Withdrawal Symptoms

Photo of patient going through withdrawals from alcohol

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcohol?

Many patients who come to Castle Craig may experience severe withdrawal symptoms as a result of their alcohol addiction. To avoid our patients experiencing any dangerous side effects, we have a complete medical team on standby to help manage symptoms and keep patients safe. 

Withdrawal from alcohol can manifest in two ways, with patients experiencing both psychological withdrawal symptoms and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol seizures, sweating, nausea, hypervigilance, hallucinations and confusion are some of the most common symptoms brought on by alcohol withdrawal. Thankfully in most cases, severe Delirium Tremens is rare, but can occur in around one in twenty patients.

Alcohol seizures, however,can be life-threatening and are more common. Seizures can be a single ‘tonic-clonic seizure’ or consist of a brief episode of multiple seizures. 

Coming off any substance can be a very emotional and stressful. It is essential to be in the right therapeutic environment which can offer continuous support and encouragement. Increased anxiety, difficulty concentrating, shakiness and problems with talking are all very common during this period. 

See timeline for coming off alcohol.

Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol use include:

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability, and other mood disturbance
  • Fatigue, lethargy, nightmares
  • Confused thinking, disorientation
  • Physical shaking, being “jumpy” or easily startled
  • Dilated pupils, gastrointestinal disturbances/heart palpitations.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating, clammy skin, pale skin
  • Increased heart rate/tremors or shakes
  • Severe alcohol withdrawal is referred to by the medical term Delirium Tremens.

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens may include any of the above as well as:

  • Auditory or visual hallucinations and/or delusions
  • Seizures
  • Extreme confusion/disorientation
  • Severe agitation/irritability
  • Fever/impaired attention
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Death

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be so severe that they quickly become life-threatening, and a medically assisted alcohol detox may be required to ensure the patient’s safety. 

All withdrawal symptoms are related in part to the individual’s use history such as the amount of alcohol consumed and the duration of alcohol use. Other factors such as genetics, physical health, organ damage, neurological issues and tolerance also play a big part in determining how alcohol withdrawal affects people. 

All withdrawal symptoms have the potential to be serious, but alcohol withdrawal symptoms are potentially life-threatening. Even if an individual is not experiencing Delirium Tremens, underlying and/or unknown health issues combined with alcohol withdrawal can be deadly.

Are you aware of the dangers of alcohol withdrawal?

Coping with Withdrawal

Medical safety is the priority during withdrawal. An evaluation from a trained medical professional can help an individual and the people supporting them make informed decisions regarding the safest means of detox, based on their medical status. Inpatient care will be required for any person at risk for Delirium Tremens.

In addition to safety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms present a significant challenge to sobriety, as a person will be motivated to use alcohol again to “self-medicate” in order to relieve unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Extensive support is available to assist patients in coping with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Compassionate, expert treatment is available in group, individual, and family counselling; peer support groups; and medications may also be helpful. In addition, professional addiction treatment specialists can help patients design a comprehensive recovery plan that addresses their individual needs and concerns.

    Asking for Help is Easier than You Think

    Please contact our team with more information about detox.