When stopping the use of alcohol, symptoms include physical and mental symptoms, including tremors, anxiety and insomnia, according to Drugs.com. About one in 20 people experience the most serious symptoms, known as delirium tremens, or DTs. These symptoms can lead to stoke, heart attack or death.
Alcohol has a slowing effect on the function of the brain, warns Drugs.com. With prolonged exposure, the brain slowly adjusts its chemistry to compensate for this sedating effect. In order to compensate, it produces more chemicals similar to adrenalin that speed up its reaction. When the drinker suddenly stops using alcohol, the brain continues to manufacturer these chemicals, and it becomes overstimulation. This overstimulation causes the most symptoms.
When withdrawing from alcohol, alcoholics may not experience all the symptoms, although withdrawal follows a similar pattern within everyone, indicates Drugs.com. Tremors usually begin about five to 10 hours after the last consumption of alcohol and peak within 24 to 48 hours. Hallucinations begin 12 to 24 hours after the last drink and continue for another two days. Delirium tremens commonly begin at the 24- to 48-hour point and continue another 24 to 72 hours. However, in some instances, they do not begin until a week after stopping alcohol use.
If withdrawal symptoms are severe, the safest place for the patient is in the hospital, advises Drugs.com. Hospital staff monitor the patient for safety. Medication is available to reduce withdrawal symptoms.