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What is the duration of alcohol withdrawal?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol withdrawal usually begins about eight hours after the person's last drink, typically peaks between 24 and 48 hours and may last for weeks, according to MedlinePlus. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may not occur for days following the last drink.

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Full Answer

Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue and shakiness, explains MedlinePlus. Mood swings, not thinking clearly and nightmares may also occur. Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens, include fever, agitation, seizures, hallucinations and severe confusion. There is also a chance of death if a person experiences delirium tremens.

There are two treatment methods for alcohol withdrawals, inpatient and outpatient, and the recommended method depends on the severity of the symptoms, states MedlinePlus. Those who have moderate or severe symptoms may need medical assistance and treatment that includes monitoring of vital signs, intravenous medication and fluids and sedation. For those who have mild to moderate symptoms with alcohol withdrawal, treatment includes sedative drugs, blood work, counseling and treatment for medical problems resulting from alcohol use.

Most people who go through alcohol withdrawal recover fully, but recovery comes down to the severity of the symptoms and damage to the body, notes MedlinePlus. Recovery is also dependent on whether or not a person can stop alcohol use. Doctors recommend reducing or avoiding alcohol for patients who experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

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