Alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety or jumpiness
  • feeling low or depressed
  • shakiness or trembling
  • irritability
  • sweating
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • headaches
  • difficulty sleeping

Not everyone who stops drinking will get physical withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms are more common if you have been a heavy drinker.

How long withdrawal symptoms last

Withdrawal symptoms start around 8 hours after the last alcoholic drink, and then may intensify over the next 24-48 hours.

If you are not dependent, symptoms tend to ease after 24 hours.

If you are dependent, symptoms can become more severe and may last for several days. Serious symptoms such as seizures may happen within 24-48 hours after the last alcoholic drink.

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP if:

  • you have any withdrawal symptoms when you stop using alcohol or drugs

Severe cases of alcohol withdrawal

In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can also cause:

  • agitation
  • confusion
  • disorientation
  • seizures
  • fever
  • agitation
  • hallucinations

You can still be dependent on alcohol, even if you do not get physical withdrawal symptoms.

Delerium Tremens

Delerium Tremens (DT) is a life-threatening form of severe withdrawal.

Symptoms include;

  • disorientation
  • agitation
  • shaking
  • increased heart and respiratory rate
  • fever
  • visual and auditory hallucinations

DT is more common in people with alcohol dependence. The risk of DT is higher in people who have seizures or have had DTs before.

Information:

If you are worried about your alcohol use, take our alcohol test to find out what type of drinker you are.

Page last reviewed: 23 September 2022
Next review due: 23 September 2025