Everyone knows that drinking too much alcohol can kill you. Terrifyingly, alcohol withdrawal can also kill you. Needless to say, giving up alcohol is one of the hardest things a person can do. So, what are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawals? What do alcohol withdrawals do to your body? Sadly, it takes a toll on you in a very real, very physical way. It's not pretty: alcohol withdrawals can lead to headaches, paranoia, sleeplessness, and even death.
While it's a necessary part of recovery, getting on the wagon can have some very serious consequences. The difficulties have been well-documented by the medical community, but there's also a lot of information out there on how to safely transition to an alcohol-free lifestyle. And if you know someone who needs help, don't be afraid to reach out. Alcohol withdrawals may be intense, but they're far better than the alternative.
Withdrawal often comes with some understandable fears, like "What if I start drinking again?" or "Can I really function without booze?" However, there are deeper fears that can come with withdrawal, like fear that the world is ending, or that your life is in grave danger.
Many people going through withdrawal feel a sense of impending doom, which only grows with time. Others going through withdrawal are convinced that they are going to die, which, in their defense, is a possibility (though it's unlikely).
During the first 72 hours of withdrawal, your blood pressure will rise and dip randomly. This can lead to racing heartbeats, chest pain, and nose bleeds. You might even think that you're having a heart attack. Basically, this is all just your body's way of getting the excess alcohol out of your bloodstream as best it can.
The first six to 12 hours after you stop drinking, your stomach will probably betray you. You'll be dehydrated, since your body won't remember how to absorb fluids sans alcohol. This will lead to feelings of nausea, loss of appetite, and straight-up vomit. Lots of vomit. Luckily, this purge generally passes after the first day.
Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down your brain function, and makes it easier to sleep. If you drink all the time, your body starts to actually need the depressant to sleep at all. So, if you become dependent on alcohol and then stop drinking, it takes your body a while to readjust to healthy, normal levels. This can lead to insomnia that lasts for days or even weeks.