struggling and feel tempted to give up.

Stay Hydrated

Be sure to drink plenty of water, too. Dehydration is common during withdrawal, especially if you’re struggling with symptoms like nausea and vomiting. 

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eat a healthy diet during this time. Consume lots of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, and high-quality protein. Stay away from sugar and highly processed foods.

Get Help Today

It’s not always easy to tell when you’re drinking too much, and, even when you do know, it can be hard to admit it to other people.

After reading through these signs and symptoms, do you think you’re showing signs of having a drinking problem? Do you need help overcoming your addiction and staying sober? 

If so, contact us at The Discovery House today.

We have the highest success rates of any recovery program in the area and are joint commission accredited, so you can rest easy knowing you’re working with highly qualified, trained professionals.

We even offer same-day placement, so you can start working on your sobriety right away!

References

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.