Alcohol Withdrawal – What to do if You Can’t Sleep

Alcohol Withdrawal – What to do if You Can’t Sleep


Alcohol withdrawal and you can’t sleep – yes this is a common enough problem with anyone who has quit drinking and it can actually be a bit of a nightmare (no pun intended, sorry) for the recovering alcoholic because if they cannot sleep then they probably have the creepy crawlies and feel like just about jumping out of their own skin.  In most cases they will be very uncomfortable at this point and sleep would indeed be a welcome relief.  But if they are at this point then there is not much hope for sleep, especially if they are detoxing from alcohol on their own.

The problem is that many alcoholics have become dependent on alcohol physically, and many of them have not really fallen asleep naturally without the use of alcohol for a long time.  Even if they are not using alcohol as a sleep aid specifically, the withdrawal symptoms from detoxing will put their brain in a state of hyper awareness.  Essentially, their brain is saying “hey, I’m used to a little more of a depressed state, what is going on here?  I’m racing!”  And so they cannot hope to sleep as they have basically shocked their mind and their body by not giving it any alcohol all of a sudden.

36 hours of no sleep and counting/unflattering portrait 02
Creative Commons License photo credit: qoui

So what is the solution?

Well some people will inevitably drink at this point, and that is not too surprising. Of course we don’t want this to happen and would like to find an alternative.  Some people do exactly that by turning to other drugs or sleep aids in order to help them sleep through the alcohol withdrawal.  Again, this is probably a really bad idea, especially if you are not following the advice of a doctor, because (surprise!) alcoholics are not always so great at medicating themselves properly.  In fact, it can get pretty dangerous in some cases.

The solution is a bit expensive, but it has to be said anyway: go to rehab.  Trained medical staff can ease you through the alcohol withdrawal process and help you to sleep by treating your detox symptoms with carefully prescribed medication.  There are different drugs that can be used in order to accomplish this, and none of them should be administered by the alcoholic themselves (in my opinion).  Much better to have a doctor who is trained in dealing with addiction and detox to guide you through this process, like they have done with hundreds of alcoholics before you.

This is not to mention the fact that if you do not attend treatment while detoxing from alcohol, then you run a high risk of having a seizure as well.  This is just plain dangerous and you should also realize that alcohol withdrawal itself can be fatal.  Yes, you can die if you do not get help when you quit drinking.  So do take it seriously and consider professional services.

If you can’t sleep through alcohol withdrawal, consider going to treatment.  They can help you, and give you a better chance at staying sober in the long run.


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