I went through alcoholism withdrawal. All alcoholics experience some form of alcoholic withdrawal symptoms, whether mild, moderate, or life-threatening.
As I considered the list of alcohol withdrawal symptoms below, it occurred to me that an alcoholic goes through “withdrawal” many times over before they ever get to recovery. Maybe this is why my alcohol withdrawal symptoms didn't seem so severe. I was used to these feelings every time I went several days without alcohol.
Those uncomfortable feelings listed in the Mild to Moderate category below are what kept me going back to the booze. The feelings and symptoms would go away with a few drinks, and the whole cycle of addiction would start all over again. It really is a dead end road that leads to nowhere.
Feeling jumpy and nervous
Shakiness or trembling
Anxiety and fear
Emotional volatility and moodiness
Headache, often severe and pulsating
Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or the face
Nausea and vomiting
Difficulty sleeping, insomnia
Rapid heart rate (palpitations)
Tremor of the hands
Involuntary, abnormal movements
DTs - delirium tremens (A state of confusion and visual hallucinations)
** You might have noticed in reading my website that, as a recovering alcoholic, I will rarely tell anyone what to do. (Alcoholics HATE that.) This is one of the exceptions. In my experience with other alcoholics, there are as many stories of effects of alcoholism, treatment, alcoholism withdrawal, and recovery as there are people experiencing them. God made us all different after all! Please, don't hesitate to seek medical and/or psychological help for this illness. You wouldn't go through cancer alone, would you??
When I got sober this last time, it was a normal Sunday afternoon (as normal as an afternoon can be for an alcoholic!) I was drinking beer - 16 ounce, tallboy Budweisers - and had just finished having the umpteenth argument with my (then) husband about the same old subject: His treatment of my children. As usual, he left the house in a fury. Another typical episode of this unresolved, and seemingly hopeless, issue between us.
I was sitting in a chair in the living room, crying, lonely, miserable, and desperate for some sort of resolution. I had been drinking, yes - but I wasn't all that drunk really. Like I say, a normal Sunday afternoon. I remember saying outloud, “God, Please Help Me.”
At that moment, I looked down at the beer I held in my hand and thought, “I have to quit drinking before I can solve any other problem in my life. That HAS to come first.” I got up and poured all the remaining beers down the kitchen sink. I haven't had a drink of alcohol since that day.
By the way, those thoughts. They were not entirely mine . . .
The next day, I went to work as usual and one of the first things I did was call for an appointment with a “shrink”. I HAD to talk to someone about my marital problems. I'd go crazy if I didn't. The way my insurance worked, I had to first call an 800 number to be referred. The lady on the other end asked the appropriate questions. Would my husband be joining me in the counseling? No, not likely. Was there any physical abuse going on? No - just emotional - a LOT of that. Was drug or alcohol abuse involved? And then I said it . . . Y E S. Okay, is it drugs or alcohol that your husband abuses?
“It's not my husband, it's me.”
There, it happened again! Not my words coming out of my mouth. I had no intention of telling this woman that I needed help with my drinking. But the words were spilling out. All of a sudden, we were having a discussion about my alcoholism and NOT my marital problems! She arranged an appointment with an Addiction Counselor who turned out to be wonderful.
She helped me through those early days, even though I absolutely refused to go to treatment. With her help, I resolved to go back to Alcoholics Anonymous. I knew that there was HOPE there - even though it had been five years since I was there last.
I agreed to see a medical doctor, another addiction specialist, who had no problem diagnosing Chronic Alcoholism. I have very foggy memories of that visit, but I'm sure his assessment of my alcoholism withdrawal symptoms was thorough. My physical health had not suffered much; my emotional health, however, was a much different story.
Back to alcoholism withdrawal . . .
It WILL happen, in some degree or another. I think, in my case, I was so led by God that I hardly realized those symptoms. But they were there. The shakiness, the terror, the depression, the foggy thinking, the bad dreams, and definitely the insomnia. I do remember that in the beginning days.
But once I got on the other side of those alcoholism withdrawal symptoms, it was SO worth it! My new-life-in-recovery is the best thing that ever happened to me!