Alcohol withdrawal refers to the symptoms that occur when someone who excessively drinks alcohol stops drinking that alcohol suddenly. The side effects of alcohol withdrawal are varied, and range from mild and uncomfortable to more serious, even life-threatening, conditions.
Side effects of alcohol withdrawal commonly occur within the first 5 to 10 hours after the “last” drink, but have been known to also occur even 7 to 10 days later.
Although alcohol withdrawal is more common among adults, it can occur in teenagers and children as well.
Side effects of alcohol withdrawal include minor symptoms (anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal trouble, heart palpitations, headache, diaphoresis, tremulousness), moderate symptoms (tactile, visual and auditory hallucinations) and severe symptoms (seizures, delirium, disorientation, hallucinations, agitation, fever, hypertension, tachycardia).
The amount of alcohol consumption considered to be excessive and which may lead to withdrawal symptoms is the following: 2 to 6 pints of beer or 4 oz. of hard alcohol each day for a week, or any habitual use of alcohol that disrupts daily life and typical routines.
To prevent alcohol withdrawal, one should minimize the use of alcohol or avoid it altogether. In cases of past alcoholism or alcoholism history in the family, it may be necessary to abstain totally from alcohol.
The common solution to alcohol withdrawal includes treating the immediate symptoms, preventing any complications, and long-term preventative therapy thereafter. Rehabilitation is highly recommended for alcoholic patients as well, and includes social support groups, behavior therapy and medications.