Home / Types of Alcoholism Treatment / Need for Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment

Detoxing from alcohol is often the first step in the rehabilitation process. Alcohol withdrawal treatment helps you avoid unnecessary discomfort during the detoxification process while allowing you detox in a safe manner. If you or someone you love are experiencing alcohol withdrawal or would like to seek treatment for alcoholism, call this confidential, toll-free hotline.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When Will They Start?

Alcoholics may experience symptoms of withdrawal as soon as five to 10 hours after the last time they consumed alcohol.

How Long Will They Last?

These symptoms may persist for several weeks after withdrawal has begun. In most cases, the worst symptoms of withdrawal are experienced two to three days after withdrawal.

An alcoholic going through withdrawal may experience some or all of the following symptoms.

Changes to Mental State:

  • Unclear thinking
  • Jumpiness
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings or general irritability
  • Depression
  • Nervousness

Physical Side Effects:

  • Clammy skin
  • Pallor
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking of the hands or general tremors
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilated pupils

In some cases, if the withdrawal is severe, a patient can experience delirium tremens. This form of withdrawal causes additional symptoms.

Delirium Tremens Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Severe Confusion

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Receiving an Examination and Testing

If a patient seeks medical help during withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal is suspected to be causing symptoms in a patient, the doctor may perform a physical examination. In addition to urine and blood tests, and a possible toxicology screen, a doctor will check for the following symptoms.

  • Abnormal or rapid heartbeat
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Physical signs of dehydration
  • Fever
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Rapid breathing

Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment Help

Alcoholics may experience symptoms of withdrawal as soon as five to 10 hours after the last time they consumed alcohol. Once a doctor has verified that the patient is in withdrawal, he may prescribe medications or other treatment to lessen the symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal treatment is also common in rehabilitation centers, where detoxification is the first step in the process of alcoholism recovery.

Inpatient treatment facilities will monitor the physical symptoms of detoxification to make sure the patient is not in danger. Sometimes fluids will be administered through an intravenous drip to prevent further dehydration. If the patient is eligible, he may receive benzodiazepines to sedate him during the process.

In most cases, inpatient treatment is recommended to moderate to severe cases of withdrawal due to health concerns. Mild cases of alcoholism may also enroll for inpatient treatment if desired. If the patient is uncomfortable attending an inpatient facility, he can go to a hospital for monitoring withdrawal symptoms. However, it is essential that people who detox in a hospital setting get additional help from a doctor, therapy, or support group, to prevent a relapse.

Outpatient treatment during alcohol withdrawals may be allowed in mild cases. The person suffering from withdrawals will need a trusted person to stay with him during the process. That person should look for symptoms that may require hospitalization. The helper will also need to drive the person going through detoxification to daily doctor's visits. During these visits sedatives may be prescribed and blood tests to monitor the patient's health might be taken.

The amount of treatment required will depend on the severity of the addiction. During outpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal, group therapy, individual counseling, or family counseling may be recommended. This can help the patient focus on avoiding old patterns, and identify the root causes of addiction. Support groups can also be helpful during this process if you are detoxing without the help of an inpatient treatment facility.

The amount of treatment required will depend on the severity of the addiction. Minimal symptoms are not uncommon if the addiction is new or mild. While the worst symptoms should abate after a few days, mild symptoms such as disrupted sleep, moodiness, or general fatigue can linger for several months. If the addiction was severe, patients should be screened for health issues, such as heart and liver disease, that can be caused by alcoholism.

Alcohol withdrawal treatment will help patients break the physical connection their body has with alcohol. If you or someone you know may be ready to consider detoxifying from alcohol, call this free national referral service.