Author: John Carter

What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?

alcohol detox side effects

If you drink alcohol heavily for weeks, months, or years, you may have both mental and physical problems when you stop or seriously cut back on how much you drink. According to a 2015 article, an estimated 50 percent of people with an alcohol use disorder go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Doctors estimate that 3 to 5 percent of people will have severe symptoms. Many people stop experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms four to five days after their last drink. They can recommend treatment options that can help, including therapy and medications. It’s important to remember that they are only temporary and will usually subside within a few days.

alcohol detox side effects

The higher the number, the worse a person’s symptoms are and the more treatments they likely need. One of the most significant benefits of giving up alcohol is that you may increase your lifespan. Alcohol misuse can lead to serious health problems like liver disease and cancer. So, giving up alcohol can help you to avoid these potentially deadly diseases. One of the best things about giving up alcohol is that you may find yourself feeling happier overall.

Mental Health Effects When You Stop Drinking

Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD), commonly known as delirium tremens (DT), is the most serious symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Mild withdrawal symptoms often begin within 6 to 12 hours after your last drink. The main ways to prevent alcohol withdrawal are to avoid alcohol altogether or to get professional help as soon as possible if you think you’re developing alcohol use disorder. Alcohol withdrawal can range from very mild symptoms to a severe form, known as delirium tremens. Remember you are facing a difficult challenge during alcohol withdrawal, but you are not alone.

alcohol detox side effects

Outpatient alcohol detox may be a good fit for people at low risk for severe withdrawal. Inpatient treatment is the most intensive type of addiction treatment. You’ll also receive medical advice and attention and participate in therapy programs designed to help prepare you for a sober life.

In the Next Few Weeks

Over time, your central nervous system adjusts to having alcohol around all the time. Your body works hard to keep your brain in a more awake state and to keep your nerves talking to one another. In fact, an estimated one-third of people who receive treatment for alcohol issues are sober one year later, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. One of the surprising side effects of giving up alcohol is that your skin may start to look better.

  1. This includes neurotransmitters and the central nervous system (CNS).
  2. A person with this condition can have a very high heart rate, seizures, or a high body temperature.
  3. Because the body usually works to maintain balance, it will signal the brain to make more neurotransmitter receptors that excite or stimulate the central nervous system.

If you make the decision to stop drinking daily and heavily, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. The time it takes to detox depends on a few factors, including how much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and whether you’ve experienced alcohol withdrawal before. For example, a person with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder may only experience stage one symptoms. In contrast, a long-term, heavy drinker is more likely to experience symptoms of all three stages. A doctor may also prescribe a sedative drug, such as a benzodiazepine, to help reduce withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness or agitation.

What Is Alcohol Detox?

However, try not to have too many firm expectations, as symptoms can continue for multiple weeks in some people. For people who experience hallucinations as part of alcohol withdrawal, these may begin in the 12- to 24-hour time frame. When someone drinks alcohol for a prolonged period of time and then stops, the body reacts to its absence. This is alcohol withdrawal, and it causes uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. There are many benefits to giving up alcohol, both short-term and long-term.

When you suddenly stop or reduce your drinking, unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms or alcohol detox side effects emerge. These benefits are most notable if you maintain sobriety after you complete alcohol detox, and the best way to do that is to transition into an alcohol addiction treatment program. Inpatient is the most intensive and may provide you the best opportunity to obtain and maintain sobriety, due to its structure and serene environment. Your doctor may also prescribe medications that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Vivitrol (naltrexone), Campral (acamprosate), and Antabuse (disulfiram) have been FDA-approved to treat alcohol use disorder.

These programs involve working with a team of mental health professionals in a group and individual setting. After one week without alcohol, your risk of seizures is much less. Also, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease will start to decrease. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure and make your heart work harder.

Over time, however, the body builds a tolerance to alcohol, and a person may have to drink more and more to get the same feeling. Meanwhile, the brain is producing more and more neurotransmitters, making a person further imbalanced. A small percentage of people going through alcohol withdrawal have hallucinations at this point. Behavioral therapies can help those struggling with alcohol abuse focus on avoiding old patterns and identify the root causes of addiction. BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care via phone, video, or live-chat. When someone regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol, their brain and body chemistry become irritated.

Start by talking to a healthcare provider about the treatment options for alcohol dependence. The exact timeline for alcohol withdrawal varies from person to person. It’s based on several factors, including how long, how much, and how regularly you have been drinking alcohol. Behavioral treatment programs are helpful for people who want to quit drinking.

People experiencing mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms often receive outpatient care—meaning there is no extended time spent in a hospital or facility. It’s recommended, however, that they have someone stay with them who can help during recovery. If you are concerned about potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms, talk to your doctor. A doctor can evaluate your overall health and alcohol abuse history to help you determine how likely it is that you’ll experience symptoms.

Each of these symptoms can increase in intensity depending on the severity of the withdrawal. If you don’t already have a supportive network, you can make new connections by joining social media communities dedicated to alcohol-free living. It can be helpful to write down your reasons for quitting and the difficulty of withdrawal while it is fresh in your mind. If you or someone you know shows signs of delirium tremens, go to the emergency room immediately. If you decide to get treatment, your doctor can recommend the type of care that you need. When the alcohol level suddenly drops, your brain stays in this keyed up state.

For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We’ll be able to tell you if your insurance provider is in network with an American Addiction Centers treatment facility. Alcohol works as a depressant on the brain, slowing down its functions. Withdrawal is different for everyone; there really is no “normal” and it can be hard to predict an individual person’s experience.

Chronic alcohol misuse can lead to physiological dependence and addiction, or alcohol use disorder. When someone who is dependent on alcohol suddenly stops drinking, they will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be managed in a detox setting. The side effects of alcohol detox can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe and potentially life-threatening, which is why professional treatment is the safest option.