Symptom Stages for Alcohol Withdrawal

Real life stories from days 1 through 30 and beyond

For those who experience withdrawal symptoms when they decide to quit drinking, the two most often asked questions are "Is this normal?" and "How long does it last?" The problem in trying to answer those questions lies in the fact that there is no "normal" when it comes to alcohol withdrawal.

People can experience a wide range of different symptoms—ranging from mild to moderate to severe—and those symptoms start and stop at different times for each person.

Common Symptoms During Alcohol Withdrawal
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin 

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First Hand Experiences

Almost 8,000 responses were gathered to the question, "What were your toughest withdrawal symptoms and how did you cope?" These comments reveal a wide variety of symptoms and experiences among those going through the early days of alcohol abstinence.

See what these people experienced each day after they quit drinking, from day one to day 30 and beyond. You'll notice that the experiences vary greatly, even on the same day.

While some experienced mild symptoms in the early days, others reported severe, sometimes frightening symptoms. Most of those who experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms do so because they're going through their detoxification period "on their own" without the benefit of medical help.

Those who sought help from their healthcare providers and were given medications to alleviate their symptoms reported milder symptoms overall and seemed to experience those symptoms over shorter periods of time.

Tips for Getting Help

Without medical help, you too can experience some of the severe symptoms reported here, but with help from your doctor or another healthcare provider, you can avoid much of the suffering that these people experienced.

If you do decide to seek medical help before quitting, be sure you are completely honest with your healthcare provider so that they can develop an accurate treatment plan for your situation. Then, be sure to follow your doctor's advice exactly.

If you decide to decline medical help and you try to detox on your own, make sure that someone healthy and responsible is around to keep an eye on you in case you get into trouble with severe withdrawal symptoms.


Day One

For many who decide to quit drinking, the first day of abstinence usually follows a day of very heavy alcohol consumption—either a binge or a multi-day bender. As a result, the first symptoms they experience are basically hangover symptoms.

However, as the first day continues and the hangover symptoms subside, they then begin to experience the beginnings of actual alcohol withdrawal symptoms, especially if they've been daily drinkers. Here's how people reported their symptoms on day 1 after quitting drinking:

Mild Symptoms

"I am forgetful, have a hard time concentrating, and sometimes find it hard to formulate meaningful sentences."

"I am in my first hours of sobriety. I just took the quiz for withdrawal symptoms and scored 60 percent moderate to severe. Funny, because my average hangover is usually worse than this."

"I'm shaky, jumpy, and anxious today. I'm really afraid of how I'll feel tomorrow as I can't miss work, but I know I have to do this. I can't imagine that I won't have a bad withdrawal given the high volume of alcohol I've been consuming on a daily basis."

Moderate Symptoms

"I'm about four hours away from the 24-hour mark, and my symptoms are finally beginning to subside. The shaking/tremors and pounding heartbeat are gone. My head feels a little cloudy, and I'm tired. And, I still have the itching/tingly feeling in my legs and feet."

"Tried again today, but it was severe this time—bad shaking, sweating, rapid heartbeat. Instead of going to hospital or doctor, I tried to wean and reduce for a few days."

"I am now full of anxiety and starting to go through that nightmare again. I was extremely sick today and I thought I was going to have to call 911."

"I went to the ER yesterday because I knew after my last binge, this wasn't going to be easy and they gave me Librium to take home. I hope the Librium helps and I can make it into work tomorrow."

Severe Symptoms

"Today is day one and not pretty! I didn't sleep well and sweated all night. This morning I had the shakes and dry heaves."

"I feel terrible, shaky, stomach hurts, sweating, and anxiety is through the roof. But if I don't stop I will lose my job. Just need the courage to say no to alcohol and the very temporary relief it brings. Why is it so hard?"

"Today I had to miss work again because I didn't sleep again, I have had sweat pouring off me all day, I'm shaking so bad, and my chest is hurting so bad, I know if I drink it will go away, but then nothing gets better, I feel like I'm going to die right now."

"It's been one day and I can't stop shaking. It's even difficult to type this. My heart is beating really quickly and my chest hurts. I've been throwing up all day and can't even keep water down. The thought of food makes me want to vomit."

