Alcohol Withdrawals & Detox

Alcohol Withdrawals

Our Board-Certified Psychiatrist talks about the risks associated with alcohol withdrawals and the proper management for detoxing. Coalition Recovery strongly recommends that those who have been struggling with alcohol use disorder for an extended period of time and wish to stop, to reach out to professional help. Withdrawals can be extremely unpleasant if done without proper care and medication management.

Alcohol Withdrawal & Detox

Alcohol is a chemical compound that causes a variety of effects on many different parts of the human body. It is impossible to reduce its effects, positive or negative, to a simple metric. A general description of alcohol is that it is a central nervous system depressant meaning it impairs one’s perception and slows reaction time. Those effects can makes us feel more relaxed and lower our inhibitions while at the same time it also increases the risk of accidents or makes the intoxicated person more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
When a person drinks, the alcohol increases the effects of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for creating feelings of euphoria and calmness as well as decreasing glutamate, another neurotransmitter that increases feelings of excitement. When a person drinks heavy and often, the body starts to think it isn’t necessary to produce as many neurotransmitters naturally; so over time, naturally producing GABA decreases increasing glutamate as well. Eventually more alcohol is needed to feel the same desired effects as before. Therefore, when an individual who has been consistently drinking for some time stops drinking, their neurotransmitter levels are very low leading to harmful consequences called withdrawals.
Withdrawal symptoms typically start after Withdrawal symptoms can range from person to person, therefore it is appropriate to understand the different types of drinking patterns.

Moderate Drinkers
Moderate drinking is drinking up to 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. Withdrawals from this type of drinking are rare and minimal if any. Withdrawal symptoms could include minor irritations like headaches and irritableness.

Binge Drinkers
Drinking alcohol to obtain (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This usually occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. Depending on their frequency, binge drinkers can produce minor withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, and shakiness when drinking stops.

Heavy Drinkers
For men, having 15 drinks or more during a week is considered heavy drinking. For women, it’s eight drinks over the course of a week. For heavy drinkers, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be substantially more severe. The cessation of drinking can lead to symptoms like confusion, racing heart, high blood pressure, fever and heavy sweating.


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Lara Frazier
Lara Frazier
20:40 11 Dec 18
The opportunity to go to Coalition recovery is the best gift my mother has ever given me. From the moment I walked in the front door I felt a huge weight lift and I knew that if I put in the work my life was about to improve exponentially. Every staff member that works there has a huge heart and I felt more than comfortable sharing my inner most secrets with them and asking for help and advice. They have helped me overcome extreme anxiety and depression issues, have helped grow my feeling of self worth, they have led me in the right direction to have a fulfilling life and have made me truly excited for my future. I took advantage of every opportunity they gave me. They even have a program that will get you on track to pursue a degree! I was fearful that I would never be able to succeed in college and I am thrilled to tell them about all of my successes! Dr. Val is my personal therapist and I can not say enough nice things about how she has helped me. I truly value her opinions and how she challenges me. I do not know where I would be or how I would be doing without her. If you are truly ready to change your life and willing to do the work and stay open minded Coalition will be the place that turns your life around. Every clinitian and staff member is completely dedicated and invested in my well being and I am excited to stay in contact and be one (of their many) success stories! Thank you Coalition Recovery!
Amanda Cilento
Amanda Cilento
19:55 18 Jan 19
Coalition Recovery is a top notch drug & alcohol rehab facility! Their staff does a great job and genuinely cares for their patients. I highly recommend them to anyone struggling with substance abuse problems.
Thomas Jenkins
Thomas Jenkins
20:13 12 Feb 19
Coalition provides amazing treatment and aftercare for those struggling with addictions. The staff and executives are top notch and focus on client care first before anything else. Their approach to addiction treatment and the Renaissance program are unlike any I’ve seen. They are not solely concerned on the client remaining substance free, but also with having a high quality of living and living life to their fullest potential.
Stefanie Crain
Stefanie Crain
14:21 15 Jun 18
I would be proud to recommend Coalition Recovery to close friends and family. They truly take the time to understand you specifically. They don’t force any particular program on you, so you can just use what works best for you. Thank you Coalition Recovery, I hope the best for you guys
Mary Carlton Romanski
Mary Carlton Romanski
15:20 15 Jun 18
Wonderful! Coalition is the best of the best! The staff are not only professional, educated, and welcoming, but extremely passionate about loving and treating people who battle the disease of addiction. What makes Coaltion stand out from the rest is their aftercare program, where you'll be supported and counseled by the same staff who worked with you while you were inpatient. A "coalition" is an alliance for combined action, but this treatment facility is more than that: it's a family.
18:27 05 Nov 18
Top-notch treatment center! A friend of mine went to treatment here for help with his drinking problem. He tells me all the time that Coalition Recovery saved his life! It's great seeing my buddy back to his old self. Glad he found exactly what he needed at CR.
Patrick Sneed
Patrick Sneed
22:00 21 Jan 19
The leadership, and the members of the organization as a whole, are all true professionals. This attentive and caring staff won’t just put a band-aid on. Their approach will treat underlying causes and create positive outcomes for everyone. If you’re in the Tampa Bay Area, this is the only place to go for treatment.
Ryan Matheson
Ryan Matheson
13:24 29 Jun 18
If you’re looking for a treatment facility for either you or a loved one- Coalition Recovery is hands down the best choice. I have never met a staff more dedicated to actual PATIENT CARE than this facility. Truly, this staff is committed to not only caring for patients in fragile physical and/or mental states but also assisting in the process of sobriety beyond the inpatient level. This is not ‘just’ a treatment center; it is the first step in a new beginning.
Carly Svetec
Carly Svetec
21:07 22 Jun 18

