If you drink alcohol regularly and then suddenly stop, you may go through some physical and emotional problems while the alcohol clears out of your system. Clearing the alcohol from your body is called detoxification, or detox. Physical and emotional problems that may happen during detox are called withdrawal.
Symptoms of withdrawal can be scary and dangerous. Mild symptoms include nausea and vomiting, sweating, shakiness, and intense worry. Severe symptoms include being confused and irritable, feeling things on your body that are not there, seeing or hearing things that are not there, and trembling. You may even have seizures. If your symptoms become severe you must see a doctor. People who drink large amounts of alcohol should not try to detox at home. A person can die of severe alcohol withdrawal.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may begin from 4 to 12 hours after you stop drinking. But they may not start for several days after the last drink. They can last a few days.
It is hard to stop drinking. But when you have cleared the alcohol from your system, you will be able to start the next part of your life, free from the burden of being dependent.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
If you are caring for someone who is going through detox, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: May 8, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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