What is alcohol withdrawal?
It is a set of symptoms that people have
when they stop drinking after using alcohol
for a long time. In most cases, symptoms
occur in people who have been drinking
heavily for weeks or months and then all of
a sudden stop drinking.
When does it begin and how long does it
Alcohol withdrawal most often begins
within 12 to 72 hours after the last drink.
The symptoms will vary for each person.
The symptoms can range from mild to
severe. It can last from a few days to a few
What does it feel like?
The person may have these symptoms:
ξ feeling restless
ξ trouble sleeping
ξ trouble eating
ξ flushed face
ξ racing pulse
ξ high blood
The person may also have these severe
ξ confusion, hallucinate (unreal
sights, sounds, sensations)
ξ convulse or seizure
If a patient is in withdrawal, can it be
If it is identified in its early stages,
discomfort can be decreased. Nurses and
other staff watch for symptoms and can give
medicines to stop it from getting worse.
They will make sure the patient is safe.
How can family and friends help?
The person needs to feel safe and know he is
in a caring place. People can help by
reassuring and reorienting the patient. Let
the person know help is available.
The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7216.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 10/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5219