How to Overcome a Fear of Alcohol Withdrawal After Quitting

Depressed-looking man sitting at table with a glass of liquor

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Have you ever wanted to quit drinking alcohol but were hesitant to do so because you feared that the withdrawal symptoms would be too severe? You are not alone. Many people are afraid the withdrawal symptoms could be dangerous if they quit drinking.

You may have tried to quit drinking alcohol before and discovered that the symptoms you experienced were more severe than you anticipated. Maybe you decided to go back to drinking just to relieve those symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the primary reason that many people quickly relapse when they attempt to quit.

Uncomfortable Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Can Be Reduced

Make no mistake about it, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and in some cases fatal. If you are a daily drinker, a heavy drinker or a frequent binge drinker, suddenly quitting will likely produce a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms.

But today there is help available for people trying to give up alcohol, even after a lifetime of heavy drinking. There is treatment available that can greatly reduce or eliminate most of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Seek Help Rather Than Quitting Cold Turkey Without Support

The key to quitting alcohol while avoiding unpleasant withdrawal symptoms is asking for help. If you have decided that it is in your best interest to stop drinking, one option is to seek help from your family doctor or primary healthcare provider.

There are specific medical treatments that your physician can provide you with that will stop or reduce most of the symptoms you would normally experience if you quit cold turkey.

Benzodiazepines (tranquilizers) are the main treatment for symptoms of withdrawal, like the shakes, and are also key to preventing serious complications such as delirium tremens (DTs).  Your healthcare provider may also suggest vitamins and dietary changes help with your withdrawal symptoms.

Professional Detox Programs

Another alternative, especially if you have experienced severe withdrawal in the past, is to check yourself into a professional detoxification facility. Detox programs involve short-term (usually less than seven days) inpatient treatment during which specially trained professionals monitor your withdrawal closely and administer medications as needed.

One advantage of in-patient detox is that you will be away from your usual drinking triggers and therefore be less likely to pick up a drink to stop the symptoms when they begin. And no, you do not have to have reached a crisis point to check into detox. People voluntarily check in every day.

A Word From Verywell

If you need to quit drinking, don't let alcohol withdrawal scare you off. There are medications and treatments available today that can help you get through those first early days of no alcohol consumption. You don't have to do it on your own.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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