Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms


When an alcohol dependent individual suddenly refrains from drinking alcohol, he or she typically suffers alcohol withdrawal symptoms (also known as symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by some people).

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are, for the most part, responses by the body and by the brain to the lack of alcohol to which they have become accustomed.

Tolerance, Alcohol Withdrawal, and the Brain

With the regular ingestion of alcohol, the brain, over time, adjusts to the alcohol in order to function "normally."

This not only explains how physical tolerance develops but it also explains why increasingly more levels of alcohol are required in order to experience the same "buzz" or "high" with regular use.


When a person who has displayed a pattern of continuous and excessive ingestion abruptly stops drinking alcohol, however, he or she typically experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms that might take days or weeks before the body returns to "normal."

To a great extent, then, alcohol withdrawal symptoms (also called alcoholism withdrawal symptoms by some individuals) are responses by the brain and by the body to the depletion of alcohol to which they had become adapted.

Depending upon the level of addiction that the person has reached, furthermore, alcoholism withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe and can include both behavioral and psychological aspects.

Mild to Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following is a list of mild to moderate alcoholism withdrawal symptoms that usually occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink has been consumed:

  • Sweating (especially on the face or the palms of the hands)

  • Rapid emotional changes

  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulties

  • Clammy skin

  • Easily excited, irritability

  • Vomiting

  • Feeling nervous or jumpy

  • Depression

  • Tremor of the hands

  • Headaches (especially those that pulsate)

  • Difficulty thinking clearly

  • Fatigue

  • Looking pale, without color

  • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

  • Nightmares

  • Anxiety

  • Abnormal movements

  • Eyes or pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Nausea

  • Loss of appetite

Severe Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms

The following are severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that typically take place within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink has been ingested:

  • Excessive irritability

  • Increased depression

  • Fever

  • Increased difficulty thinking clearly

  • Convulsions

  • More extreme emotional changes

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Seizures

  • Muscle tremors

  • Black outs

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Extreme anxiety

Conclusion: Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal. By definition, people who abuse alcohol but who are not alcohol dependent usually do not experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly quit drinking.

As a result, it makes sense to perceive alcohol withdrawal symptoms as "symptoms of alcohol withdrawal" or as "alcoholism withdrawal symptoms."

The first concern when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms should be who you should contact about the alcoholism withdrawal symptoms from which you are suffering.


The most important thing to be taken from this discussion is this: if you are an alcoholic and are suffering from alcoholism withdrawal symptoms, always see your doctor or healthcare provider immediately so that he or she can assess the severity of your circumstance and recommend the best treatment option available for your particular situation.

Indeed, due to the fact that some alcoholism withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, it can be critically important to contact your physician or healthcare practitioner before you quit drinking and experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.