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Alcohol Withdrawal

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Alcohol withdrawal is a group of symptoms that occur when you drink alcohol daily and suddenly stop. It can begin within 5 hours of your last drink and get 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 your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You have sudden chest pain or trouble breathing.
  • You pass out or think you had a seizure.
  • You feel like you want to harm yourself or others.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your breathing or heartbeat is faster than usual.
  • 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.
  • 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 (vitamin B1) may be recommended.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him of her 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 or she should also watch your symptoms and know what to do if your symptoms get worse.

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
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Web Address: http://www.samhsa.gov

Follow up with your healthcare provider within 1 day:

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

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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.

Learn more about Alcohol Withdrawal (Aftercare Instructions)

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Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.