Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome


Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a group of symptoms that can occur when someone who has been heavily drinking alcohol suddenly cuts back or stops drinking. The syndrome can include a wide range of symptoms such as: shaking, sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irritability, anxiety, depression, confusion and even seizures.

Key symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:

  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Delirium tremens
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures

The most severe kind of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens or DTs. This can cause severe confusion, intense tremors, and changes in heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. DTs can also cause hallucinations, seizures, and even death if not treated right away.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can occur within hours after the last drink. Symptoms can peak at 24 to 72 hours. Without medical help, severe withdrawal symptoms can last 7-10 days. Symptoms can last longer due to a "kindling" effect, which is an increase in the severity of withdrawal symptoms over time.

The best way to prevent alcohol withdrawal syndrome is to slowly cut back your drinking over time. If you think you’re at risk of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, have a medical professional review your drinking and closely monitor your withdrawal symptoms.