Get Alcohol Help: Alcohol Detox Side Effects

Here are some of the improvements you could see from cutting out alcohol, in the short- and long-term. Stage one of withdrawal begins within 6 to 12 hours after the last drink. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But once you fall into slumber, it can wake you up repeatedly in the night. Plus, it disrupts the important REM stage of sleep and may interfere with your breathing.

alcohol detox side effects

If you are thinking about quitting drinking, talk to your healthcare provider. Medical supervision, behavioral health treatment, and mutual-aid groups can help you through alcohol withdrawal and stay stopped. Approximately one in 10 people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome are affected by seizures.7 If left untreated, up to one in three of these patients go on to experience delirium tremens. Inpatient treatment, or staying at a hospital or care facility, may be necessary for someone with moderate to severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Inpatient treatment allows healthcare professionals to monitor you for DT or hallucinations, monitor your vitals, and administer fluids or medicine intravenously if needed. People with chronic or severe alcoholism can be at risk for severe withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

What Are the Side Effects of Alcohol Detox?

Experts recommend avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia. A damaged pancreas can also prevent your body from producing enough insulin to use sugar. Drinking too much alcohol over time may cause inflammation of the pancreas, resulting in pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can activate the release of pancreatic digestive enzymes and cause abdominal pain. Alcohol use can also lead to more lasting concerns that extend beyond your own mood and health.

alcohol detox side effects

Whether you are stopping for good, or just having some time off, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the changes you could see. But first, if you think you may be dependent on alcohol, you should consult your doctor or another medical professional. One person may complete detox within a few days while another struggles and experiences symptoms for a week or more.

Getting Help for Alcohol Withdrawal

Chronic drinking can affect your heart and lungs, raising your risk of developing heart-related health issues. The pancreas helps regulate how your body uses insulin and responds to glucose. If your pancreas and liver don’t function properly due to pancreatitis or liver disease, you could experience low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. But more recent research suggests there’s really no “safe” amount of alcohol since even moderate drinking can negatively impact brain health. Past guidance around alcohol use generally suggests a daily drink poses little risk of negative health effects — and might even offer a few health benefits. Many people assume the occasional beer or glass of wine at mealtimes or special occasions doesn’t pose much cause for concern.

This is because alcohol is a costly habit, so giving it up can free up some extra cash. Another benefit of giving up alcohol is that your mind may be clearer. This is because alcohol can cause changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to cognitive problems.

Behavioral Treatment

But anything more than a drink or so a day has the opposite effect, especially if you abuse or are addicted to alcohol. A person with delirium tremens needs to be hospitalized until the symptoms can be controlled. These symptoms generally appear 12 to 24 hours after your last drink.

alcohol detox side effects

Beginning an alcohol detox program starts with a clinical assessment, followed by the actual detoxification and withdrawal process. Getting sober from alcohol is not something everyone can do on their own. Alcohol detox, a type of treatment program, can offer medical support and treatment for people with alcohol use disorder who are trying to become alcohol-free. Outpatient alcohol detox may be a good fit for people at low risk for severe withdrawal. Withdrawal progress is monitored through frequent check-up appointments within outpatient clinical settings (e.g., doctor’s office), allowing for the level of care to be escalated if needed. People with alcohol use disorder should be monitored by a medical professional when withdrawing from alcohol.

Giving up drinking may let you focus on your relationships, work, and health. It also may ease any depression and anxiety and elevate your self-esteem. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal relate proportionately to the level of alcohol intake and the duration of the person’s recent drinking habit. However, it’s not generally recommended, particularly for people who are at a high risk of severe alcohol withdrawal. Severe alcohol withdrawal, a condition known as delirium tremens, can develop in some people within the first 72 hours of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol detox is a necessary first step for anyone with alcohol dependence, a condition that can develop through chronic, heavy drinking.

  • Unfortunately, while alcohol may make it seem like you are falling asleep quicker, it can also lead to worse sleep quality.
  • There are many resources available to help, including peer support groups, counseling, therapy, and inpatient rehabilitation.
  • Alcohol affects the area of the brain responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ function which helps our brains respond to danger, by preparing us to either react or run away.
  • Going through alcohol detoxification on your own can be very difficult.

In contrast, a long-term, heavy drinker is more likely to experience symptoms of all three stages. Some people who stop drinking may experience delirium tremens (DT). This condition is serious and may lead to symptoms such as high blood pressure, tremors, and seizures. The first day is always the hardest, but it’s also an important milestone. After 24 hours without alcohol, your body will start to detoxify and you may experience withdrawal symptoms. A doctor may also prescribe a sedative drug, such as a benzodiazepine, to help reduce withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness or agitation.

If alcohol is interfering with your health or your personal, financial, or professional life, consider quitting. When someone drinks alcohol for a prolonged period of time and then stops, the body reacts to its absence. This is alcohol withdrawal, and it causes uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. All withdrawal symptoms – whether the psychological ones like anxiety, or the physical ones like the shakes – are caused by your body going into ‘fight or flight’ mode. If you think you’re dependent, you must seek medical help and talk to a health professional at your GP surgery about how to reduce your drinking. Severe symptoms can additionally include hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real),4 as well as seizures or delirium tremens (‘DTs’).