What To Expect During Alcohol Detox: Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal: What You Need to Know Before Quitting Cold Turkey

If you think you have an alcohol problem and you're considering stopping, that's wonderful news. Taking this step is a huge move towards reclaiming your health and happiness. However, before you go cold turkey, it’s crucial to understand how the process works and the potential dangers involved. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, so please read through this entire post to ensure you're informed and prepared.

Why Alcohol Withdrawal Can Be Dangerous

There are ten main symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that can vary from mild to severe. Understanding these symptoms can help you gauge whether your withdrawal experience is mild or something more serious that requires medical attention.

For those of you who are new here, I'm Amber Hollingsworth, a master addiction counselor with over 20 years of experience helping people and families overcome addiction. This blog, along with my YouTube channel "Put The Shovel Down," is dedicated to empowering you with the knowledge and support you need to get your life and family back on track.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect

1. Nausea and Vomiting One of the most common symptoms, ranging from mild nausea to constant vomiting and dry heaving. This happens because alcohol erodes your stomach lining over time, making it difficult for your stomach to handle food and nutrition.

2. Tremors Tremors, or "the shakes," can range from barely noticeable to severe, where your entire hand or arm shakes visibly. This is due to the overexcited state of your nervous system without alcohol's depressant effect.

3. Sweating Known as proximal sweats or night sweats, this is your body's response to an overactive nervous system. It can vary from slightly damp palms to being drenched in sweat.

4. Anxiety Withdrawal-induced anxiety can skyrocket, often feeling like a physical panic. It’s your nervous system in overdrive, and it can be extremely distressing.

5. Agitation This can range from mild irritability to severe psychomotor agitation, where you might pace or even thrash around uncontrollably.

6. Tactile Disturbances Your skin becomes hypersensitive. On the mild end, it can feel itchy or tingly. On the severe end, you might experience tactile hallucinations, feeling like bugs are crawling on your skin.

7. Auditory Disturbances Sounds might become unbearably loud or frightening, progressing to auditory hallucinations where you hear things that aren’t there.

8. Visual Disturbances Lights might seem too bright, and normal light can cause pain. In severe cases, you might see things that aren’t there.

9. Headaches These can range from a feeling of fullness or pressure to severe, debilitating headaches.

10. Disorientation Severe withdrawal can lead to a state of confusion where you might not know who you are, where you are, or why you’re there. This can be extremely dangerous.

Why Medical Assistance is Crucial

Because alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, it's essential to seek medical advice before you stop drinking, especially if you’ve been drinking heavily or for a long period. Withdrawal can lead to severe complications like seizures or psychosis, which require immediate medical attention.

Tips for a Safe Detox

A medically supervised detox can provide medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent severe complications. This typically involves anti-seizure medications and central nervous system depressants tapered down over several days.

While it might seem possible to taper off alcohol on your own, this method rarely works in practice. Alcohol impairs your judgment and self-control, making it difficult to reduce your intake gradually.


If you're considering quitting alcohol, it's a brave and commendable decision. But please, don’t do it alone. Consult with a healthcare provider to ensure you can detox safely. Download our free clinical alcohol withdrawal scale to help monitor your symptoms, but remember, it’s not a substitute for professional medical advice.

For more information and support, subscribe to our channel and explore the resources available. Alcoholism is a challenge you can overcome, and it doesn't have to be a dreadful process.

Stay informed, stay safe, and take the first step towards a healthier, happier life.

 Amber Hollingsworth

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