"I experienced severe withdrawal symptoms when I tried to quit. Uncontrollable shaking, hallucinations of people and spiders, all my vision cutting out or going into a tunnel-like view, and a fear of falling over dead at any moment. Scared, I went to the hospital. Blood pressure was 200 over 130 and heart rate at 150 BPM lying at rest. They stabilized me with a bunch of IV meds and admitted me for alcohol detox."

"Oh my God, this is horrible. Shaking so bad I can hardly type, can barely stand up, can't eat or sleep. Might be time for a trip to the ER."

"The withdrawal is bad like it usually is. Vomiting, diarrhea, shakes, pins and needles in my hands and feet, anxiety, terror—the list goes on and on. My skin is so dry and I have redness all around my mouth and nose. And I have a terrible sore throat from all the vomiting. This sucks."

Many withdrawal symptoms can be greatly reduced by consulting a health care provider and taking medication to relieve symptoms.


Day Two

Going into the second day of abstinence from alcohol, people reported a wide variety of experiences. For some, their symptoms are already subsiding, while others are beginning to experience more severe symptoms.

As you also can see from these reports, those who seek medical attention get some relief. Doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the likelihood of experiencing shakes and anxiety during alcohol withdrawal and they can also give you something to help you sleep.

Mild Symptoms

"I think the hardest part is the 24 to 48 hour period that I have. It is actually now. I am bored, folding laundry, and craving a glass of wine. My anxiety is high and I hate it!"

"Now the withdrawals are so terrible, it almost seems easier to pick up a drink than to face the awful anxiety and shakes. But I know it gets much worse."

"Most of my withdrawal symptoms are gone but I still have sharp pains in my head and can't sleep and get night sweats."

"I got through Day 1 with hot and cold spells, increased pulse, high blood pressure, and headaches. My jaws hurt as well, but possibly that's from tension. Already I feel better and hope every day continues that way."

Moderate Symptoms

"Man, what a day. I do feel better than yesterday, though. Throat still hurts a bit from the vomiting, still sweating and clammy, can't sleep, have a bit of heartburn/indigestion. Visiting the toilet is becoming less frequent, even managed to get a small meal in me."

"Today is my second day sober and I feel totally horrible. Shakes, sweats and insomnia. I even feel I am hearing noises that don't exist. Anyways I talked to my doctor and she prescribed a small dose of Valium to help me pull through. It seems to be helping and I am taking small doses. I hope tomorrow I won't need it."

"It's day 2: minor auditory hallucinations, irritable, tired."

"Thankfully I'm able to sleep, and the shakes come and go, but the anxiety and the dark places are tough."

"Less shaky and sweaty, not barfing. I think I'm doing ok because of deep breathing when the anxiety creeps up. Going at a snail's pace. Haven't really had a full meal yet, but I did hear my stomach growl so I boiled up some eggs. Waiting for my sight to clear up. I may have to break out the glasses."

"I did not sleep till 6 am last night but managed I make it through the day without napping and even did some light cardio for about 20 minutes. Hoping that helps me sleep tonight! Even if it does not, I will continue to power through."

"On my second day sober, I actually feel much worse than I did with a hangover. Pounding headache, shakes, feeling feverish, and crazy mood swings (all of a sudden bursting into tears)."

Severe Symptoms

"I quit 2 days ago and have just had the unfortunate experience of a seizure. As well as many visual and tactile hallucinations. Massive sweats and tremors. I managed the seizure on my own. I was advised to cut down first as opposed to going cold turkey which I've done in the past."

"I think I've seriously damaged my brain. Maybe a seizure. Sudden sharp pains in the head. Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations. Confusion. Couldn't walk right. I've had many withdrawals but never this severe. I'm scared I've seriously damaged myself mentally."

"I can't eat or sleep, literally drenched the sheets last night. Now I am shaking so bad I can barely type. I have never made it past 2 days because of this, so I hope it gets better soon."

"Spent day in ER, heart rate of 160, dehydrated and generally just sick. Shaking so bad I couldn't walk, anxiety attack that convinced me I was having a stroke on the way to the hospital! It was awful and I will try to hold it close, but already fighting the urge to stop for a 12 pack on my way home!"

"Horrible headache, cranky, lots of anxiety. I'm so worried about my health, I have been having this pain on the right side upper level by ribs, I'm afraid is my liver. I do have night sweats but not hallucinations thank God!"

