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10 Ways to Reduce Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Woman drinking alcohol in the kitchen suffering from addiction

Excessive alcohol consumption can affect your health and safety. If you’re unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, it’s considered an addiction. 

Addiction can change the brain and how you think, affecting not only yourself, but your family and friends around you. It can be challenging to come to terms with, but it’s important to know that addiction can be treated through support and recovery programs

When recovering from alcohol addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be tough to push through. Remember that you’re not alone in this journey, and there are helpful ways to reduce the severity of your symptoms.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol impacts the central nervous system. Over time, excessive drinking can cause your body to rely on alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal occurs after significantly reducing your alcohol intake or stopping drinking altogether.

You can experience symptoms from mild to severe that are both physical and emotional. Symptoms may appear in the first 6 hours of stopping your alcohol intake, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive sweating
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms can persist, or new ones may arise in the following 2–3 days, including:

  • Extreme agitation or confusion
  • Fever
  • Seizure
  • Hallucinations
  • Heavy breathing

10 Ways to Combat Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be tough to deal with, but it’s important to know you’re not alone in the recovery process. Reaching out to loved ones, finding a support program, and practicing a healthier lifestyle are just a few ways you can reduce the severity of your symptoms. 

1: Stay Hydrated

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause dehydration. Drinking lots of fluids can keep you hydrated, especially if other symptoms you’re experiencing are nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. Drinking sports drinks with electrolytes is also beneficial to help regulate your pH levels, control your fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, and prevent your muscles from spasming.

2: Eat Nutritious Meals

Alcohol can deplete your body of essential nutrients and stop your liver from releasing glucose into your blood. Eating well-rounded meals full of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients can help your body function and balance your blood sugar.

3: Get Enough Sleep

Healthy sleep habits can help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms in more ways than just making sure you’re well-rested. Good sleep can create sharper brain function, boost mood, promote a healthier heart, and steady blood sugar levels. 

When you’re well-rested, you can think clearly about your recovery. A healthier heart and stable blood sugar can help combat symptoms such as increased heart rate and high blood pressure. 

4: Exercise Regularly

Exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins that can help combat stress and anxiety, not to mention the physical health benefits. Exercising is also a way to boost confidence which can help you through your recovery journey. Activities don’t always have to be rigorous. Going for a walk or completing simple movements can benefit your mind and body.

5: Communicate with a Support Person

Having a trusted source of support can help you get through the challenging times of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Talking through what you’re experiencing can prevent emotions from bottling up inside. Speaking with a therapist can help you learn healthy coping mechanisms for what you’re going through.

It can also be comforting to remember you’re not alone. Many people have gone through withdrawal, and you’re a strong part of the community.

6: Take Part in a Program

A recovery program offers structure and support. Different programs provide you with tips on getting through the difficult times while surrounded by others committed to sobriety. Taking part in a detox or 12-step program can address the individual issues and areas for growth to help you live a healthier lifestyle.

7: Take a Cold Shower

There’s no doubt a cold shower will awaken your senses, but it also releases endorphins and improves circulation. Cold water can also help alleviate symptoms such as excessive sweating or increased body temperature. Deep breathing can help with the initial discomfort.

8: Meditate

Meditation is a way to help you focus and become more mindful of your environment. Forms of meditation can include prayer, listening to music, or practicing breathing techniques. It helps relax your body when anxiety is trying to take over, and you can begin to focus on what matters in that moment.

9: Discover a Hobby

When you stop drinking, you may notice you have more free time and might need to distract yourself from the cravings. To take your mind off things, picking up an old hobby or trying something new can get you to focus your attention on something other than the withdrawal symptoms. A hobby can be a productive and fulfilling way to spend your time.

10: Medical Intervention

Delirium Tremens (DT) is a severe type of alcohol withdrawal. DT requires immediate medical attention because it can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and death. DT symptoms typically arise 2–3 days after your last drink.

Happy women walking in the street with coffee in hand

The Support You Need, When You Need It

The journey to recovery is a battle that you don’t have to fight alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction or alcohol withdrawal symptoms, please get in touch with the team at Calgary Dream Centre.

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  • Written by Jim Moore

    CEO/Executive Director, Jim Moore is a founding member of the Calgary Dream Centre. His passion and drive to see lives changed has guided the organization to where it is today. Jim entered the non-profit world after many years of leadership in business, banking, real-estate, and church ministry. During that time he served on a number of boards and his career moved him across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto, and back to Calgary, where he helped found the Calgary Dream Centre. He was president of the Calgary Real Estate Board CREB, and past president of Canada Trust Real Estate Division Canada.

    More Articles by Jim Moore

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    The Calgary Dream Centre acknowledges with humble gratitude that our organization is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Iyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta District 6, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.