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

Responses: 7893


Updated September 19, 2014

Saturday day 6

Had the Hot Sweats last night; 3 Hallucinations, Saw a guy fishing in the back yard. It turned out to be the fire pit. I saw a lightning bolt hit beside me. It was just a light standard. The third was the worst, I was in bed, and I saw this dark black, 7 foot figure walking across the room. I was not that scared, in that the dog was in the bed with me , and if it had been a real person, she would have ripped his face off. I woke up Saturday morning with a little bit of chest stiffness, but I have energy. I want to get out and do stuff. Yay

Trying to Taper also

Last few days tried to go cold. Symptoms were bad. Bile vomiting in the morning (and yes it can make you feel better... but who wants to start their day with that?). Shaking etc. Was at work and hand shaking so bad had to go to the liquor store at lunch. Duh? Then my car died on the way home, a tow truck and my husband to pick me up had to "stash" my half bottle of vodka in the ditch. All I could think about today was, I wonder if it still there? Tried to just start the day clean. But was shaking so bad. I have Ativin and vitamins, and husband is trying to force oatmeal into me. It's my birthday, so I took a few hoots to just feel "normal" since I don't have my car to get to the store. So, oatmeal it is. Get into the garden, and try one more time. Hard when you can't even hold your coffee cup straight. Hope tapering works.
—Guest insomnia62

5 days and counting

I pounded a 26 of vodka back on Friday. Saturday the same. Sunday a bit less. Monday I decided to dry out. I lasted until 10 PM before bed, could not sleep. Had a shot of vodka, a shot of whiskey, then I was able to sleep. I woke up with some shakes and tightness in the chest on Tuesday. I took a single shot of Whiskey and went to work. At noon I went to an AA meeting for the first time I sat in the back unannounced. In the afternoon I had heart palpitations. Hot and cold sweats, anxiety. Wed AM (dry now) in the early morning, lots of cold sweats. Wednesday during the day the same, felt like crap, lots of cold and hot flashes. Went to the AA meeting for real and introduced myself. Thursday night , more cold sweats. The sweat saturated the covers, and had a musty smell. (Detox ?) Friday went well, a lot less symptoms. Friday night (still dry, but I feel like I have had a few drinks). That is weird. We will see how it goes tonight.
—Guest XB12X

I'm hangin in there

Well I can say this is the second time detoxifying myself. It isn't as hard as the first few months sober. The major withdrawals subsided and I feel as if I am almost done with them. But I still have a ways to go. I guess I just have to keep going down the sober road! Wish me luck for I will do the same!
—Guest +++gigglybrit***

70 Days of gratitude

I first posted at 37 days. Have been inspired and encouraged by fellow posters on this site. I am so thankful for this forum and for each and every day of sobriety. Am taking better care of myself than I ever have and reaping the benefits. I read a book called "Seven Weeks to Sobriety" and got clued into how important it is to control your blood sugar levels after you stop drinking. I try to eat something healthy with a low glycemic index every 2-3 hours. It really does help with cravings and mood swings and I believe this is helping me with my journey. Also using yoga and meditation to deal with anxiety. God bless you all. Hang in there and take care of the whole person: mind, body and spirit in recovery.
—Guest lilmama


I posted earlier tonight (100 days) but didn't really describe my symptoms. Shakes which became noticeable at work, insomnia although I never was a great sleeper, dry vomiting (which seemed to give me some relief) so sadly forced myself to do it every morning. Couldn't eat even if hungry cause I couldn't swallow, psoriasis, hearing imaginary radio in the night although no visual hallucinations, itches. Worst of all was loss of balance which also lasted longest even after detox (couldn't walk down stairs, or off curbs as others have posted. 3 detoxes all started with Librium which got me over the shakes and eating problems. Now eat properly and take B vitamins especially Thiamine. Only lasting physical symptom is feet cramps which may eventually go away. Mentally much more alert. Every time I think of a drink (which is getting less and less) I think of withdrawal - no contest. I wish I'd seen this site 2 years ago. Good luck all.

100 Days!

Today is my 100th day sober and I feel great and not a little proud! I've drank most of my life since about 16 and it wasn't really a problem until a few (5 maybe) years ago. High pressure job, a couple of life changing decisions which I guess I wasn't ready for. Started drinking at home after the "after work" beers, mostly wine, maybe 2 bottles a night. Eventually got dependent and drank before work, sneaked some at lunch then home again. Been to rehab twice since, first time worked fine for 10 weeks then felt great and went to a party, felt fine the next day but that was me started again. Downhill again but quicker this time, back to rehab for relapse treatment. Not so enjoyable this time first day out box of wine, DUI. Couple of weeks later seizure rushed to A&E. In for 10 days never touched since. Have had all the symptoms except hallucinations. Wished I could die. Worst was dizziness, couldn't walk. It does get better - still getting better. Stick in, if I can you can.