"Ripped off pajamas in the middle of our coldest winter ever, due to sweats - tossed turned tossed turned, Maybe 2 hours sleep in total. Head bursting - feels like blood pressure. Heart palpitations, sweats."

"Waking up every hour on the hour seeing dark shapes in the room. Looked up one time and thought someone was standing over me. Got up and laid in bed with the light on until about five in the morning. I will try and sleep with the lights on all night tonight."

"Last night was horrible as I was soaking wet with sweat, I jumped a few times in my sleep and I had very vivid dream-like states. Today, I've felt depressed, fatigued and I have a slight headache."

"If I get to sleep I'm rudely awakened by the worst nightmares I've had in my entire life. I've been seeing shadows flicker here and there, that started approximately 12 hours ago. My bones are killing me, this is the most anxious I've ever been. I honestly feel like I'm dying."


Day Three

As day 3 begins, alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to ease up for some who've quit drinking, but for others, they're just beginning to get intense. For others, the same symptoms they had on day one continue and they begin to ask, "How long does this last?"

For those who symptoms begin to increase on day three, the urge to drink to relieve those withdrawal symptoms can become overwhelming.

For many, it's very difficult to get past the third day of unrelenting shakes and sweats without picking up a drink.

Here are reports of symptoms experienced on day 3 of alcohol abstinence.

Mild Symptoms

"My worst symptoms so far seem to be lightheadedness, minor irritability, and insomnia."

"I am into day 3 and doing okay. No major symptoms. This is to let folks know that not everyone has severe physical symptoms."

"The physical symptoms aren't so bad but my mind seems to be trying to figure out how I can have just one drink. I have plans to get some yard work done so that will keep me busy."

"I have weird ringing in the ears and dizziness (moderate). I have had it before with drinking but it is also worse sober. I also have cold clammy skin while feeling hot flashes. I feel sometimes as if I have earmuffs on."

"On day 3 and not too bad. Night sweats and no sleep other than that no real problems."

"I'm on day 3 of no alcohol - and apart from that fidgety need to start at 7 pm (as was my usual cocktail hour!) I have had none of the horrific symptoms some of you have had. In fact, I have had no adverse symptoms as yet (I know it's early days though). I'm relieved but quite frankly surprised as I drink a lot more than some."

Moderate Symptoms

"The shakes aren't that noticeable and my anxiety/chest pain has gone but my pupils are huge! I was embarrassed to leave the house today so I have been holed up in my apartment."

"Well, somehow I made it through 3 days. Went from shaky to wanting to scream all day. I almost talked myself into 'just one more' several times, but somehow made it through."

"I stayed busy with errands and yard work although a cold beer to finish off my day wasn't far from my mind all day long and one for me is more like 12. Still "foggy" in the head and have had some nausea and sweats but not unbearable. Feel much better than I do after a night of drinking, which up until now has been nearly every day for 3 years."

"First evening was horrible, I felt like I had the flu, had to pee every 5 minutes, had cold chills, bad dreams, bed sweats and couldn't sleep more than 10 minutes at a time. Day 2 still fuzzy head can't focus on work, feel tired and very high anxiety. Bed sweats really bad but got some sleep. This is day 3 and I feel better, still no motivation and nervous."

"I realized when I couldn't sleep last night that all day I had been sweating for no reason and it dawned on me that I was probably having withdrawals. I looked at my hands and was shaky and I remembered earlier I checked my pulse because it felt like my heart was racing."

Severe Symptoms

"The first day I thought was just another hangover. The second day I was worried that I had the stomach flu. The third day when I was heaving my guts out I knew something else was going on. I called my doctor and she sent me to the ER for fluids and blood tests. Alcohol withdrawal. I never heard of it before."

"It's been really tough, constant inner voice trying to persuade me just the one night drinking again would be okay. I have just had to surf the urges, keep busy and use all my strength."

"Still have all the usual symptoms that I've had before like shaking, insomnia, nightmares, muscle cramps and spasms, and night sweats. These are getting better slowly, but anxiety is a new one for me at least. My mind has been racing all day and I can't concentrate on anything today. I just keep going from one thing to the next nonstop. It's driving me crazy."

"I actually slept but still waking up drenched in sweat. The shakes have minimized. I feel better I actually ate three meals yesterday."

