What Do Drinking Withdrawal Symptoms Feel Like?

Managing withdrawal symptoms while detoxing is the first step towards healing for people that have been highly dependent on alcohol. If left unmanaged, heavy alcohol users might go through uncomfortable and chronic alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they opt to quit. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms (AWS) is the term used to explain what heavy drinkers experience when they stop taking alcohol abruptly or when they minimize their intake. The individual might face a combination of emotional and physical signs from fatigue to chronic anxiety. At its worst, AWS might be life-threatening.

The Science behind Alcohol and the Brain

Alcohol has depressing consequences on your system because it slows down the brain functioning and affects communication between your nerves. When you take alcohol, it interacts with some receptor compounds in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA neurotransmitters activate Gamma-aminobutyric acid through a process that determines the necessary level of neural activity in the central nervous system. Alcohol makes the receptors less responsive, which increases the signaling power of GABA. After using alcohol for a long time, the central nervous system experiences prolonged inconsistency in its excitability. Therefore, the mind adjusts by reducing the number of GABA receptors. The structural and neurochemical changes result in what we know as tolerance. Once your brain develops tolerance, you will long to drink more alcohol so that you get the same feeling.

Dependence vs. Tolerance

The changes that the brain experiences when you develop tolerance can lean towards overactivity. All this is a physiological approach to balance the changes resulting from extensive use of alcohol. One may become dependent on alcohol to manage the new tendency towards the overstimulation of the neurons. If you quit or reduce your alcohol intake during this period, you might start experiencing nasty side effects of withdrawal.

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

When Do The Symptoms Start Showing?

Signs can start showing as soon as two hours after the last drink. They get serious between six and 72 hours later. For some people, the withdrawal persists for a few hours. Long-term users and heavy drinkers usually have it rough for several days after drinking.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms you experience depend on the extent of your dependency.


It often starts between five and ten hours after the last alcohol drink and reaches its peak at 24 to 48 hours. Apart from trembling, you may also experience irritability, high blood pressure, vomiting, fast breathing, vivid dreams, anxiety, an alert state, sweating, nausea, insomnia, and nightmares.


They might occur six to 48 hours after the last drink. It is common to have several seizures over many hours. The risk heightens at 24 hours.


The symptom shows within 24 hours after the last drink and can go on for two days. You see or feel unrealistic things. Many people see visions of falling coins and crawling insects. Others see several small objects in motion. In some cases, the hallucination will be an in-depth, imaginative vision.

Delirium tremens

It usually starts two or more days after the last days, and the peak is on the fifth day. You may experience temperature fluctuations and an increased breathing rate. It may make your heart race dangerously and your blood pressure to spike. Sometimes delirium tremens reduced blood flow to the brain. Symptoms include angry behavior, loss of consciousness, irrational beliefs, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations.

The Severity of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

• Mild – headache, tremor, palpitations, anxiety, and gastrointestinal issues • Moderate – elevated body temperature, increased blood pressure, confusion, and shallow breathing. • Severe – impaired attention, seizures, and hallucinations

Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal

The detox program required to treat AWS depends on the extent of addiction, level of dependence, and the possibility of experiencing chronic symptoms. A treatment professional or doctor will recommend the best level of detox care you need. Here are some potential options:

Outpatient detox

It is useful for patients that have a low risk of chronic withdrawal symptoms. The experts monitor progress when you come for frequent check-up appointments.

Medically monitored inpatient detox

The service is offered in detox centers, as opposed to hospital settings. It is best for individuals with mild risk of suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Staff members in the detox facilities monitor the recovery process.

Medically-managed inpatient detox

The option offers intensive care when detoxing. It is done in intensive care units in hospitals or in psychiatric settings. It is necessary for individuals experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms or those that are at the risk of going through it. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be tough on anyone, but the good thing is that you can do it. Are you ready to get started? Call us today at 833-820-2922, and we will help.