What are the Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms to Watch for?

What are the Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms to Watch for?


What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?  What should you watch for when someone is detoxing from alcohol?

First of all, keep in mind that symptoms will vary from person to person.  Some people will get different symptoms than others.  So watch for all of these.

Some of the more common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

1. Nausea and vomiting

2. Sweating

3. Agitation

4. Anxiety, nervousness, anxious.

5. Tremors, shaking.  (Have them stick out their tongue and watch their tongue for tremors for a more accurate measurement than the hands).

6. Tactile disturbances – such as feeling the skin crawl.

7. Visual disturbances – such as seeing tracers, spots, sparkles, or full blown hallucinations.

8. Audio disturbances – such as hearing things too sensitively, or hearing things that are not there.

9. Disorientation, delusional – not knowing what is going on or where they are, etc.

10. Headache

Some of these symptoms are no big deal, while others are very important, as they signal conditions that could be very dangerous or even life threatening.  For example, people who are extremely delusional and have bad tremors probably need emergency medical care.  They are much more likely at that point to have a seizure, even if they have never had a seizure before in their life.

You can treat some of these withdrawal symptoms from alcohol yourself, such as the headache, by simply taking over the counter medications.  But if you notice any delusional behavior, severe shaking, or hallucinations, then that person needs to go to the emergency room.  Alcohol withdrawal is serious and can be fatal, so don’t mess around with this.

Can you treat alcohol withdrawal by drinking small amounts of alcohol?

Yeah, sort of.  But most alcoholics can not control this method, and if you are administering alcohol to the alcoholic to try and ween them down, then you are playing with fire.  A better approach is to get them to a treatment center where the professionals can detox them properly using anti-seizure medications.  Anything else is really taking quite a risk.

Use some common sense when doing this sort of thing and if someone is really sick or is seeing things then get them to a hospital.  There are some general principles that might help as well:

1) Drink lots of ice water.  Constantly in fact.  Stay well hydrated.  For some alcoholics, it will be impossible to keep food down, so use ice water.  If that is too much then just have them suck on ice chips.

2) Sleep.  A lot.  Fatigue is normal when detoxing from alcohol.  So get lots of rest.

3) Don’t use other drugs – unless they are being given to you by a medical professional to help you detox.  For example, don’t take a bunch of sleeping pills to try and avoid the discomfort of withdrawal.

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