"The third day sober feels like I'm in a big black hole and under great pressure - hard to breathe, future feels bleak, lost an old trusted friend in alcohol, can't find an alternative. I hope this gets better and the headaches disappear."

"Yesterday was awful. Guilt, depressed, tired, nauseous. Allover feeling of malaise. My energy level was so low I couldn't make myself anything to eat but was able to throw some fruit into a bowl. I drank tons of water. Didn't take much energy to get that into a glass from the tap."

"I quit cold turkey. The DTs were absolutely terrible. I barely remember all of it except lying in my bed for days with the shades drawn never really knowing what time or even what day it was. I remember feeling like I was going crazy and rolling around on my mattress in a dazed state of confusion and anxiety. Sometimes I'd call out things because I'd think someone was speaking to me, but there was no one there and my roommate determined I was having auditory hallucinations."

"I know that this smell of sweat worse than normal sweat is just toxins leaving my body, but even if I could stand up for long now on day 3, I couldn't let anyone see me. I smell horrible, even after a bath. Well, hours 6 through 48 were the worst, with all the vomiting and shaking. I still feel very sick and weak, and a little shaky, but I was sober before and will make it there again."

"I feel like I am on a cloud and do things over and over again without noticing. I freak out and my heart races at every little noise in my home. I have night sweats so bad and when I wake up. Then all day I am freezing. I am constantly shaking and recently felt my heart racing I felt I was having a heart attack. But I would have to say last night was worse, I was having auditory hallucinations that woke me up out of my sleep."


Day Four

For those who do make it through day three of alcohol withdrawal symptoms without taking a drink, day 4 for many brings relief from their most severe symptoms. For some people, however, day 4 is just the beginning of their withdrawal nightmare.

Those who experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms, such as hallucinations and seizures, don't begin to have those symptoms until day 4 or 5.

As you can see from the comments below, day 4 experiences can vary widely from one person to the next.

Getting Some Relief

"I am on day 4 now and am doing much better. Withdrawals seem to be gone, except for not being able to sleep but I have never been very good at that."

"Feeling better. Best night's sleep in some time. Weird dreams but not too nasty and scary. Feel a little weak but I did avoid food for about four days. Very reflective still. So many blackouts down the years."

"It is absolutely wonderful to wake in the morning with no hangover at all. No tummy upset. No headache. No run-down feeling. Yay for day 4!"

"It is day four today, no symptoms really except I smell bad and I can't sleep. This is the longest without a drink for years. I can do it. I must do it."

"I'm on day 4 feel pretty good. The first few hours of withdrawals, this time, were much more intense than my previous bout but they only lasted about 24 hours. When I quit a few weeks ago it lasted like 8 days."

"Woke up on day 4 and after 7 hours sleep (best for years) I felt great. I still had the cravings for a drink but everything seemed to be in color again."

Moderate Symptoms

"No more dry heaves, no more general sick feeling, just a bit shaky (slight occasional tremors) and a bit of anxiety. "

"Today I still have dark circles but the puffiness is better and my bloated belly is a little better. I had incredible gas pains for the first 3 days. I do still have that awful feeling like at any second I am going to go crazy."

"Feeling a bit better. Luckily my biggest withdrawals are insomnia and very itchy skin, all over (face, arms, legs, back.) One concern I have is my swollen abdomen and well my body in general."

"I made it to day 4 though still can't sleep. Insomnia is the worst thing now. The anxiety, sweats, and nausea in the morning have lessened a bit now. Just hanging on thinking if I make it a week it will be an accomplishment."

"Today was the fourth day and fortunately not near the hell the first three were. I am hoping that means I may finally sleep tonight. For me, the toughest parts of quitting are the vomiting (dry heaves), insomnia and anxiety."

"Well, at day 4. Some withdrawal symptoms still present - anxiety and faster heart rate. Most of the sweating has subsided, and I actually forced myself to exercise yesterday to try and sweat more out. Had to wash my sheets because they stunk from heavy withdrawals earlier this week. Got my appetite back finally, so that has been nice."

"First three days were godawful. I feel like trying to exercise really helps with the anxiety and sleeplessness. I still have trouble sleeping and crave alcohol (especially at night) but I finally am beginning to feel like a human again!"

