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Heavy drinkers of alcohol can face alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they give up alcohol suddenly. In doing so, the body takes time to escape the alcohol deprivation and get used to the new conditions. These symptoms usually range from mild to moderate and severe and depend largely on how long you have been consuming alcohol and the quantities you were drinking. Such symptoms cannot be taken lightly, especially if not tackled effectively and immediately; these symptoms can only worsen snd start to get severe and end up fatal. The symptoms usually worsen in the first few days, two to five days, of leaving alcohol. 


The science behind alcohol withdrawal

When a human being drinks, it directly enhances the effects of GABA ( gamma-Aminobutyric acid). It is a neurotransmitter that calms the mind and brings in a euphoric feeling. Drinking also decreases the effect of glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for emotional sensitivity. Drinking more and more alcohol encourages the body to produce less GABA and more glutamate. When the same person stops drinking all of a sudden, the body continues to behave as earlier – like when it was under the effect of heavy alcohol. The body goes on producing glutamate in excess and under-produces GABA. This is why the person becomes restless, anxious, and shaky. If you have been under the effect of alcohol abuse like you have been drinking heavily earlier, the symptoms could be even more severe when you leave alcohol suddenly. Severe symptoms include tremors, very high blood pressure, and even seizures. 

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms – Common and Severe ones

  1. Common or mild symptoms are symptoms that most drinkers face after suddenly giving up drinks. The symptoms start to show any time after leaving drinks to at least seven days later in most cases. 
  • Feeling of anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Depression 
  • Tired and shaky
  • Mood swings
  • Tremors
  • Lacking clarity of thoughts
  • Sweating incessantly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having nightmares
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sleeping problems
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Increased heart rate


  1. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms

One of the severe symptoms are termed delirium tremens or DTs. Even though only three to five percent of heavy drinkers experience DTs, it is a condition that one needs to look out for. Remember, if the condition is not immediately treated, it can become fatal. Therefore, you need to seek emergency treatment. If you know anyone who needs speedy assistance with DT, you must consult with an addiction treatment center in your region. The symptoms of delirium tremens are

  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • A higher degree of confusion
  • Extremely agitated.
  • Hallucinations wherein the person starts to see, hear or imagine things that are not real.

How does the doctor diagnose that you are suffering from alcohol withdrawal?

A physical examination is a must. The doctor also reviews your history and advises a blood test. During the physical examination, the doctor will evaluate based on alcohol withdrawal symptoms like fast heartbeat, dilated pupils, fever, high BP, fast breathing, and tremoring hands. A Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol is also carried out. 


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