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Readers Respond: What Were Your Toughest Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and How Did You Cope?

Responses: 12925


Updated April 10, 2014

Need to Stop

The worst part about alcohol withdrawal is that I ALWAYS wake up around 2 a.m. and can't get back to sleep. I shake, sweat, experience auditory and visual hallucinations, but the thing that drives me absolutely nuts is that I CAN'T SLEEP! I was doing great for several months, but all of a sudden I just cannot get sober or stay sober. I'm on the verge of dropping out of college and losing my full scholarship. I don't know how this happened. I just can't drink anymore; my withdrawal symptoms are so intense that I can barely think. The only thing my brain is saying is to go get more alcohol. I'm trying to taper but it's not working, I always just end up drunk again. I don't have health insurance, so I definitely can't afford another hospital stay. God please help me, I can't take another night staring at the clock for 12 hours. This has to stop, but I can't afford any sort of treatment. So I just write aimlessly on my keyboard in the hope that I don't end up at the liquor store.
—Guest So-Tired

My story to whomever it may help

I started drinking regularly 25 years ago. Heavily 13 years ago, going through a divorce, illness and financial ruin. In that 13 years, I have ran the gambit from months of teetotalling to months of extremely heavy drinking. Sometimes controlling my drinking for a period of time, as well. A year and a half ago, I was laying in bed, in excruciating pain, and was forced to go to the hospital. The pain in my stomach was so intense that I could no longer medicate it with alcohol, bc, Advil, Vicodin, nothing helped. I had severe Pancreatitis that resulted in multiple organ failure, and went out 2 days after admission. The Drs told my family to make my funeral arrangements. I spent 3 weeks in ICU with a ventilator tube, a stomach tube up my nose, a catheter, tube in my rectum, receiving dialysis for my failing kidneys, and two IV trees with 16 different fluids, vitamins and medications. Dr told me it was 100 to 1 that I survived. I walked out 42 days after walking in thanks to a great God.
—Guest Bill

It's tough

Hi all, Just wanted to share my story. I've been drinking heavily for the last 7 years. A typical week for me involved drinking 6 nights a week where each session spanned 8-12 hours. I'm in my early thirties, but alcohol already costs me my marriage and made my work near impossible. I also spent a lot of money and have consumed most of my savings because of of the drink. One month ago, I decided to call it quits as I needed to build up my savings, rest better and get over the physical pain and poor appearance. As I write this, I am very foggy headed and currently can't sleep more than 6 hours per night. It probably doesn't help that I drink lot's of coffee and smoke heavily - that addictive personality! I recall the first two weeks of my detox. I came down with strong flu like symptoms, threw up and had really bad diarrhea. Although the foggy head still persists, my body has undergone a transformation - now a lot tighter and look better. Almost free. Gotta stay the course
—Guest Former Alco

One more time

I am a 65 year old woman who has drank most of her life and has quit more times than I can tell..Lent is coming up and I will try one more time to quit for good.
—Guest J

8 weeks sober

Life is still as tough and i have had some major down moments in the last couple of weeks where things have seriously not gone my way but instead of flooring me and opening a bottle to cope, ignore, stick 2 fingers up at things, I have had to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions and wow! can you feel acute upset, embarrassment and disappointment without being buzzed all the time. This is fairly new territory for me and i feel like a child learning how to be. Some of the lapse of caretaking of my career have also become apparent, the one area i smugly thought i had protected - oh no! But somehow I am becoming more accepting of myself, not so deluded about my shape, age, abilities, nothing is being blown out of proportion. Disappointments bite but then i can deal with it and learn from it in the space of a couple of days - this too passes. Also people are now bored of asking me about my non-drinking. Except my boss who seems to be slowly choosing to do the same. Interesting times
—Guest Louise


Withdrawals are a devastating after effect of drinking the cold sweats, shaking, vomiting. I get were I am up for several days then start to here voices and when I close my eyes I see all kinds of crazy things cant sleep open My eyes and feel as tho I am in a whole different place very scary stuff been to the hospital several times it's time to quit with god on our side we can all kick the habit for good. Best Wishes.
—Guest Jone

It's hard

I'm on day 7 and have shortness of breath insomnia and get depressed. It sucks I'm hanging in there wish me luck guys as I have no one but myself and god.
—Guest Cesar