"This was my worst withdrawal ever. I thought I was going to die. The sweating cold then hot. I keep air on with a fan on me with a blanket nearby. The dreams and visions with eyes open terrified me. I just got my first morning sleep at 6:30 a.m. today. I was up straight the last 3 days. I am never going through these shakes, dreams, itching and sweats again."

"The withdrawals this time have been more subtle. Anxiety, headache, jaw pain, diarrhea, moody and emotional. On day four and I am feeling a little brighter, though I have decided to go to work later today so I could have a good rest this morning."

Paranoia, Hallucinations, Headaches

"I have been going through shaking for 3 days now, but what scares me the most is my inability to think. I am very paranoid and don't know why, peeking out windows an not thinking rationally."

"The anxiety and insomnia have been the worst. Last night I felt like I was coming out of my skin. I woke up this morning with a nasty headache & nausea (for a minute, I was afraid I was hungover)."

"Bad headache today but no sweats last night and bad dreams. I haven't dreamed in years, always unconscious rather than asleep I guess. I can't have been good for my mental health."

"Called my wife at day four of detox to come home as soon as possible. She drove me and the kids to the ER. My eyes had double vision, I was hallucinating and from what they said, I wanted to bite everything and everyone. I woke up in a strange, different hospital."

"I’m suffering from headaches, restlessness, difficulty thinking clearly and sleeping. The worst time for craving is early evening."

"Last night I had a hallucination of animals all over my room, I woke up to all of them staring at me. Freaked out!"


Day Five

There are two times during alcohol withdrawal that people trying to quit are most tempted to take another drink. One is when the symptoms get really bad and the other is when they start feeling better.

If the withdrawal symptoms persist for five days, many will give in and take a drink to get some relief. That's why you hear some people say they have quit for three or four days a hundred times.

Ironically, for other drinkers, it's when day 4 and 5 bring some relief from the worse symptoms that they're tempted to drink: They forget the pain and tell themselves one little drink won't hurt.

As you can see from the comments below, withdrawals are different for everyone. Some are finally able to get some sleep at day 5, while others still have problems sleeping.

For Some, Day Five Brings Relief

"Depression is gone, anxiety gone, and all else gone. Didn't sleep great last night but tonight will be good. I've been on day 5 hundreds of times before so I'm not fooling anybody yet but this feels new."

"Day 5 was pretty good, out working in the yard again, some cramping, but that could have been working in the heat and getting a little dehydrated. Hard time getting to sleep but when I did around 4:30 in the morning it was the best real sleep I've had in months."

"I never thought I could even get this far but I have. The worst thing for me was becoming irritable and snapping at people but I know it's because I wanted my drug but I had to tell myself it's all in the mind."

"What finally helped me with withdrawal was exercise. If I was going to sweat as part of the withdrawal it would be at the gym. If I had toxins I was going to work it out. So far day 5 and no withdrawal symptoms. For me, it was exercise and sauna."

"Halfway through day 5 sober now and I feel much better. I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night. Well now that most of the physical symptoms have gone away, time to work at staying sober. This is usually where I mess up and drink because I am feeling better and think I can handle it. I know I can't."

"Slept in my bed and I feel good, no night sweats, but prior to going to sleep experienced that my body jumped and trembled. Convulsions maybe?"

For Others, Symptoms Continue

"Still having cravings and thinking a lot about drinking but I haven't given in. I'm so exhausted, though, and nauseated, I would probably get sick if I had a drink. I have noticed the cravings for sugar, raw sugar snap peas take the edge off that, for me anyway."

"The physical effects of withdrawing are not so bad so far. Feels like the mild flu. But the tension is unbelievable. I'm having more problems with stress, losing my temper and generally being horrible to my loved ones."

"The worst part of my withdrawal is the complete exhaustion I feel over doing the simplest things like do the dishes or take a shower or clean. Also, heart palpitations. I also completely lost my appetite and was having problems chewing and swallowing solid food."

"Last night I had crazy nightmares and not much sleep. I woke with the same hung-over feeling as yesterday. My appetite is off and I have had diarrhea the last couple of days."

"My withdrawal was filled with anxiety and clammy skin. I'm through it now and never want to go back there. I already feel a sense of freedom from the alcohol."

"I am on day 5 and constantly on the verge of tears. Less shaky, but cannot sleep. I sweat, terrible nightmares, and leg cramps along with the stomach bloating and side cramping, although the right side cramping has subsided a bit."

