Each person struggling with recovery will have his or her own journey to recovery. Recuperation depends on the individual, the amount of alcohol used, and how long the individual was abusing alcohol. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can affect individuals through the first couple years of recovery. It is important to understand each person has a different rate of recovery, and those who are going through PAWS will need continued work to relieve their symptoms through a long-term program.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Excessive drinking alters the brain’s chemicals, which causes the brain to modify its neurotransmitter activity by enhancing GABA and decreasing glutamate. This process creates in the individual a relaxed and happier feeling while drinking alcohol. This can turn into alcohol dependence if the individual continues to drink excessively, and the brain will suppress GABA and increase glutamate. When this happens, the body will need higher levels of alcohol to sustain the effect, which will lead to addiction.
There are three stages of alcohol withdrawal, beginning with mild symptoms to moderate symptoms to the most severe symptoms known as Delirium Tremens (DTs).
Mild, Moderate, And Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Mild withdrawal symptoms may occur within the first six to 24 hours after one’s last drink. These symptoms include intense cravings, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. Within 24 to 48 hours, symptoms may progress to irregular heartbeat, seizures, confusion and some hallucinations, and a higher body temperature. The most intense symptoms typically happen within 48 to 96 hours and may include severe itchiness; impulsive and dangerous behaviors; depression and anxiety; seizures with tremors; disorientation; and delirium.
These symptoms will vary from person to person depending on his or her age, how long the individual abused alcohol, and how much alcohol was consumed before beginning the detox. Not everyone will feel all these symptoms, but most people will have intense alcohol cravings at some point during the detox.