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Can You Die from Alcohol Withdrawal?

Anyone who has ever drunk a little too much has experienced alcohol withdrawal. They may have had a hangover with a headache and felt nauseated. For other people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), alcohol withdrawal can be more intense and can cause death. It can even be life-threatening in some instances. So, it is understandable that someone with AUD wanting to start medical detox may wonder if someone can die from alcohol withdrawal.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal? 

Alcohol withdrawal is a set of physical and psychological symptoms that can occur when someone abruptly stops drinking alcohol after consuming it regularly. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the individual’s level of dependence.

How Soon Does Alcohol Withdrawal Begin?

The onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically begins within eight hours after the last drink and can peak at 24 to 72 hours. Any severity of withdrawal may vary depending on how much and how often a person has been drinking, as well as other factors such as age, gender, and medical history.

What Are Common Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are: 

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Irritability/agitation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion 
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Deadly?

Yes, in extreme cases, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Delirium tremens (DTs) is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause confusion, fever, hallucinations, and seizures. Additionally, DTs can lead to coma or death if not treated properly. Therefore, it is essential to seek professional medical help for anyone experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal as soon as possible.

How Common Are DTs?

DTs are a rare but potentially fatal complication of alcohol withdrawal. It occurs in people who have been drinking heavily for an extended period and suddenly stop or significantly reduce their alcohol intake. The exact incidence of DTs is unknown, but it has been estimated to occur in 3 to 5% of individuals with severe alcohol dependence.

Can Binge Drinkers Experience DTs?

Yes, binge drinkers can experience delirium tremens (DTs). Binge drinking is defined as consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period and can lead to dependence. People who are dependent on or addicted to alcohol are at higher risk for developing DTs when they abruptly stop or reduce their intake.

What Does Alcohol Detox Involve?

Alcohol detox typically involves a supervised withdrawal period in which the individual is monitored for any potential medical complications. Depending on the severity of dependence, medications may be used to help ease alcohol cravings and reduce symptoms such as anxiety or insomnia. After detox is complete, other forms of treatment, such as counseling and support groups, may also be recommended to help people stay sober long-term.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline for alcohol withdrawal can vary depending on the individual and their level of dependence but typically lasts between five days to a week. It usually begins within eight hours after the last drink and continues to worsen over the first 24 to 72 hours.

Symptoms may gradually improve over several days as they reach a peak at this time before finally subsiding:

  • Eight hours after the last drink: Symptoms may begin to appear, such as sweating, anxiety, and insomnia. 
  • 24 to 72 hours after the last drink: Symptoms typically reach a peak at this time with increased intensity of physical and psychological symptoms such as tremors, nausea, vomiting, and confusion (in severe cases). 
  • Days three to five: Symptoms gradually improve over several days but may still be present in milder forms.
  • Day seven: Most withdrawal symptoms should have subsided by this point, but some mild symptoms may persist for up to two weeks or longer in certain individuals.

After the eighth day, some people can experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), a condition that can occur after alcohol use has stopped. It is characterized by various physical, psychological, and cognitive symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. PAWS may last for several weeks or months but typically subsides over time with proper treatment and support.

Benefits of Alcohol Detox at a Medical Detox Center

The benefits of alcohol detox at a medical detox center include:

  • Medical supervision to monitor and manage any potential complications that may arise during withdrawal. 
  • Medications to help alleviate cravings, anxiety, and other symptoms associated with withdrawal. 
  • Nutritional support to help the body heal from the effects of alcohol abuse. 
  • A safe and comfortable environment for individuals who are recovering from alcoholism or addiction in general.

Does Health Insurance Cover Alcohol Detox?

Yes, in most cases, health insurance will cover the cost of alcohol detox. Depending on someone’s plan type and coverage, it may be possible to receive some or all of the costs associated with this treatment. It is important to check the specific policy to determine the benefits they are eligible for or have the medical detox center verify coverage.

Get Alcohol Detox at our Medical Detox Center in Nashville, TN

Detox Nashville in Tennessee is here to help you take the first steps to recovery with our customizable alcohol detox programs at our luxury medical detox center. We provide a safe, supportive, healing, and caring environment for you to focus on detox.

To verify your insurance coverage or to start your alcohol detox, contact us today.

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