Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: Symptoms, Dependency And Treatment

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

You might be more dependent upon alcohol than you might think. For most people, this is not an emergency. A mild dependency forms during a time of stress, the time of stress ends, they go back to normal. The problem really starts when your dependency deepens.

But how do you know the difference between a shallow dependency and a deep dependency? There are a few telltale signs. This is generally known, but rarely understood: Alcoholism is a disease. And like any disease, it has symptoms. 

Today, we are going to go over the symptoms of alcohol dependency and withdrawal. You really can’t talk about one without talking about the other, as they are mirrors of each other. If you can spot it early, then you might be able to avoid falling into a downward spiral. You can also spot it in other people. The most important thing we will talk about is alcoholism treatments.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Dependency?

It is east to imagine that alcoholism boils down to a person craving a drink. And while that is definitely a component of it, there is a bit more at work here. You see, alcohol acts on a few different parts of the body. The easiest way to think of it is in three parts.

The Body

The first part is how alcohol acts upon the gut. Not just the stomach, but the liver and kidneys. The liver processes alcohol while the kidneys cleanse the body of waste. The effort of doing these processes slows the body down. But at the same time, the body gets used to them.

As a result, lethargy and abdominal discomfort will be common symptoms of alcohol. Of course, these are common symptoms for other ailments. The easiest way to tell if they are alcohol related is if they go away after drinking or go away after not drinking for a long time.

The Mind

The second part is how alcohol effects the mind. More precisely, alcohol slows down the whole nervous system. Signals are sent slower and less accurately. This is where the “stress relief” feeling of alcohol comes from, as suddenly stress signals can’t transmit as fast or as hard.

As a result, people who drink to alleviate stress will find themselves spiraling into alcoholism quickly. Drinking relieves stress, but then the stress comes back stronger after they sober up. They drink even more to deal with the larger stress, and the cycle continues.

The Personality

The last part is how alcohol effects the personality. Many people report that as their loved ones become more and more dependent on alcohol, they become “different people”. This usually means that they become more irritable and prone to impulsive decision-making.

This is actually physically related to the effect alcohol has on the mind, but we are separating it out because it is expressed in such a different way. 

How Dependency Changes a Person

So, we now understand the three aspects of a person that are changed by dependency. But how does this impact their life? We need to understand that as well so that we are not viewing these symptoms in a vacuum, as alcoholism deprives a person of as much without as within.

Alcoholics Lose Their Appetite and Energy

The negative effect that alcohol has on the body results in alcoholics being tired all the time and unable to digest food properly. As food becomes harder to digest, it becomes less appealing to eat. This will often result in the alcoholic not enjoying food that they enjoyed before.

Anyone who has dealt with depression will notice that “no longer enjoying their favorite things” is commonly caused by depression. Well, the reverse is true too: It can also cause depression.

Alcoholics Have Trouble Planning Ahead and Thinking Clearly

Due to the damage alcohol causes to the frontal lobe, alcoholics will have trouble planning ahead. The frontal lobe is responsible for long-term thinking and language. This is why you will so frequently hear drunk people slur their words and act foolish—they can’t use their brains.

This effect does not go away when they sober up, though they notice it a lot more and it becomes a lot less fun. The result is a frustrating brain fog that makes decision-making hard.

Alcoholics are Grumpy and Depressed

When you can’t eat, have no energy, and can barely think straight, it is no wonder that you might get frustrated with your situation. This is on top of the fact that alcohol hinders your ability to control your impulses. This is why some people are more violent when they are drunk.

Alcoholics are More Dangerous for Themselves and Others

We are cautious to bring this up, as this is often used as a reason to avoid even the most harmless of alcoholics. “Alcoholics are more dangerous than normal people,” is a true statement, but there are two sides to its truth: Its impact on themselves, and on others.

For one, an alcoholic is far more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else. And for two, an alcoholic will cause most of their harm through negligence rather than pure malice.

How are Alcoholics Treated?

Withdrawal from Alcohol can be some of the deadliest withdrawal of any dependency. Therefore, treatment is done with copious medical intervention. This means medication like diazepam and lorazepam, both of which help handle the tension and anxiety.

Fortunately, much of the damage of alcoholism can be healed in time. The stomach, the liver, even the brain can be healed just by avoiding alcohol. That is why treating the withdrawal is so important: If you can survive withdrawal, you can survive alcoholism in general.


Nobody can deal with alcohol withdrawal on their own. It is just too dangerous. But there are people out there with both assistance and information. Click here to read the full article by Ascendant, which talks about the kinds of treatment options available to alcoholics.

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