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Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

It’s probably not surprising that alcohol withdrawal worsens as one becomes more dependent. Almost everyone knows what a hangover is, it hits you the next morning and you face it the next day, and after 24 hours everything is back to normal. Of course, once drinking becomes more common or an everyday event, most experience mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are much more noticeable. Symptoms are a good sign that alcohol dependence is setting in, and the stages only get worse as you continue to drink and time passes.

Mild alcohol withdrawal irritations usually peak and then disappear after 24 hours, depending on the severity of the drinking problem. At this level, you can think of them as ‘prolonged hangovers’ and that’s when you know you’re going the wrong way. Symptoms include malaise, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, mild sweating, headaches, and feeling a little down. You may also experience a handshake, cold sweats, anxiety, and general depression. Each person experiences alcohol withdrawal differently and could have one or more or even all of these symptoms (cite: 1)

Getting rid of these conditions, symptoms or feelings seems easy for those who are falling prey to dependency, just having another drink will do, or so their brain tells them. Once you take a sip, your body and mind are calm again and the symptoms disappear temporarily.

If you are at this point, you should know that the chemical and physical abstinence from alcohol is perhaps 10 days to two weeks. It is a feeling of discomfort, mild anxiety, tension, irritation and feeling very uncomfortable. After that, two weeks is primarily a psychological problem, as your brain and psyche associate alcohol with having a good time. Can you stop drinking for 30 days without intervention? Otherwise, it is very likely that you will eventually experience the next stage of alcohol withdrawal and dependence.

This continuous circular trap of drinking, then abstinence, then drinking again leads to the next level of dependence and a higher stage of alcohol withdrawal. Let’s call this next level moderate alcohol withdrawal. Generally speaking, it will peak in about 48 hours. You will experience much more of the same, only to a greater degree; increased anxiety, more sweating, more cravings for alcohol, mood swings, hypersensitivity, higher blood pressure, and even reflex responses. The more alcohol is consumed, the greater the intensity of withdrawal (quote: 2).


1. “Robert Swift Alcohol Hangover Mechanisms and Mediators,” MD, Ph.D .; and Dena Davidson, Ph.D. NIH published research.

2.) “Comparative effectiveness and costs of inpatient and outpatient detoxification of patients with mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal syndrome”, Motoi Hayashida, MD, Sc.D., Arthur I. Alterman, Ph.D., A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D. and. Alabama. New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 1989. DOI: 10.1056 / NEJM198902093200605.

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