To: Roger

I'd advise to go see your doctor. I was very reluctant to tell him how much I consumed. When I did, he told me exactly what I needed to do without judgement. Recommended over the counter vitamins (B1), drink a lot of water and juices, and he prescribed a sedative to help with heart rate and anxiety. I'm on day 5 feeling no symptoms other than cravings around the hour I usually had my 1st drink. Whatever's lingering as a side effect is more than countered by the empowered feeling of hitting the pillow sober. Keep looking ahead and let your doctor ease the blow. We're all different and after 5 days I haven't proven a thing, just letting you know it really helped.

I quit drinking Monday

I have been drinking since I was 20. I am 46 now and totally stressed. My husband lost his job and we are now losing our house. The last five years have I have been drinking two bottles of wine a night. Last Sunday I decided it was time to quit. I am depressed and alcohol was making it worse. I felt unhealthy every morning when I woke up, so I made my mind up to quit. I Found on Tuesday via a friend that going cold turkey is dangerous, but my mind was made up. Monday night I was hearing Irish music, seeing faces on my blinds, and itching. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday still itching and no sleep at all. Taking one Xanex vitamins, milk thistle (have been taken for years) and drinking 0 calorie vitamin water. My question is how long am I going to be awake? Seriously, I need sleep! I have not sought medical attention yet. My insurance pays 100% for mental health, but the counselors on the approved list are not returning my phone calls. What happened to customer service?

Day 5

Well, I did hit the liquor store on the way home from work last Saturday, but I got my last pint and downed it in 45 minutes. I was so disoriented, and the shakes went on for days, but I think I'm finally out of it, or getting close, anyway. Still having some sleep trouble, and still occasional shakes, but I feel much better and really hope I haven't destroyed myself entirely. I don't like AA, I find it depressing, so I'm going it alone, except for the grace of God. It takes quite a while for our bodies to heal. I'm feeling a little better about it, and don't want to go back to that anymore. I can't remember an occasion where I was sober! Now I have to figure out how to be around all those people who smelled it all over me and pretended not to; makes me want to crawl in a hole sometimes. Keep hoping and trying, folks. The worst thing any of us can do is give up.
—Guest sammyjane

Made it to day 5!

It is the morning of day 5 and I am feeling pretty good. Sleep is much better with the help of melatonin about 2 hours before bed. My appetite is slowly coming back, I am craving sweets more than anything. Sweating is minimal now, and shakes are completely gone. I am still struggling with the cravings though, especially in the early evening when it used to be "cocktail hour." I am trying to keep focused, my kids are going to be gone tomorrow night and I am afraid the boredom and alone time may make me slip. Best thing for me to do is leave the house and do something productive alone - treat myself to dinner and a movie maybe. I have made it this far, and I don't want to ever go back to how I felt the first few days of withdrawal. Thank you everyone for your support - God Bless!
—Guest hockeymeansparty


Hello friend, it's 30 days now without any desire to drink. How cool is that. Thanks for the heads up concerning the second withdrawl. Knowing it's a possibility will keep me disciplined and unafraid.
—Guest Kid-o

To: Roger

Roger, I hope you're still hanging in there. If you don't know how to access a rehab center, try the emergency room -- especially if you are despondent. Or if you can try tapering off (which is what I'm doing) you have to set a schedule for yourself, stick to it, reduce amount slowly each day to avoid withdrawal, and fill your time with things you enjoy, or used to enjoy. I'm gardening, reading page turners, watching great old movies, cooking fancy meals, walking my dog, trying to remember what I loved to do as a child. Try writing your thoughts down each morning and evening (what a difference night and day makes). Please get emergency help if you are in danger. We all care.
—Guest Merritt25


I have been a drinker for a few years. I lost my job four months ago and my drinking has increased to 2 or 3 bottles of wine per day. If I try to quit I experience involuntary muscle movements; not quite "the shakes" as I've read about but my muscles jerk uncontrollably. I'm scared. Anyone have any advice or suggestions?
—Guest 25andwanttoquit

Stopped twice and slipped again

I have been an alcoholic for 20 years being a controlled drinker. It never interfered with my job and I have never been in trouble this the law. Well I was laid off last November and have not found a job as of yet. First time in my in my life without a job. I found myself drinking more and more and found myself waking up in the morning and drinking. I have tried twice to go cold turkey. The withdrawals were unbearable. You name it and I had every symptom there is, almost called Emergency because my heart was pounding so hard that my chest started having pains but it went away. Well today is the eve of my 56th birthday and I am alone so I went out and bought again after not having a drink in 4 days. They say three is a charm. This time it is either going to kill me or I am going to have to convince myself to seek profession medical help.
—Guest Thomas
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