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How are withdrawal symptoms of alcohol treated ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 336 Questions
Hi. I have been drinking every evening for about 2 months straight. I've always been a big drinker, but more on weekends. When I try to stop I feel very physically poor: Shaking, palpatations, jerky movements and motor skill problems. Sweats at night, can't sleep. So I end up having drinks to feel better. Right now I feel horrible. I just read I could have serious problems if I just stop completely. And the way I feel, I believe it. This isn't just a hangover. I think I am dependent on the alcohol. Should I try to wean off of it gradually? I am 37, male. I want to quit this addiction. But I don't want to die while trying!
Posted Sun, 6 May 2012 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 50 minutes later

Thanks for your query

Your symptoms described appear to be like withdrawal symptoms of alcohol.

Being used to drinking alcohol for longer duration can cause dependency in the individual, due to which the body feels a need of alcohol to be in the system for its normal functioning. Hence when you stop abruptly the body senses the lack of alcohol and develops symptoms.

The decision to come out of the habit of drinking is very good.

Stopping drinking is not a matter of willpower. Alcoholism is a disease. Drinking alcoholically is but a symptom of a deeper underlying problem that an alcoholic must face up to in order to recover. Without learning what that problem is, trying to stay away from a drink is known as “white knuckle sobriety”. It isn’t very long before the alcoholic has to drink again.

FOR THE ALCOHOLIC THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CUTTING DOWN, binge or periodic drinking, drinking only on weekends, changing what they drink, smoking pot or taking other mind altering drugs or even switching to “near beer” with 0.05% alcohol. For the alcoholic nothing will work short of total and complete abstinence from any thing that contains alcohol or other mind-altering substances (drugs).

You will definitely need medical assistance to get rid of the habit. Trying to wean it out slowly does not help and in the long term may not be productive.

You might consult a deaddiction centre - where under medical supervision you can undergo a detoxification program as well as Behavior counselling.

Detoxification programmes help a person who is dependent on alcohol to cease use in a way that minimizes the symptoms of withdrawal and the risk of complications, sometimes using a prescribed medication.

Counselling and psychotherapy form integral parts of most forms of treatment. They aim at initiating and maintaining behavioural and lifestyle changes, and help to control urges to use alcohol.
It uses a variety of methodologies and techniques, including motivational interventions, cognitive-behavioral approaches (social skills training, stress management, anger management), relapse prevention, provision of incentives, community reinforcement therapies

I hope this helps

In case any more doubts, I am available for the follow ups.


Dr Anvekar.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How are withdrawal symptoms of alcohol treated ? 23 hours later
What type of things do doctors prescribe to help with the symptoms and what do they do? I want to stop completely but I don;t think I can without detox and support.
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 9 hours later
Hello ,
Thanks for the follow up.

The alcohol detoxification process can be very painful on an emotional and a physical level. In some extreme cases, these symptoms can actually be fatal. Medications can be used in order to lessen the severity of these symptoms.

Some of the medications used with alcohol detoxification include :-

Benzodiazepines - the most commonly used group of drugs for assisting with alcohol detoxification. These drugs are also thought of as mild tranquilizers and bring short-term relief from problems such as insomnia and anxiety. The drugs in this family also have an anticonvulsant and help relax the muscles. Long-lasting benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam and diazepam, are the most popular drugs from this family used with alcohol detoxification.

Some alcohol detoxification facilities also utilize barbiturates to help alcoholics cope with symptoms of withdrawal. This group of drugs works on the central nervous system, acting as a depressant. For this reason, barbiturates act as a mild sedative. Like benzodiazepines, barbiturates also have an anticonvulsant effect.

In order to truly recover from the addiction, you must also undergo psychological treatment and work on understanding the reason the addiction developed in the first place. By working on the psychological reasons for the addiction, you can create a plan for better coping with stress and can improve his or her refusal skills.

If you only go through detoxification without also undergoing counseling and psychological care, the chances for relapsing are high.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, you may be able to undergo this aspect of rehabilitation in on an outpatient basis.

If you have a severe problem or do not have a solid network of help, the rehab may need to take place on an inpatient basis.

In case you feel that you do not need such detox programs and have a mild problem, you can try by yourself and set a timeline and slowly reduce the intake of alcohol, and then stop finally one fine day.

In case, the self help does not help you to kick the habit, you may choose to seek appropriate medical help for the detoxification program.

I hope this helps to clear your doubts.


Dr Anvekar.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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