"My insomnia is still pretty bad. Takes forever to get to sleep and I'm waking up too early. Worst headache yet today but I'm drinking so much coffee that I'm starting to wonder if it may be the caffeine. As of yet not too much anxiety. I've lost a few pounds but I had a few pounds to lose so I'm okay with that."

"Sweats have stopped but headache still here. I got two hours sleep then woke up with a nightmare, lay staring at the ceiling until morning."

"I sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes wrestling with whether to buy beer on my way home. The physical symptoms are still there though diminished a bit. Now it is the patterns I must address. Today made that clear."

"Feeling better today, but had to write my signature in front of a stranger, was embarrassed at the shaking and my illegible name. I think I have only had 3 hours of sleep in all this time, hoping tonight will be better."

"I get bad sweating even when sitting still, my head feels thick, my stomach hurts and lots of gas. It's been getting better by the day, but this morning again I feel a bit nauseous and getting hot and cold sweats."

"I wake up daily feeling like I have a hangover and it's bad. My back hurts and my body is achy. I sweat through the day can't think clearly, irritable and mad about everything. I can't sleep I wake up constantly and have horrible nightmares."

"My head feels funny as if thousands of ants are running inside."


Day Six

Day 6 of no alcohol consumption means most of the more severe withdrawal symptoms have subsided significantly, but some nagging symptoms can persist. As you have seen through days 1 through 5 of alcohol abstinence, sleep plays a big role in withdrawal.

Quitting alcohol consumption affects drinkers' sleep patterns differently. Some are able to return to normal sleep patterns after a few days, while others struggle with getting a good night's sleep long after they quit drinking.

That could be because they didn't have normal sleep patterns, to begin with. Or, daily drinking can cause disruptions in sleep, so quitting suddenly can be a shock to the system. After six days of sobriety, these people report vastly different experiences with sleep and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Getting Sleep, Dealing With Cravings

"I've made it to day six for the first time in a long time, and I'm proud to say that I'm through the worst of the withdrawal. No more sweating and headaches, and I've actually had 3 nights of sound sleep. It's amazing how different I feel."

"I'm still okay on day 6, and getting clearer every day. For me, I bought into the myth of the highly functioning alcoholic, thinking I must be one because I haven't hit bottom and haven't lost everything. But on my day 1, I had to be out in public, shakes and baggy eyes and all. I felt transparent and embarrassed."

"Already feeling semi-human. Sleeping much better, bloating gone, anxiety still there, but way down, no booze cravings, clear thinking, social skills improving, lost 5 pounds, have saved $100 from not buying beer, and can finally stop taking Prilosec for a ruined stomach. I am still deep in the woods I know, but there is a clear road out, just have to stay on it no matter what."

"The more time that goes by the clearer the picture becomes. I see my triggers and I work through them. I'm always thirsty and drink a lot of water. I'm still not sleeping through the night but I'm sure time will help."

"I got bad withdrawals symptoms for the first three days. Now I'm doing much better. The biggest problem for me right now is that I get morning anxiety attacks for the past days but they are getting less and less."

Mood Swings, Brain Fog, and Anxiety

"I haven't experienced any shakes, pains, bad dreams. I actually sleep better now than when I was drinking. My problem is the mood swings, I have an irrational rage and sometimes want to destroy everything around me. I have a constant feeling of restlessness in my surroundings."

"I spent 5 days in the hospital detoxing. The first 12 hours were horrible! Shaking uncontrollably, sweating, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep. The doctor gave me lorazepam to take the edge off. I think I was in a chemically-induced coma for those days. I hardly remember anything. I remember having a "fall risk" bracelet on my wrist because I couldn't walk by myself. I was so dizzy and couldn't catch my balance."

"I'm on day 6 and feeling foggy but so much better and steadier. Have had a few temptations. Feel really moody and snapping at people, just hope they understand."

"The hardest symptom for me is the anxiety. Every day when I drive home from work I get a panicked feeling and I would tell myself if I could just make it home I could have a beer or a glass of wine as soon as I walk in the door. Well, this work week I had to come up with something else to look forward to when I got home. I wanted to go for a walk but most days I sat on the couch sneezing and blowing my nose and zoning out. I'm tired of feeling so out of focus, I hope I get sharper soon."

