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Home > Health Library > Alcohol Withdrawal
If you drink alcohol regularly and then cut down on how much you drink or suddenly stop drinking, you may go through some physical and emotional problems. That's because the alcohol is clearing out of your system. This is called withdrawal. Clearing the alcohol from your body is called detoxification, or detox.
Most people may be able to cut down or stop drinking with only mild withdrawal.
It can help to rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat healthy foods while your body goes through detox.
But people who drink large amounts of alcohol should not try to detox at home unless they work closely with a doctor to manage it. A person can die of severe alcohol withdrawal.
Before you stop drinking, talk to your doctor about how you plan to stop. It's important to tell your doctor exactly how much you have been drinking. Your doctor will figure out whether you need to detox in a supervised medical center.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may start as soon as 4 to 12 hours after you stop drinking. Or they may not start until several days after the last drink.
Mild symptoms include:
More severe symptoms include:
Symptoms may peak within a few days. Mild symptoms can last for a few weeks. If your symptoms are severe, you'll need to see a doctor.
You may get medicine to treat the symptoms, whether you are at home or in a medical center. Medicine that treats seizures can also help. Your doctor will explain what types of medicine might help you. You may start with a high dose of medicine and then take smaller amounts over several days. There are also medicines that can help you avoid alcohol while you recover.
It can be hard to stop drinking. But after you clear the alcohol from your system, you can start the next, healthier part of your life.
After detox, you will focus on staying alcohol-free. You can learn skills that you can use to stay abstinent (or sober) as you recover. Finding new ways to deal with life's challenges, without drinking, takes time and effort. Recovery is a long-term process. It's not something you can achieve in a few weeks.
Most people get some type of therapy, such as group counseling. You also may need medicine to help you stay sober. Treatment doesn't focus on alcohol use alone. It may address other parts of your life, like your relationships, work, medical problems, and home life.
Treatment, support, patience, and commitment will help you make the changes you need to live a fuller life without alcohol. You may find, over time, that the process gets easier, life becomes more joyous, and your connections to others becomes more rewarding.
Here are a few tips that can help you to not start drinking again.
Current as of:
February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMichael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
Current as of: February 11, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
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