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Duration of Alcohol Withdrawal

When an alcoholic person abruptly stops drinking, it is likely to cause alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Read on to know the symptoms and duration of alcohol withdrawal.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2018
There's no denying the fact that quitting alcohol is never easy, especially in case of heavy drinkers. Alcohol has a sedating effect on the brain. In the initial phases, it enhances the effect of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter, which has inhibitory effects.
However, in case of heavy drinkers, GABA activity gets suppressed, and more alcohol is required to produce the feelings of relaxation. On the other hand, the activity of an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate is also suppressed due to alcohol abuse.
When heavy drinkers abruptly stop or significantly reduce the intake of alcohol, the activity of these neurotransmitters is no longer suppressed. This leads to brain hyperexcitability, which in turn gives rise to a wide range of untoward symptoms.
Duration of Alcohol Withdrawal
Generally, when an alcoholic stops consuming alcohol, he/she could experience withdrawal symptoms as early as 6 to 12 hours after the last drink.
It has been observed that tremors might be experienced 6 to 12 hours after the last drink, and might peak at 24 to 48 hours. Other symptoms that might be experienced include high blood pressure, sweating, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, irritability, nightmares, sleeplessness, etc.
Within 12 to 24 hours after the last drink, the affected individual might experience hallucinations. These might last for a couple of days.
Within 6 to 48 hours after taking the last drink, the affected individual might experience seizures, which might peak at 24 hours. These could last for several hours.
Delirium tremens is a serious complication of alcohol withdrawal that occurs between 48 and 72 hours after the last drink, and peaks at four to five days after the last drink. At times, the symptoms might last for 7 to 10 days after the last drink.
This is a serious condition that is characterized by rapid changes in one's breathing, circulation, and temperature control. It can cause tremors, changes in mental function, delirium, confusion, disorientation, stupor or loss of consciousness, irrational beliefs, anger, nervousness, excessive sweating, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations.
It must be noted that the duration of withdrawal symptoms could vary from person to person. However, the symptoms usually resolve within two weeks. The severity of symptoms would depend on the extent of alcohol abuse. The symptoms are more likely to be severe in case of heavy drinkers.
Common Symptoms
The symptoms can be moderate to severe, and would depend on the duration for which one has been addicted to alcohol.
Moderate Withdrawal
Some psychological and physical symptoms that affect a person in case of moderate alcohol addiction are as follows:
Worried businessman
Nervousness and restlessness
Episodes of depression
Sweating and increased heartbeat
◆ Headaches
◆ Vomiting
◆ Hand tremors
◆ Insomnia
◆ Poor appetite
◆ Confusion and lack of concentration
◆ Pale skin
◆ Shakiness
Severe Withdrawal
Here are some the common symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal:

Delirium tremens
High fever
Alcoholism is a very serious problem that must be treated at the earliest. If you are experiencing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, it's advisable to seek medical assistance at the earliest.
Those who are addicted to alcohol must acknowledge their problem and join a good rehabilitation center for alcohol detoxification at the earliest. Joining a support group can also prove beneficial.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.