Skip to Content

Alcohol Withdrawal

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Alcohol withdrawal is a group of symptoms that occur when you drink alcohol daily and suddenly stop drinking. It can begin within 5 hours of your last drink and gets worse over 2 to 3 days. Withdrawal may also happen if you suddenly reduce the amount of alcohol that you normally drink.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel like you want to harm yourself or others.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.

  • Your breathing or heartbeat is faster than usual.

  • You pass out or think you had a seizure.

  • You are confused, hallucinating, or extremely agitated.

  • You cannot stop vomiting, or you vomit blood.

  • You are shaking and it does not get better after you take your medicine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You keep drinking to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

  • You need help to stop drinking alcohol.

  • You have trouble with work, relationships, or school because you drink too much alcohol.

  • You get into fights because of alcohol.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

  • Medicines may be given to calm you and help manage your symptoms. Vitamin supplements, such as thiamine, may be recommended because high alcohol intake can keep your body from absorbing enough vitamins from food.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Have someone stay with you during withdrawal:

This person should help you take your medicine and keep you in a calm, quiet environment. He should also watch your symptoms and know what to do if your symptoms get worse.

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 1 day:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Learn to stop drinking alcohol safely:

Work with your healthcare provider to develop a plan for you to stop drinking safely. A sudden stop or change can be life-threatening.

For support and more information:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
    Web Address: http://www.aa.org

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Hide