Approximately one-half of patients with alcohol use disorder who abruptly stop or reduce their alcohol use will develop signs or symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The syndrome is due to overactivity of the central and autonomic nervous systems, leading to tremors, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety, and agitation. If untreated or inadequately treated, withdrawal can progress to generalized tonic-clonic seizures, delirium tremens, and death. The three-question Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption and the Single Alcohol Screening Question instrument have the best accuracy for assessing unhealthy alcohol use in adults 18 years and older.

  • It is possible to get treatment and live a healthier life with a better relationship with alcohol.
  • As a depressant, alcohol can suppress the central nervous system (CNS), making the body reliant on it with prolonged exposure.
  • Based on the patient’s score on the CIWA–Ar, the physician determines the appropriate treatment (see table).

If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing this form of withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately. Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Alcohol withdrawal treatments

Call your provider or go the emergency room if you think you might be in, especially if you were using alcohol often and recently stopped. Call for an appointment with your provider if symptoms persist after treatment. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to occur within 8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis suddenly stops drinking alcohol. There is no exact timeline for alcohol withdrawal, and individual factors, such as previous level of dependence on alcohol, will influence it. A doctor or other treatment professional may evaluate for the above factors prior to making a recommendation for the level of detox care and detox timeline needed to keep a person safe and comfortable.

  • Gathering a supportive network of friends and family members, as well as an addiction support group or even an inpatient rehabilitation center, can help you through this process.
  • Patients with alcohol hallucinosis see, hear, or feel things that are not there even though they are fully conscious and aware of their surroundings.
  • Patients having seizures also need urgent treatment with a benzodiazepine to reduce the likelihood of further seizures.
  • When a person stops drinking, these neurotransmitters react by working feverishly.
  • Before initiating any interventions, the first step in managing a patient’s withdrawal is to assess thoroughly the patient’s condition.
  • If you have withdrawal symptoms from drinking, then you have consumed enough alcohol to damage other organs.
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include shaking, sweating, headache, nausea, and other physical symptoms.

Your doctor can also put you in touch with local resources that will help you to stay alcohol free. Once you have gone through withdrawal, you’ll also need a plan to remain alcohol-free. Start by talking to a healthcare provider about the treatment options for alcohol dependence. Alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD), commonly known as delirium tremens (DT), is the most serious symptom of alcohol withdrawal.

Outpatient Treatment

A common benzodiazepine that a doctor may prescribe includes diazepam. During initial treatment, a person may receive a higher dosage of benzodiazepines to reduce symptoms and the urge to drink alcohol. After symptoms subside, a doctor will taper the dose until they determine the individual no longer requires medication. If you are concerned about potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms, talk to your doctor. A doctor can evaluate your overall health and alcohol abuse history to help you determine how likely it is that you’ll experience symptoms.

Other drugs often used to manage symptoms include neuroleptics, anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, and valproic acid. Patients with prolonged altered sensorium or significant renal abnormalities should receive an evaluation for the potential ingestion of another toxic alcohol. Patients who become financially strapped due to alcoholism could ingest other alcohols to become intoxicated.