alcohol recovery and recovery from alcohol

What Helps for Alcohol Withdrawals?


About 95% of the people who quit drinking alcohol suffer from mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms and can normally be treated on an out-patient basis by your doctor or by another healthcare professional.

Due to the fact that so many individuals suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they quit drinking alcohol, however, a number of them ask the following question: "what helps for alcohol withdrawals"? Please continue reading to discover more relevant and important information about what helps for alcohol withdrawals.

Mild to Moderate Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a group of symptoms exhibited by individuals who stop drinking alcohol after a pattern of continuous and excessive consumption.

These symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe and include both behavioral and psychological components.

Occasionally, various individuals over-emphasize the physical consequences of withdrawal and deemphasize the psychological effects.


Keep in mind, however, that the emotional results of alcohol withdrawal can be as painful and debilitating, if not more so, than the physical consequences.

With this in mind, the following represents mild to moderate psychological symptoms that typically occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Nightmares

  • Feeling nervous or jumpy

  • Rapid emotional changes

  • Depression

  • Difficulty with thinking clearly

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue

  • Easily excited, irritability

Mild to Moderate Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents mild to moderate physical symptoms that typically occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Clammy skin

  • Abnormal movements

  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulties

  • Rapid pulse rate

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Sweating (especially on the face or the palms of the hands)

  • Tremor of the hands

  • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

  • Looking pale, without color

  • Eyes or pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)

  • Headache (especially those that pulsate)

  • Loss of appetite

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following represents severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically occur within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Muscle tremors

  • Seizures

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Fever

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Agitation

  • Black outs

  • Profound confusion

  • Convulsions

Most Withdrawal Cases Rarely Require Hospitalization

Recent evidence shows that it may be important to treat every person who is experiencing alcohol withdrawal.

Having said this, it can be noted that approximately 95% of the people who quit drinking alcohol suffer from mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms and can normally be treated on an out-patient basis by a healthcare professional.

The remaining 5% of people who experience withdrawal symptoms, however, suffer symptoms so severe that they must be treated in a hospital or in an alcohol rehab facility that specializes in detoxification.

So the first question that should be asked when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms is probably not "what helps for alcohol withdrawals?" but rather "who should I contact about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing"?

And the best answer to this latter question is this: seek medical assistance immediately so that your doctor, urgent care center personnel, healthcare provider, or emergency room doctor can assess the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and suggest the best option for treatment.

Non-Drug Detoxification

A number of different techniques exist for managing alcohol withdrawal. While some of these treatments use medications, many do not. In fact, according to the current research literature, it appears that the safest way to treat mild withdrawal symptoms is without medications.

Such forms of non-drug detoxification use screening and extensive social support during the withdrawal process. Other non-drug detox programs use vitamin therapy (especially thiamin) and proper nutrition in treating mild withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxification with Drugs

On the other hand, numerous researchers now advocate that chronic alcoholics who cannot maintain sobriety should receive drug therapy to control withdrawal symptoms. By using the medication route, these alcohol-dependent individuals are less likely to experience possible seizures and/or brain damage.

Recent research suggests that the drugs most likely to produce effective results when treating alcohol withdrawal are the benzodiazepines, for instance, the longer-acting benzodiazepines like Librium and Valium or the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Serax and Ativan.

Historically, when administering benzodiazepines, doctors have employed a progressive decrease in doses over the time-span of the withdrawal.

Moreover, due to the fact that these drugs do not linger in the person's system and they allow for measurable dose reductions some researchers have suggested that intermediate to short half-life benzodiazepines should be used for treating withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Versus Outpatient Detox Programs

One more point needs to be discussed: studies have shown that inpatient detoxification is more effective and long-lasting than outpatient detoxification. The upshot of this seems to be the following: the more severe the alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms, the more likely that inpatient detox programs should be considered.


Conclusion: What Helps for Alcohol Withdrawals?

Perhaps the most important lesson learned from the information articulated above is this: when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the first concern should be "who should I contact about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms I am experiencing" rather than "what helps for alcohol withdrawals?"

When suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, always see your healthcare provider or your doctor immediately so that he or she can evaluate the severity of your condition and suggest treatment that will be best for your particular situation.