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

infographic explaining severe alcohol withdrawal timeline

Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Mild symptoms usually show up as early as 6 hours. The severity of withdrawals is dependent on the severity and frequency of drinking. These feelings can be apparent for binge drinkers but very common with heavy drinkers.

  • Feeling anxious or nervous
  • Feeling depressed
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling wiped out and tired
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Not being able to think clearly
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shakiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Faster heart rate
  • Tremor

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

More serious problems range from hallucinations about 12 to 24 hours after that last drink to seizures within the first 2 days. These severe withdrawal symptoms are for individuals who have been heavy drinkers for a extended period of time – usually over a year. If you believe you may be a heavy drinker it is crucial that you do not try to quit drinking without professional help. Alcohol withdrawals can be extremely unpleasant and even sometimes fatal. An Alcohol Detox like Coalition Recovery is designed to help individuals through the withdrawal stages with minimum discomfort and maximum safety. Severe withdrawal symptoms include.

  • Hallucinations (feeling, seeing, or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • Extreme agitation
  • Fever
  • Extreme confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures (Delirium Tremens)
  • Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD) is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal. It causes sudden and severe problems in the brain and nervous system leading to severe confusion and grand mal seizures that can be fatal without proper medical supervision.


Knowing the severity of your potential withdrawal is very important considering the possibility of fatal outcomes. Alcohol withdrawal is primarily diagnosed with a physical exam and a toxicology screen. Toxicology screenings measure the amount of alcohol present in your blood and urine. Additional to your exams, the doctor will also look for physical symptoms like: tremors in your hands, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, fever, dilated pupils and fast breathing.
The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol scale is also a very common questionnaire that doctors may use to establish the severity of withdrawal. This questionnaire asks 10 questions to measure:

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Tremor
  3. Sweating
  4. Anxiety
  5. Agitation
  6. Tactile disturbances, which are abnormal feelings in, on, or underneath your skin
  7. Auditory disturbances, which involve your hearing
  8. Visual disturbances, which involve your vision
  9. Headache
  10. Confusion

Detox at Home or Alcohol Treatment?

Your treatment will depend on the severity of drinking and therefore the severity of symptoms. Always consult your primary physician first before you quit drinking on your own. IF you are considering quitting drinking it is important to seek medical advice first to ensure your safety. Consult your primary physician or call our recovery specialist today (888) 707-2873

Mild to Moderate Symptoms

If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, chances are you will be able to recuperate at home but it is advised to have someone there with you during this stage to watch you in the event that your symptoms get worse. Counseling is often suggested to take a proactive step towards alcohol use.

Moderate to Severe Symptoms

These symptoms will require more intense monitoring. Individuals will typically be hospitalized to monitor vitals, monitor blood chemical levels, and to administer intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration. Sedative medications and are often administered to help with the adverse effects and seizures. Detox centers specialize in the safe and effective detox from drugs and/or alcohol. Learn more about the detox procedure.

Long-Term Treatment

Detoxing from a drug is a short-term fix to the overall problem. The best long-term treatment towards alcohol use is abstinence. Clinical treatment involving evidence-based psychotherapy counseling and medication offer the best chance towards lifelong recovery. Call Coalition Recovery and have one of our addiction specialist set you up with a personalized program today.

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