"Still on Ativan, today is day six with no wine (and I was a 3 bottle a day) habit. I hope my typing skills return and the ability to eat and carry on meaningful conversations."

"On day six, anxiety, dizzy no sleep, exhausted, does anyone ever feel like an electric current sometimes runs through your body, wow. But I do notice it's getting better every day."

"Day 6: lightheaded, dizzy, no sleep, pale, weak, and it feels like electric shocks shoot through my body every so often, and crazy anxiety."

"Every day I felt sure I was dying from either heart failure, liver disease or kidney failure. My blood pressure was 151/106 on day two of withdrawal. I am happy to say that on day six my blood pressure is normal again. I still have a tingly numb sensation in my arm."

"No night sweats just itchy. I kept checking my bed for ants or any insect that seemed to be biting me (hallucination). My eyes feel tight and on fire. I'm so thirsty. I keep drinking water and warm tea! Helps a lot."

"Gradually, it's getting better. The only symptoms I seem to have now is occasional goosebumps/skin crawling, lack of focus, and anxiety. Still experiencing strange dreams and nightmares but I remind myself they’re not real and it helps."

"My first few days were horrible, like the worst flu I have ever experienced. But what scared me the most was a nightmare that continued, even after I awoke in complete panic; I saw and heard my "nightmare" running on the walls and ceilings. But it passed, and I continued forward."

"I am on day six today and feeling much better. Very slight discomfort in the chest occasionally. No sweating. Disturbed sleep? Yes. But I guess in a few days I should be fine."


Day Seven

For the vast majority of people, the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have passed by day seven. For most people, after a week of abstinence, the main symptom they have to face is craving for alcohol.

After seven days the battle becomes more psychological than physical for most people who quit drinking. That's the time when having the help of professional counseling or a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous can be of benefit.

However, for some, the physical symptoms will continue even after seven days. If you're still experiencing physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms after a week, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately.

As you can see below, people who were still having physical symptoms after seven days regretted not seeking medical help.

Cravings, Stress, and Staying Sober

"This disease is certainly as cunning as people say, I'm fighting little voices today that say look, you did a week, you proved you can stop anytime you want, but why should you have to, just pull it back a little. I'm just trying to focus on not this drink, not today."

"Day 4 was good, Day 5 even better and, as I finish day six I truly feel as if the recent nine months' sobriety had done great good for my body. That said, I hope never to forget how much damage I felt in four days of drink."

"Going back to the office was a little stressful. My physical cravings are somewhat subsiding. I have the psychological urges. More like a bad habit. I'm used to stopping off to buy a couple of bottles on my way home from the office. Even though I don't have an alcohol craving, these little reminders sometimes bring my mind back for a few seconds."

"I'm at day 7 and I feel so wonderful that I don't want to go back. Still, I get the cravings now and then."

"My eyes and face are less puffy, my mind is clearer, and the anxiety and depression are lifting. I actually made it through two evening events this week, one a dinner meeting with excellent wine flowing, and the other a hosted business cocktail reception—and I stuck to sparkling water at one and diet coke at the other. I would never have before."

"I am on day seven and feeling a ton better. Days 1-4 were hell. It started with extreme anxiety, continued to the shakes and trembling hands, and very little sleep; of which I had the sweats and chills when I did sleep. Add to that my level of anger I experienced. I wanted to hit someone and blame everyone."

Seizures, Panic, and More Insomnia

"First 4 days were terrible. Feeling better, but still feel extremely fatigued and have waves of nausea."

"I can't believe the luxury of sleep! After a really hard time, I slept for two nights! Not all night, but great sleep."

"Day six was good, but after so long with no sleep, day 7 I spent in the hospital, just laid on the couch, and went into a full-blown seizure, woke up on floor sore all over, the only thing I remember is the extreme tingling all through my body. I was alone and called 911. A paramedic on each side holding me up, I felt like my legs were rubber bands."

"I made it through 7 days of horror. Shaking too bad to get a glass of water to my mouth, vomiting with nothing in my stomach, no sleep, too weak to get to the bathroom without holding on to something with bad diarrhea, imaginary demons and bugs, and sweating so much that even if I did manage to get myself into the bathtub, it smelled like I hadn't bathed in a week an hour later."

