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The Realities of Alcohol Withdrawal and How to Get Help

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Just the thought of going for one day without alcohol is sometimes too much to even contemplate. If you are a heavy drinker, withdrawal symptoms will start to present themselves within 3-7 hours of your last drink. These can be mild or quite severe, depending on how dependent you are on alcohol. When you decide to stop drinking, you will go through a process of detoxification, which is the complete abstinence from alcohol. When you are going through detox, you may experience some or all the following withdrawal symptoms (depending on your overall alcohol dependence):

  • Nausea (and in some cases vomiting)
  • Trembling (also referred to as ‘the shakes’)
  • Profuse perspiration
  • Cravings for alcohol.

In extreme cases of withdrawal, you may also experience the DTs (delirium tremens), which is a severe reaction to the lack of alcohol in your system. The symptoms of DTs are:

  • Severe trembling
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hearing and seeing things that are not there (delirium)
  • In very severe cases, some people may also experience convulsions.

There are also complications when going through the DTs. These include severe dehydration and other serious physical conditions. Occasionally, or when not managed properly, the DTs can be fatal.

Going Through Detox

Nobody can completely prevent you from going through withdrawal since that is the aim of the detox process – to help you withdraw from alcohol completely. They can, however, help manage the symptoms and effects of the withdrawal through medication and other treatments.

The first step in the detoxification process is to find a GP or a health professional who is trained in alcohol withdrawal to help you manage and monitor the process. This individual may prescribe some medications to help you deal with the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. These medications can manage your cravings, agitation, as well as help you avoid alcohol by having severe side-effects when you consume alcohol while taking the medication.

Alcohol Rescue has a team of trained and experienced staff who will be able to help you find the right health professional or clinic to facilitate your withdrawal from alcohol. We will also be able to help you find the support required to monitor your progress through withdrawal (whether you do it on your own at home or in a clinic) and make sure that you are not in any physical distress or danger. The helpline is staffed 24/7 and you are welcome to phone us at any time if you have any questions about the process.

Alcohol Rescue is dedicated to your recovery, so we have ties to private as well as NHS treatment facilities, charities and other organisations that can help you overcome your addiction to alcohol. During your first phone call, we will establish what kind of help and support you need and give you sound advice and guidance as to what your next steps should be.

The sooner you get treatment, the better – for the sake of your health. Our friendly counsellors are ready to answer your call now. Pick up the phone and make that call today.


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