Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Stages of Alcohol WithdrawalWhile alcohol is legal and enjoyed safely in moderation by many individuals, for those who are addicted, it can be an extremely challenging addiction to break. Much of the challenge of quitting alcohol involves the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that a patient can experience, which may be painful and even frightening.

What is Alcoholism?

Since alcohol is legal for Americans over 21, it’s important to understand the difference between healthy levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse disorders like binge drinking and alcoholism.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), low risk drinking is defined as:

  • Women: no more than 3 drinks per day and no more than 7 drinks per week
  • Men: no more than 4 drinks a day and 14 drinks per week

In comparison, the NIH defines “binge drinking” as:

  • Women:  more than 4 drinks on the same occasion
  • Men: more than 5 drinks on the same occasion

Some binge drinkers are also alcoholics, but often, binge drinkers will not experience the same alcohol withdrawal symptoms as alcoholics, which often abuse alcohol on a daily basis and are physically dependent on it.

What Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Can a Patient Expect

If you are about to quit alcohol after a serious habit, you may want to get ready for a bumpy ride, as a withdrawal from alcohol may last up to 7 days.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur in three distinct stages:

  • Stage 1: 8 hours after last drink
    • Anxiety, nausea, insomnia, abdominal pain
  • Stage 2: 24-72 hours after last drink
    • High blood pressure, confusion, increased heart rate and body temperature
  • Stage 3: 72+ hours after last drink
    • Hallucinations, fever, seizures, agitation

Medical Detox is Essential for Safe Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Unlike the withdrawal from many other types of drugs, which may simply be uncomfortable, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous to the human body.

That’s why it’s best to undergo a medical detox, in which professional medical help can continuously monitor your vital signs including your heart rate, breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, and other factors, and can provide you essential medications in the case of seizures, intense agitation, or extreme hallucinations.

Long-term Alcoholism Treatment and Sober Living Options

After a patient has completed a medical detox program, it’s usually best for them to participate in an inpatient or intensive outpatient alcohol addiction treatment program lasting between several weeks and several months.

While a program like this should help a patient get sober, it may not be enough to keep them sober– and a sober living program may help. Sober living arrangements can let a recovering alcoholic live with other recovering addicts that can support them in their sobriety and help them avoid the situations that cause them to drink in the first place.

Stay on to Find the Right Treatment Option for You

With alcohol use so ingrained into every part of our society, it’s understandable that many people may slowly find themselves dependent on the substance. While it might start as just a few too many drinks after work or on the weekends, alcohol abuse can soon spiral out of control and take over every aspect of patient’s life.

Despite the challenges posed by alcoholism, most addiction sufferers eventually recover and take back control of their lives through sobriety– and if you or someone you know suffers, it’s time to find the help that every addiction sufferer deserves.

Call 855-638-9268 today to learn more, addiction specialist are available 24/7 to find the treatment addiction center that is right for you. 


Erica Loret de Mola

Erica Loret de Mola is a communications major who has been writing about addiction treatment for approximately three years. As content manager and editor in chief of Get Treatment, she strives to provide the most accurate and current information available to our clients.


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