Realizing that your drinking habits have spiraled out of control and that you need help can be a terrifying thought. A million questions swirl through your head: What will alcohol treatment be like? What will my family think? How painful will detox be? Keep reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawal, what happens in the days after you quit drinking, what ongoing symptoms may persist, and why medicated-assisted treatment is the best, and safest, course of action for quitting alcohol.

Alcohol Withdrawl Explained: After the First Drink

Alcohol withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours after the last drink. These symptoms are mostly mild, however, people with a long history of heavy drinking can suffer from more dangerous symptoms, such as seizures.

Common symptoms within the first few hours of the last drink include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

What Determines The Severity of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is different for everybody. There is a wide range of factors that determine how severe, or not severe, your symptoms may be. These include:

The severity of the addiction. An individual who drank all day every day in large volumes may have worse alcohol withdrawal symptoms than someone who didn’t drink as much or as frequently.
The length of the addiction. The body becomes dependent on substances the longer the individual uses it. As such, someone who has been addicted to alcohol for ten years will have more severe symptoms than someone who has been addicted for one year.
Underlying mental health conditions. Alcohol use can exacerbate underlying mental health conditions, which can make it more difficult for individuals suffering from them to overcome. These can include things such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD – all of which are treatable conditions through a treatment plan called dual diagnosis at facilities like ours.

The First 72 Hours

The first 72 hours of alcohol withdrawal are when symptoms peak. It is also the most dangerous period of time because this is when relapse is most common, due to the symptoms peaking.

Common symptoms experienced in the first 72 hours include:

  • Shaking
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium tremens

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes. Delirium Tremens can be severe enough to cause hospitalization and even death. This makes it extremely important for individuals who wish to detox from alcohol to do so under the supervision of medical professionals, and never to attempt it alone.

Symptoms of Delirium Tremens include:

  • Delirium, which is sudden severe confusion
  • Body tremors
  • Changes in mental function
  • Agitation, irritability
  • Deep sleep that lasts for a day or longer
  • Excitement or fear
  • Hallucinations (seeing or feeling things that are not really there)
  • Bursts of energy
  • Quick mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, touch
  • Stupor, sleepiness, fatigue
  • Seizures

Ongoing Symptoms

Getting through the first few days of alcohol withdrawal is crucial because that is when symptoms and cravings are at their peaks. However, symptoms may remain ongoing for a week or more. While they are less severe than initial symptoms, they can still be life-threatening.

Acute ongoing alcohol symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Low energy
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Nausea
  • Irritability

Medicated-Assisted Detox

The only safe way to detox from alcohol is under the supervision of medical professionals by way of medicated-assisted detox. By minimizing withdrawal symptoms and having around-the-clock medical care, individuals can rest assured that they will experience a more comfortable detox with minimal complications if any.

Some of the medications involved with medicated-assisted detox include:

  • Sleeping aids to ease insomnia symptoms
  • Nutritional support and exercise to give the body the proper fuel to get through detox safely
  • Medications for physical symptoms, such as nausea or fever
  • Anxiety medication to ease anxiety, depression, and mood swings

Another one of the many benefits of medicated-assisted detox is that the individual will be able to think more clearly more quickly. This allows clients to get more out of their treatment experience by beginning counseling and therapy sessions quicker and avoid relapse.

If you or a loved one are ready to finally quit alcohol for good, medicated-assisted detox is the best way to get through alcohol withdrawal. By getting through this initial stage of sobriety as comfortably as possible, you are setting yourself up for the best possible chances of long-term recovery.

About New Hope

New Hope Ranch is a residential treatment center focusing on prevention, assessment, treatment, and reintegration for people suffering from substance abuse. Services are provided on our beautiful 49-acre ranch just 15 minutes from downtown Austin, Texas.

New Hope Ranch’s mission has two basic purposes: to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and growth. The organization has a culture of innovation that thrives on the creation of new services that meet the community’s needs while maintaining effectiveness, excellence, and professionalism. New Hope Ranch values an integrated system of high-quality care focused on best practices, easy access to services, and providing a full range of services in an efficient manner.

Our Treatment Philosophy consists of providing the highest quality services while ensuring that each patient has a personalized treatment plan. New Hope Ranch met the rigorous standards and regulations the Joint Commission requires for a behavioral health provider to achieve accreditation and we strive every day to represent our gold standard joint commission accreditation proudly.

For more information on New Hope Ranch, visit

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