It probably comes as no surprise that alcohol withdrawals get worse as one becomes more dependent. Most everyone knows what a hangover is like, it hits you the next morning and you deal with it the next day, and after 24-hours everything is pretty much back to normal. Of course, once drinking becomes more common or an everyday event most experience mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are much more noticeable. The symptoms are a good sign that alcohol dependency is setting in, and the stages only get worse as the drinking continues and time goes on.
Mild alcohol withdrawal irritations usually peak and then go away after 24-hours depending on the severity of the drinking problem. At this level you can think of them as ‘extended hangovers’ and this is when you know you are headed down the wrong path. The symptoms include unease, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, mild sweating, headaches, and feeling a little bummed out. One might also experience shaking hands, cold sweats, anxiety, and overall depression. Each person experiences alcohol withdrawal differently and could have one or more or even all of these symptoms (cite: 1)
Getting rid of these conditions, symptoms or feelings seems easy to those who are falling prey to dependency, simply having another drink will do the trick, or so their brains are telling them. Once you take a sip, your body and mind are back at ease and the symptoms go away – temporarily.
If you are at this point, you need to know that the chemical and physical withdrawal of alcohol is perhaps 10-days to two-weeks. It’s a sense of uneasiness, mild anxiety, tension, irritation, and feeling very uncomfortable. After that, two-weeks it’s mostly a psychological issue, as your brain and psyche associates alcohol with having a good time. Can you quit drinking for 30-days without intervention? If not, there is a very good chance you are going to eventually experience the next stage of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol dependency.
This continued circular trap of drinking, then withdrawal, then drinking again leads to the next level of dependency and a higher stage of alcohol withdrawal. Let’s call this next level moderate alcohol withdrawal. Generally speaking, it will peak in about 48 hours. You will experience much more of the same, only to a greater degree; increased anxiety, more sweating, more craving for alcohol, mood swings, hypersensitivity, higher blood pressure, and even reflex responses. The more alcohol consumed the greater the intensity of withdrawal (cite: 2).
1. “Alcohol Hangover Mechanisms and Mediators Robert Swift,” M.D., Ph.D.; and Dena Davidson, Ph.D. NIH published research.
2.) “Comparative Effectiveness and Costs of Inpatient and Outpatient Detoxification of Patients with Mild-to-Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome,” Motoi Hayashida, M.D., Sc.D., Arthur I. Alterman, Ph.D., A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D., et. al. New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 1989. DOI: 10.1056/NEJM198902093200605.