4 Normal Stages and Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 19, 2021.

When you're attempting to become sober after prolonged alcohol use, it can be a long journey to recovery. One of the initial steps you can take is to abstain from alcohol use. The will may be there to break the addiction, but your body may have a tougher time coping.

In this post, we'll explore what alcohol withdrawal is, the symptoms and stages of alcohol withdrawal, and how inpatient rehab can treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when you abruptly stop drinking alcohol after chronic, prolonged use. When this happens, it's because you have gotten used to having the substance in your body. When alcohol is no longer present, it can be quite a shock to your body.

Alcohol is a depressant, so if you chronically use alcohol and then stop drinking, the brain compensates by increasing the amounts of stimulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. That swing from a depressant to a stimulant can sometimes be too much for the body, which is where alcohol withdrawal symptoms come in.

Symptoms and Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can appear within five to eight hours of abstaining from alcohol. Four of the main symptoms and stages of alcohol withdrawal are:

  1. Minor withdrawal. Within a few hours to up to 36 hours of no alcohol, your body may start to shake due to the surge in serotonin and norepinephrine. Other symptoms during this period can include nausea, vomiting, faster pulse and heart rate, hypervigilance, insomnia and irritability.
  2. Seizures. From six to 36 hours from your last alcoholic drink, several seizures may occur, peaking within 24 hours.
  3. Alcoholic hallucinosis. A more rare condition called alcoholic hallucinosis can occur from 12 to 48 hours after your last drink. This could lead to hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not real, lasting up to two days.
  4. Delirium tremens (DTs). From two days to eight days after your last drink, DTs may arrive. At this point, you may need to seek medical help to treat these alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Erratic heartbeat, increased blood pressure and confusion are just some of the symptoms, which may peak within four to five days.

How Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox Treated?

Suddenly stopping drinking alcohol after prolonged use can be a scary, even life-threatening experience. If you have been heavily using alcohol, you may want to enroll in a medically assisted detox problem at a reputable rehab facility, such as Diamond House Detox, to start your healing journey.

At Diamond House Detox, we give you medications during your detox process to help treat physical symptoms. We also provide a healthy diet and positive atmosphere to thrive in as well as the right support to help you achieve and maintain your sobriety.

Diamond House Detox Can Help With Alcohol Withdrawal

You don't have to go through detox from alcohol alone. Let compassionate, caring experts take care of you as you get healthy. Our facility in Sacramento, California, has caring and knowledgeable staff waiting to help you. Contact us today and receive confidential help for your alcohol use disorder.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet