I've been drinking daily (and nightly) for twenty years. As of 12:30 tomorrow afternoon I will have one week of sobriety. I was afraid of withdrawal symptoms, being well acquainted...
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
Originally Published: May 6, 2005 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 15, 2010
I've been a very heavy drinker for a number of years and it has started to impact my job and family relationships. Recently I've been trying to quit or moderate my drinking and that has been met with little success. I will go a few days without drinking and then the uncontrollable urge overcomes me and I end up at the bar promising to have only one to two (which then end up being my normal ten or eleven).
Every time now that I cut back on my alcohol intake, I get very serious withdrawal symptoms, such as twitches, shakes, night sweats, nervousness, and anxiousness. It is getting to be so bad that I feel worse than if I was suffering a hangover. I'm wondering how long will these symptoms continue?
A few weeks ago, I went about ten days without drinking and thought I was over the symptoms, but I regressed and started drinking heavily again. Now, it has been four days since my last drink and I can barely concentrate at work because of the twitching and nervousness. I don't go to doctors and think that I can work myself through this on my own. I'm just wondering how long this will last and if there is anything that I can do that would make this process easier. Thank you!
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may last anywhere from twenty-four hours to weeks, based upon how dependent a person has become. The symptoms that you describe are similar to those people experience during alcohol withdrawal:
- Night sweats
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased blood pressure or heart rate
- A strong desire to drink to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal
As dependency worsens, some people develop a life-threatening condition called Delirium Tremens (DT). If you're having or develop any of these symptoms below, please treat this situation as a medical emergency and see a health care provider immediately:
- Memory loss
- Extremely high heart rate and blood pressure
Based on what you've said, it sounds as though you've had limited success trying to stop drinking. You mention that you don't go to doctors and would like to work through this on your own. Has this strategy worked for you? What is it about seeing a health care provider is unappealing to you? What would it be like for you to talk to a professional who may provide some support and help? It's understandable that talking to someone about your alcohol use may feel uncomfortable or overwhelming. Several options exist and knowing what to expect may make it easier for you to reach out for help. Recovering from strong conditions usually require both internal (your willpower) and external (outside help, other people, services) forces. Perhaps you may consider enlisting external support to really increase the odds towards your success.
If you choose to see a healthcare provider, s/he may ask about your medical history, your alcohol consumption, and your symptoms, especially as they relate to going cold turkey. Your honesty will help the provider take the best possible care of you. S/he may refer you to a substance abuse counselor or program to determine why and when your drinking became excessive and uncontrollable to develop a plan to combat your dependency.
A myriad of services and resources are available to you. Your job may offer a confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that aids its employees in finding the correct substance abuse services to fight their dependencies or addictions. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is another option to consider. If you wish, you may even go to a meeting in a different part of town so that you don't encounter any family, friends, or work associates along the way. Al-Anon/Alateen is a similar program for your family and teenagers.
Even though you want to stop drinking without any help, recovery from alcohol use is difficult and time-consuming — if not all-consuming — so taking advantage of resources and support available to you may significantly help with the day-by-day. Please check out these links for additional information on alcohol dependence and recovery:
Consider taking this next step in addressing this problem with alcohol so that it will no longer harm you, your loved ones, and your employment. You may take this step of inquiring about help. These are brave moves and a good start to finding the support you need and deserve.
October 2, 200921596
I've been drinking daily (and nightly) for twenty years. As of 12:30 tomorrow afternoon I will have one week of sobriety. I was afraid of withdrawal symptoms, being well acquainted with nausea and the shakes. What I didn't expect is the inability to sleep and all over mental and physical itchiness. I am very lucky to have the loving support of my family and tomorrow I'll attend an AA meeting. Allow people to help you. Actively seek help. It's very difficult to go it alone. Take back your life. Don't say you'll try, say you will do it — one day at a time, one hour, one minute at a time if you must but do it. Luck doesn't have much to do with it but I wish you much in your recovery.
May 21, 200921408
I am almost 20, and am spending about 6 to 10 hours a week in group, therapy, and AA. The longest I have been able to go sober so far is 9 weeks. For some reason, after that magic...
I am almost 20, and am spending about 6 to 10 hours a week in group, therapy, and AA. The longest I have been able to go sober so far is 9 weeks. For some reason, after that magic number in weeks has passed, I relapse. All I have to say from personal experience is a couple of things. One, you can't quit unless you truly want to quit for you and you only. If you only want to quit for others, your chances of quiting are slim to none. Second, I don't care what ANYONE else says, quiting never gets easier. At least not so easy you never want to take another drink. The urge and thought will always be there.
I do think Alice is right. You should seek professional help and by all means get all the help you can. You will need more friends now than you ever did to help you and support you. Friends that don't judge or nag. Friends that will be there for you no matter what, day or night, and friends that can talk you out of that first drink. That's all I have to say on that. Hope that I have been some help! Good luck on you "quitting" journey.
March 9, 200921452
I have had the same symptoms. You, like me, are an alcoholic. The only way to get rid of these withdrawal symptoms is to quit. AA meetings help me. I've tried and tried to limit my...
I have had the same symptoms. You, like me, are an alcoholic. The only way to get rid of these withdrawal symptoms is to quit. AA meetings help me. I've tried and tried to limit my drinking, only to return to a state worse than the last. Try AA meeting and get a sponser. Good luck! Ray.
September 3, 200821473
There are many medications out there that can help you in the detox phase and also help with the alcohol cravings. I'm not crazy about doctors either, but in this instance they can...
There are many medications out there that can help you in the detox phase and also help with the alcohol cravings. I'm not crazy about doctors either, but in this instance they can really be helpful in prescribing the right drugs to minimize symptoms and keep you on the "alcohol free" road. This is an addiction that is way too powerful to battle by yourself. You need medication, family and/or friend support, and group support. Don't beat yourself up and start fresh with the RIGHT HELP. You need it and you deserve it.
July 28, 200821259
I wanted to respond to the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms post. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I have been sober for 2 years now. I want to say that the physical symptoms do go...
I wanted to respond to the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms post. I am a recovering alcoholic, and I have been sober for 2 years now. I want to say that the physical symptoms do go away in time, but the mental symptoms will always be there. I haven't had a drink in 2 years and there are times that I want to go to the bar and have a few. I have just put in my head that I cant do it, I almost treat it like its a poison that if i take a drink it could do something terrible to me. The last 2 years haven't been the easiest, actually it is the hardest thing I have had to overcome. In time it does get alittle easier to deal with. I stopped on my own, but I would suggest to other people to go to AA meetings or treatment to overcome this challenge. I just want to say, never give up and you need your family and friends to be there to support you on this whether you want them there or not. Some day you will realize just how much you actually need them.
April 1, 200821387
To the reader:
I tried AA for years, and kept relapsing... I too have learned that I cannot do it alone, and once I realized that, and accepted that I need help to quit successfully, it...
To the reader:
I tried AA for years, and kept relapsing... I too have learned that I cannot do it alone, and once I realized that, and accepted that I need help to quit successfully, it became easier. I personally have found that Narcotics Anonymous (NA)was my answer. ALCOHOL is a drug, and the NA fellowship focuses on the disease of addiction, as the problem... where as AA seems to focus on alcohol as being the problem. For me, alcohol is only a symptom of my problem. My problem is that I have the disease of addiction. It manifests in my life in many ways... Try an NA meeting, and see if it works for you. It saved my life.