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Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are some of the most dangerous and potentially life-threatening. That’s because chronic alcohol abuse causes changes to the levels of chemicals in a person’s brain. Without the presence of alcohol, a person who is addicted to alcohol can experience symptoms that range from mild to severe.
Doctors can’t predict exactly how bad a person’s alcohol detox symptoms will be. They do know the longer a person has abused alcohol or the more times a person has gone through withdrawal from alcohol, the more severe their symptoms are likely to be.
Early Alcohol Detox Symptoms
A person will usually have their first alcohol detox symptoms about eight hours after they had their last drink. These symptoms may include:
- Mood swings
- Trouble thinking clearly
Over time, these early alcohol detox symptoms can give way to other symptoms, which can include:
- Appetite loss
- Fast heart rate
- Tremors (shaking)
- Trouble sleeping
These symptoms typically peak after about 24 to 72 hours, then usually start to improve.
Delirium Tremens: A Serious Form of Alcohol Withdrawal
In rare instances, a person can experience a severe form of alcohol detox symptoms known as the delirium tremens or DTs. An estimated 5 percent of all people who go through alcohol detox will go through the DTs. Symptoms associated with the DTs include:
- Agitation or severe confusion
- Severe confusion
Because of the health risks associated with the DTs, it is important that a person who could experience moderate and severe symptoms receive treatment at an inpatient treatment facility. There, medical professionals can monitor a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and temperature. They can also administer medications to reduce the likelihood a person will have a seizure, as well as reduce agitation whenever possible.
While there are potential difficulties to going through alcohol detox, the reward is even greater: sobriety. Once a person makes it through their initial alcohol detox symptoms, they can continue on the mental path to long-term recovery. Through continued therapy and participation in support groups, successful long-term sobriety after detox is possible.