How to Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Last Updated: January 17, 2023
The discomfort of alcohol withdrawal can make it difficult to maintain sobriety, especially for those who have been drinking heavily for a long period of time. The body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, and going through withdrawal can be a challenging experience. The craving for alcohol can be intense and overwhelming, which can lead to relapse.
It can be difficult to break the habit of drinking, as alcohol has become a part of the person’s lifestyle. In order to maintain sobriety, it is important for individuals to have a strong support system in place and to be aware of their triggers and potential relapse situations. Before giving up drinking, it’s essential to know how to deal with alcohol withdrawal, and that in most cases, completing a medical detox program is the best option.
What to Expect During Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable and can make it difficult to maintain sobriety. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal start to appear within 6–24 hours of the last drink, and can include tremors, sweating, nausea, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. These symptoms can be very uncomfortable and can last for days or weeks. The severity of the symptoms experienced is dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed, the length of time alcohol was used, and the individual’s overall health.
Additionally, alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, which is a severe form of withdrawal that can cause confusion, agitation and hallucinations. In some cases, delirium tremens can be fatal, which is why it’s essential to seek professional treatment when giving up alcohol.
Find A Support System Before Withdrawing
Finding a support system is necessary to cope with alcohol withdrawal, because it provides a network of people who understand and can provide emotional support. Having people to talk to can be a great source of relief in times of stress and can help an individual stay motivated to keep pushing through the withdrawal process.
Write Yourself A Letter
Writing yourself a letter is a great way to help cope with the alcohol withdrawal process. The letter can be used to express feelings and thoughts, relieve stress, identify triggers and plan for how to manage them. Writing down your feelings can help you to process them in a safe and non-judgmental way. It can also provide motivation and help to uncover any underlying issues that may be causing you to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Additionally, writing out your plans for how you will manage your withdrawal process can help to give you a concrete road map and provide a sense of control and structure.
Create A Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan is a good idea before going through alcohol withdrawal, because it can help to:
- Reduce the risk of relapse
- Identify potential triggers
- Provide strategies for coping with cravings and difficult emotions
- Provide a sense of structure
- Offer hope and motivation
Take Cold Showers
Cold showers are a great way to help relieve stress and anxiety brought on by alcohol withdrawal. Cold showers help to:
- Reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn can help to reduce stress
- Relax the body and mind, allowing for a more peaceful state of mind.
- Stimulate the release of endorphins, reducing the physical discomfort associated with withdrawal
- Increase alertness and clarity of thought, which can restore a sense of well-being.
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber are beneficial for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal due to their ability to regulate digestion, reduce bloating, and provide key vitamins and minerals. Fiber helps to:
- Keep blood sugar levels in check, which can reduce symptoms of anxiety that often accompany alcohol withdrawal.
- Regulate the digestive system, which can reduce symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Additionally, fruits and vegetables are rich in important vitamins and minerals that support the body during detoxification.
Attempting to detox without medical assistance can cause severe complications, one of which is dehydration. Side effects like sweating, vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration as the body is losing more water than it can replace. This is a serious health hazard, so it is important to be aware of the risks and take the necessary steps to stay hydrated and healthy.
Try To Get Some Exercise
Exercise and physical activity can play an important role in managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Exercise can help to reduce:
- Cravings for alcohol
- Risk of relapse
Regular physical activity can also improve sleep quality and physical well-being. which can be an issue during alcohol withdrawal.
Find Healthy Distractions
Finding healthy distractions from alcohol withdrawal is an important part of the recovery process. It can help keep cravings at bay, and make the time spent abstaining from alcohol more bearable. Healthy distractions can also replace the negative emotions and thoughts associated with alcohol withdrawal, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, engaging in healthy activities can distract you from the physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as headaches and nausea.
Know When To Seek Medical Attention
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include confusion, fever, seizures and even hallucinations. It is important to seek help for these symptoms, as they can be life-threatening, and can worsen if left untreated. Alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, which is a state of confusion, agitation and tremors.
It is important to seek medical attention to prevent and manage these symptoms, as they can be very dangerous. Withdrawal should be done in a medical environment, so that the person can be closely monitored and treated if needed. Seeking help can also address underlying issues that may have led to alcohol abuse.
How Medical Detox Can Help Ease Withdrawal Symptoms
Medically supervised detox manages withdrawal by providing access to medical staff who can monitor a patient’s condition and give alcohol withdrawal medications to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. Some of these medications can reduce the severity of symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, tremors and seizures. In some cases, medications are needed to reduce complications from severe alcohol withdrawal.
The medical staff can also provide psychological support and guidance to help individuals cope with the psychological aspects of withdrawal. In addition, they can offer nutritional counseling and help individuals rehydrate and replenish electrolytes that have been lost due to excessive alcohol consumption. Ultimately, medically supervised detox can help with getting through alcohol withdrawal in a safe, comfortable and managed environment.
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- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.” Revised 2015. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- Kieffer, Dorothy A.; Martin, Roy J.; Adams, Sean H. “Impact of Dietary Fibers on Nutrient Management and Detoxification Organs: Gut, Liver, and Kidneys.” Advances in Nutrition, November 2016. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- Smith, M.A.; Chick, J.D.; Engleman, H.M.; Kean, D.M.; Mander, A.J.; Douglas, R.H.; Best, J.J. “Brain hydration during alcohol withdrawal in alcoholics measured by magnetic resonance imaging.”Drug and Alcohol Dependence, February 1988. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- Motaghinejad M.; Bangash M.Y.; Motaghinejad, O. “Attenuation of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and Blood Cortisol Level with Forced Exercise in Comparison with Diazepam.”Acta Medica Iranica, 2021. Accessed February 28, 2023.
- Rahman, Abdul; Paul, Manuj. “Delirium tremens.” National Library of Medicine, August 22, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2023.
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