Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

People who suffer from alcoholism have a physical dependence on alcohol. They feel like not only do they want to drink it but they need to drink it. When they stop drinking alcohol completely or their alcohol use decreases sharply, alcohol dependent individuals will experience something called alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome, which produces a broad range of symptoms, typically proceeds along a general timeline. However, the timeline is influenced by a variety of factors and differs from person to person. Let’s take a closer look at the stages of withdrawal.

First Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

Early stage withdrawals typically begin about eight hours after drinking stops, give or take a few hours. The first stage of alcohol withdrawal is marked by tremors. The tremors can be made worse if the person experiences any kind of mental or emotional agitation. Typically, these symptoms will begin to go away after the first 24 hours and reach maximum severity in one to three days, although some people continue to experience them for longer periods of time. The symptoms experienced in this stage are relatively minor though uncomfortable and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness and jumpiness
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Mental confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Pupil dilation
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Clammy skin
  • Sweating


Second Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

Second-Stage withdrawals are the second wave of symptoms and are typically much more severe. The alcoholic has a greater chance of experiencing these more severe symptoms if the alcohol abuse was prolonged or very heavy, or if they have gone through alcohol withdrawals before. Blood pressure spikes and hallucinations mark this stage of withdrawals. Hallucinations tend to begin 12 to 24 hours after the person stops drinking. Hallucinations are experienced by one-fourth of alcohol-dependent people in withdrawals. In this stage, the person may hear or see things that are not there. These hallucinations are punctuated by periods of clear-headed understanding. Patients in stage two often continue to experience symptoms from stage one and those symptoms may worsen during this time. Another potential second-stage symptom is withdrawal-related seizures. This is why it is so important to check into an alcohol detox program so that the alcoholic can have medical care if seizures occur. The type of seizure that occurs, known as a grand mal or generalized tonic-clonic seizure, produces indicators such as:

  • Full-body muscle rigidity
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Difficult breathing
  • Clenching jaw and teeth
  • Uncontrolled biting of the tongue or cheek


Third Stage of Alcohol Withdrawal

Third-Stage withdrawals are experienced by about 30% of patients. It can begin from three to four days after a person stops drinking to as long as two weeks afterward. In severe cases, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in this stage may include a dangerous condition called delirium tremens: the DTs. In addition, people experiencing DTs may accidentally injure themselves, or purposefully injure themselves or other people. Potential symptoms of the DTs include:

  • Full body muscle tremors
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Delirium
  • Mental confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Unusual touch, sound or light sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Deep sleep that extends for 24 hours or more
  • A potentially fatal change in heart rhythm


Here at New Life Addiction Treatment Center, we offer residential services and a variety of effective programs for alcohol addiction treatment. While specific plans differ between each client and their unique needs, all of our programs have basic requirements that are similar to each other. You should expect to participate in alcohol detox, talk frequently with a counselor and in groups, and work on the root causes of your alcoholism. Please call (855) 658-0035 to speak to us directly to set up your time in alcohol rehab and get started on your journey to joy in sobriety!