Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Orange County Detox

Alcohol Facts

Alcohol consumption is socially acceptable and widely used but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. In fact, alcohol is more physically destructive when misused than nearly all other recreational drugs combined. Alcohol-related problems are among the most significant public health issues in the United States. Alcohol abuse is now the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. What’s more…those who died from alcoholism lost an average of 30 years of lifespan.

History of Alcohol Withdrawal

Around 400 B.C. Hippocrates wrote the first clinical report on alcohol withdrawal. He wrote, that if the patient is in the prime of life and if from drinking he has trembling hands, it may well be the case that the patient is showing signs of alcohol withdrawal.

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

The “for sure” sign that alcohol withdrawal syndrome is present is a cluster of unpleasant symptoms observed in persons who have recently discontinued drinking. Moreover, the signs of alcohol withdrawal can begin when the drinker still has significant blood alcohol concentrations.

Alcohol withdrawal signs and symptoms may include

Mild alcohol withdrawal

Mild alcohol withdrawal generally consists of anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and decreased appetite. Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically appear within 24-hours after discontinuation. 

  1. Light Sensitivity
  2. Nausea
  3. Headache
  4. Dehydration
  5. Irritability
  6. Lack of Appetite


Moderate alcohol withdrawal

Moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur 24-36 hours after discontinuation of alcohol consumption and include manifestations such as intense anxiety, tremors, insomnia, and excessive adrenergic symptoms.

  1. Alcohol Craving
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Dehydration
  5. Lethargy
  6. Anorexia
  7. Weakness
  8. Incongruent Thoughts
  9. Slight Tremors
  10. Depression


Severe alcohol withdrawal

Severe alcohol withdrawal usually is characterized by trembling of the hands and arms, sweating, elevation of pulse (above 100) and blood pressure (greater than 140/90), nausea (with or without vomiting), and hypersensitivity to noises (which seem louder than usual) and light (which appears brighter than usual). Brief periods of hearing and seeing things that are not present (auditory and visual hallucinations) also may occur. A fever greater than 101° F also may be seen. Seizures and true delirium tremens, represent the most extreme forms of severe alcohol withdrawal.

Physiological Symptoms
  1. Profuse Sweating
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Anorexia
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Dehydration
  7. Tremulousness
  8. High Blood Pressure
  9. Increased Heart Rate
  10. Tonic-Clonic Seizures
  11. Stroke
  12. Death


Psychological Symptoms
  1. Alcohol Craving
  2. Fear
  3. Anxiety
  4. Paranoia
  5. Disorientation
  6. Confusion
  7. Psychosis
  8. Insomnia
  9. Auditory Hallucinations
  10. Visual Hallucinations
  11. Tactile Hallucinations
  12. Confabulation
  13. Irritability
  14. Screaming
  15. Mumbling
  16. Psychosis
  17. Depression
  18. Suicidal Thoughts



The evolvement of alcohol withdrawal symptoms is extremely variable. An individual may progress partially through some withdrawal symptoms and then have a slow improvement. Other drinkers may have mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms with almost immediate resolution. Yet another group may have a Tonic-Clonic seizure with or without hallucinations. Some drinkers regardless of their pattern of drinking or the extent of drinking, appear to develop minor symptoms or show no symptoms of withdrawal. Though, infrequent binge drinkers seem less likely to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms as opposed to drinkers who are heavy regular users of alcohol.

Most people who go through alcohol withdrawal make a full recovery.  However, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and men and women who experience withdrawal symptoms are sometimes better cared for in an Alcohol Dependence Detoxification Center.