Alcohol Withdrawal – Know What to Expect When You Quit Drinking

You know you have to stop drinking, but you’re worried about what will happen if do — you’ll start going through withdrawal. Will you spend days in bed shaking or throwing up? Will it be too much for you to handle? Or are movies and tv shows exaggerating for added drama? The truth is, alcohol withdrawal is hard, uncomfortable, painful, and at times even dangerous. But it’s also a necessary step you need to go through before getting better. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more prepared and ensure that you go through detox without putting yourself in danger.

What Happens to Your Body After You Quit Drinking

Over 50 percent of those who struggling with alcohol abuse experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Chronic heavy-drinker can also experience withdrawal if they decrease the amount of alcohol they consume. Symptoms typically appear in stages.

Stage 1: Within 24 Hours of Your Last Drink

The onset of withdrawal symptoms depends on how much and how often you consume alcohol. Heavy drinkers can begin experiencing symptoms of withdrawal as early as 2 hours after their last drink.

Stage 2: 24 to 72 Hours After Your Last Drink

In addition to the symptoms experienced during stage one, you may also experience the following symptoms.

Stage 3: 4 to 7 Days After Your Last Drink

This can be a particularly dangerous time, as symptoms of delirium tremens (DT), also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium (AWD), can begin to manifest. It is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and can be deadly if not treated. Approximately 1 in 25 people die from DT every year.

While most of your physical symptoms will peak within a week of your last drink, psychological side effects can last for weeks, especially if you do not seek treatment.

Why You Should Never Detox from Alcohol on Your Own

While you may be thinking that you can handle this by yourself, or that you will be one of the lucky ones and only experience mild symptoms, the truth is that detoxing on your own is taking a chance with your life. Symptoms of withdrawal can occur rapidly and without warning. They can go from mild to severe in minutes and demand immediate medical attention. If you detox on your own, you may be unable to receive treatment in time. That’s exactly what happened to Nelsan Ellis, the 39-year old ‘True Blood’ who died from alcohol withdrawal complications after he tried to quit drinking on his own. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol withdrawal kills roughly 800 people per year. Countless others end up being rushed to the emergency room for medical treatment. Detoxing under the care of medical professionals prevents symptoms from spiraling out of control and protects you from potentially life-threatening complications that can arise during withdrawal. But medical detox doesn’t just keep you safe while your body rids itself of alcohol, it also offers several other benefits to help you succeed in the long-term.


Even if you don’t experience any life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, detoxing from alcohol can be both painful and uncomfortable. A doctor can prescribe you the necessary medications to help you manage and minimize these symptoms.


It’s not just medical complications that can put your safety at risk during your first days of sobriety, there’s also triggers and temptations. By detoxing at home, you are risking exposure to people or things that can cause you to relapse. Detoxing in a treatment center provides you with a safe and serene environment for you to start healing both your mind and body.


Quitting isn’t easy, and there will be times when you will be tempted to have a drink. While you may have someone at home who supports your decision to quit, they can’t be with you every minute of the day. And it is in those times when you are alone, that you are most at risk. When you opt for medical detox, you always have someone there to help you get through those challenging moments.

Continued Treatment

Detoxing is a great first step, but the work rarely stops there. If your goal is to not only get sober but also stay sober, you will need to continue to address your addiction long after your withdrawal symptoms subside. To help you understand what caused your addiction and how to prevent a relapse, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, or counseling may be necessary. By detoxing in a treatment center, you will already have access to various levels of care.

Knowing that you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating, but with the right support system by your side, you can successfully get through the detox process and start recovering from addiction. So, don’t wait to get the help you need. Learn about Mountainside Detox and start fighting back against your addiction today.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.