With over 15 million U.S. adults reporting some form of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), it’s obvious that alcoholism is a nationwide health crisis. Unfortunately, the confusing (and painful) physical effects of initial sobriety can make overcoming alcoholism seem impossible. But, by learning what to expect when it comes to alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you can be better equipped to begin a healthy recovery process.
Unlike other kinds of food and drink, alcohol effects your body’s central nervous system. Over time, your body becomes accustomed to the depressive effects of alcohol and works harder to keep various functions going. When you suddenly deprive alcohol from the body, it remains in this stressful, overdrive-like mode—resulting in withdrawal.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
When it comes to physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the severity and duration of withdrawal can vary based upon the degree of one’s alcoholism. In general, experts have outlined 3 distinct levels:
- Stage 1 (Mild). General anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and moderate shakes. These symptoms can occur as soon as 8 hours after your last alcoholic drink.
- Stage 2 (Moderate). Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Increased degree of mental confusion. These symptoms usually occur within 1-3 days of your last alcoholic drink.
- Stage 3 (Severe). In cases where withdrawal symptoms are not adequately treated, they can progress to extreme tremors, fever, and even seizures.
Experts note that these symptoms exist on a continuum. This means that your individual withdrawal experience may vary based upon a range of factors including age, sex, and degree / duration of alcoholism.
Management of withdrawal’s challenges is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to recovery. Understanding that alcohol withdrawal is temporary and “fixable” is probably one of the most important components of relapse prevention.
For those undergoing withdrawal at home, recovery leaders recommend asking a friend or relative to supervise your behavior. In some cases, your withdrawal symptoms may be so severe that outside help is required.
Aside from treatable, physical effects, alcohol withdrawal is also a mentally-demanding process. The withdrawal period is often the first time many alcoholics refrain from self-medicating with alcohol, making the emotional toll an intense one.
In addition to seeking assistance, there are numerous “self-care” strategies that can help you get through a period of alcohol withdrawal. Here are just a few:
- Build a network. Reach out to friends or attend a recovery group meeting.
- Overcome cravings. Remember that cravings usually decrease as you progress.
- Get active. Physical activity isn’t just healthy. It works wonders for your state of mind.
Get Help Today
If you are struggling to stay clean and sober, a sober living environment may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation offers men’s sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.