Symptoms Returning

Im on my eighth day, my withdrawals weren't as bad as I thought they would be, but now some are retuning or just arriving. I'm having hot flashes, headaches,and muscle weakness today. The past few days I seemed to have renewed energy, today absolutely none. Reading everyone's posts are getting me through and making me feel less alone. I'm wondering when the symptoms will be gone. I know the cravings will always be there. I also wonder if I did permanent damage? I can't see summer without a cocktail, or vacation, how will I ever make it through those? The only place I feel safe is at home. There is alcohol here but for some reason if it's not wine or vodka I'm not tempted, I have no idea why that is. I have a boyfriend that lives with me that is trying to support me but I was drunk since I met him and being sober I wish he wasn't here. I've really dug a deep hole here. Feeling very sad. :-(
—Guest SummerC

To: Susie

Yes Susie, Wow! It is great you feel much better after a short period of time of sobriety. It will get better, many more good news ahead. Our bodies and minds recover, we get stronger, healthier, happier, looking better, feeling like we are becoming a new person. Not to want to stop you in your enthusiasm because I know the feeling of feeling better, at last, just be aware that some days can be sometimes tough as cravings or feeling a bit low can happen. It is part of the journey, a wonderful journey to be free of the poison. I am happy for you. Keep posting, it is always reconforting for all to see "happy" posts, and know we all can do it. Yvan.
—Guest Yvan

To Andy

If you surf on the web, PAWS, "Post acute withdrawals symptoms", you will get a lot of informations about cravings, or symptoms of withdrawals that can crop up during sobriety. They go as quick as they come. They can last up to 2 years. It is part of the recovery as the mind and body adjust to a new equilibrium. Usually they don't last more than a day, even less. If your symptoms persist, it would be better to see your doctor. If you consider being an alcoholic for many years, 25 days sober is not a long period of time in your recovery. Stay strong and know it will pass. Best of luck in your recovery. Yvan.
—Guest Yvan


Such a great site. 11days sober. AA for me new sober friends. mood swings are tough but anxiety is lessening, last chance not failing, doing the suggested things finally and its working. shifted my own thought patterns and took back control mindfulness instead if mindless. I wish success to each and everyone who is on the recovery path
—Guest determination alco

Messed up yesterday and today.

Tapering isn't working, going cold the next day, or 5 days, and I'll just have to deal with the shakes, sweats, insomnia and so on. I hope it passes quickly. :(
—Guest Blue

Day 4

Day 4 of my 100th try. Withdrawals get worse every time. I have been hospitalized several times with extreme panic attacks, skyrocketing blood pressure and loss of breath. It is the worse feeling in the world especially when wife and family will not speak to you anymore. This site has helped me and I thank you all for your stories and advise. I am through the hardest of the withdrawals with the help of Ativan and now I need to use alley resources to stay sober and get my life back.
—Guest Shamrock

It's all about Me

Quality of life is key. For most of the folks posting here total abstinence is probably necessary. If you have headaches, shakes and are losing relationships related to alcohol and still drinking then a shrink is probably necessary along with quitting. Groups(like AA) can help with this obviously. Suzie, in my experience alcoholics are inherently selfish. Otherwise we wouldn't ignore how our drinking is affecting those we love. That said it is unrealistic to expect others to cowtow to our wishes and become teetotalers just because we can't handle it. Not everyone has the addiction gene and foisting abstinence on normal folks is unproductive. As designated driver I top off drinks, buy rounds and later hold heads over porcelain thrones as needed. There is something empowering about being the only sober person in the room sometimes. I know why I drink. I know what it does to me. I know that I will drink again. Not drinking NOW is my choice for my own reasons. Same when I start back.
—Guest Don

Still Sober-12 days

I took my blood labs yesterday to make sure everything is okay. Today I am going to try not taking any advil to see if the ongoing migraine has disappeared. My nausea is now less and I am regaining my appetite. The brain fog is lifting and I am starting to feel better every morning. My Mom commented on how animated and cheerful I am compared to before. My personality and how I treat people is changing drastically. All I can say is WOW!
—Guest Suzie

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What Were Your Toughest Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and How Did You Cope?

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