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How to Successfully Manage Alcohol Withdrawal

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Withdrawal from alcohol is a serious condition, and as such you need to think carefully on how to proceed if this happens to you.

managing alcohol withdrawal

General Overview

Alcohol withdrawal is a serious condition that occurs after you drink alcohol to a strong degree for a period of time. If you stop or even just start drinking a lot less, you can get withdrawal. How bad this is will obviously depend on the situation.

Drinking in moderation means that you should avoid withdrawal. The condition happens specifically when your body gets used to it due to overdrinking. This is because Alcohol is a depressant. It makes your brain move slower, slows down nerve reactions, and so on. Your nervous system actually just gets used to this after a while and makes the adjustment to speed everything up and keep you more alert in order to make everything run normally.

If you suddenly stop drinking alcohol, this sudden shift means you’re going to instantly get nervous because the alcohol isn’t there to maintain the balance your body now depends on.


Withdrawal can cause a number of different symptoms, starting a general feeling of anxiety. Your hands might shake, you might throw up or start sweating. You could feel waves of nausea or headaches. If it’s bad enough, it’s even possible to go into a seizure or hallucinate as your nervous system races on ahead without the usual alcohol to slow it down.

Managing Symptoms with Quiet

One of the first things you can do, especially if it’s milder, is just going somewhere that’s quieter and where you feel safe. Your nervous system is out of control, so you have to remove as much stimulus as you can from the equation. The less you have to process, the less you’re going to feel anxiety. So, if you go to a quiet room that’s either dark or has mild lighting sources, this should help.

Avoid talking to people if you can, avoid doing anything overly stimulating for a while. In time, the symptoms should subside. This will at least help with the problem for the short term.

Drink a Lot of Water

Drinking water will help flush your system, and it will also help manage problems from alcohol since some of this happens because of dehydration. Drinking water or other fluids could help with the symptoms for sure, though it is no absolute guarantee, of course. Some experts say that what you want the most is electrolytes.

Eat Something Substantial

Another effective thing that you can do is eat something healthy and substantial. Your body needs nutrients in order to function correctly, and this includes helping to lessen the effects of withdrawal. If you don’t eat, you could just make the situation worse in general.


You can also try medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Some people recommend benzodiazepines to handle the anxiety, or if you have trouble sleeping, which is another possible symptom for this problem. If the symptoms are bad enough, you can get medication to control seizures, or even use antipsychotic drugs if your doctor recommends it.

Talk to Friends

After your past the worst of the symptoms, it can help to talk to friends so they can aid you in the detox process. Support will make all of it easier. This is especially the case in the first week that you are trying to detox from alcohol. The danger is that you’ll start drinking again because withdrawal is so bad. Having a support network is key to avoiding this outcome.

Be Calm During Cravings

You need to just ride the wave when the cravings happen. The cravings are like waves on the ocean, and there’s not much you can do about them except just let them happen and recognize that eventually the feeling will subside and you’ll be OK again. Another wave may come after though, so enjoy the high before the next wave comes and then just ride it out again. The pain and nervousness you feel are temporary, that’s the main key to focus on while it’s all happening.

Try Cold Showers

This can help ground you back in your body, instead of focusing only on the withdrawal symptoms. It can help to do this right at the height of a craving wave so that you don’t get stuck or tempted to break your detox plans. This can work with many different approaches, such as clutching a piece of ice wrapped in a plastic bag, or any strong sensation that takes you away from what’s happening in your head. Distraction is often an effective strategy for this kind of thing.