Withdrawal is an uncomfortable physical or mental change that
happens when the body is deprived of alcohol or drugs that it is accustomed to
getting. The symptoms can last a few days and may include nausea or vomiting,
sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
Withdrawal symptoms only occur if a person has regular, heavy use
of a drug or alcohol.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin from 4 to 12 hours after a
person cuts down on or stops drinking or can begin up to several days after the last
drink. In rare cases, severe symptoms of
withdrawal (called delirium tremens, or DTs) can occur. Symptoms of delirium
tremens may include seeing or hearing things that are not there
(hallucinations), confusion and irritability, severe trembling, and seizures.
In rare cases, delirium tremens can lead to death if it is not treated.
How bad withdrawal symptoms are depends on two things:
How often the person drank alcohol and for what length of time
How much alcohol the person drank each day
Symptoms of withdrawal from drugs (illegal drugs or prescription
medicines) vary depending on the drug. Common withdrawal symptoms include
nausea, vomiting, belly pain, and seizures.
Treatment for withdrawal from alcohol or drugs may require medical care.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.