"Starting to feel a little better. If I had the money, I would have gone to a 30-day rehab. I am still having shakes now and again. My head is in a fog constantly."

"It's just crazy how some little thing will throw me into a panic. My stomach is still hurting like it's on fire. Sweats and shakes are gone but I've had such a horrible headache might check in with a doctor because I do have a brain aneurysm. So scared of having another seizure."

"What did catch me by surprise was the intensity of the nightmares and the hallucinations (experienced once), the rashes that began around day three, and also the feeling, which started around day four, that I had a hangover from the night before. However, by day seven the "hangover" feeling is less, and the rashes are less, and sleeping is improving too."

"The depression is deep, and racing thoughts are hard to control."

"It's the mood swings that scare me. One moment up, next down and no concentration. It's hard to pretend to be happy and normal."

"I'm just on day 7 and I still have some of the symptoms but they are not near as severe. I still have cravings for alcohol but so far I have managed through it. If I had to do it over again I would go to a rehab facility because I'm not as tough as I thought I was. Withdrawal symptoms are hell!"


Day Eight

By day eight of abstinence from alcohol, many people are usually beginning to see the health advantages of having quit drinking. For most, the main symptom they have to deal with after eight days is craving for alcohol.

Seek medical assistance if your physical symptoms last for a week or longer. The symptoms you're experiencing may not be the result of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Only your healthcare provider can tell for sure.

Better Sleep, Lower Blood Pressure

"Eight days without a drink and I feel incredible. I woke up this morning and was just so happy to have no head pounding, no sweats, no guilt, no "Can I make it the four hours until liquor stores open?" feelings."

"Haven't listened to the little voice. Thinking about all the money I'm saving. The only issue besides the little voice is insomnia, but getting some sleep. One very positive thing is that my blood pressure and heart rate have come down to just about normal."

"My first three days, my worst symptoms were: nausea, sweating, shaky hands, insomnia ( I would normally shrug off as a hangover). Day 4 felt better, woke up on day five and my head felt really clear then got to work and had a huge bout of anxiety all day (never knew before this was a withdrawal symptom). Day six and seven much better. Slept like a baby, pulsing in left leg decreased."

"Physically I feel fine now, but I still crave alcohol like crazy. That's going to be the worst part."

"Am on day eight and feeling great. My skin is clearing up, I am not anxious, paranoid, fearful, shaky, nauseous, instead, I am feeling clear-headed, stronger, my appetite has increased majorly. I have money in my pocket, my house is clean, already my relationships are better with my girlfriend and mother. The urge is still there but it comes and goes."

"I feel great, although today is anxiety-ridden and sleep is still a problem because I think that the bottle or two of wine trained my brain to get sleepy early and I am trying to rewire it so that I can sleep. I get sleepy at 7PM and then am awake all night."

"My biggest challenge over the last few days is dealing with people who won't take no for an answer where drinking is concerned. People at my new workplace keep asking me to join them for after work drinks and even though I've managed to say no it's not that easy."

Headache, Nausea, Disrupted Sleep

"When I got out of bed this morning I felt so ill, my head had been aching all night, it is day eight for me. I feel flat, and find the evenings difficult, feeling restless, with alcohol consuming all my thoughts. I can't imagine my life without a drink just yet, and look forward to feeling better."

"My worst withdrawal symptom is that my brain does not seem to work very well. Lot's of spelling errors and poor fine motor skills. I will not even go into the insomnia."

"It's day eight and I can't keep anything down not even a glass of water."

"On my eighth day and am very tired all the time. The biggest problem I am having besides being so tired and not able to sleep except in spurts. Having strange dreams which I do not ever have before."


Day Nine

Those who make it to day nine of abstinence from alcohol begin to see real results in how not drinking is affecting their lives. Some nagging symptoms may still be around, but the benefits far outweigh the negative after nine days.

Getting Things Done, More Energy

"Well, here is day nine and I feel great! A few cravings every day, but I tell myself how bad it was to detox cold turkey, and how good I feel now. I am actually getting things done in my life that I was putting off because I was always drunk."

"The whites of my eyes are white again, my urine is started to look normal and my bowel movements are getting normal. My energy level and mental alertness are way up and it's only getting better."

"Well, here I am at day nine, and the itching has cleared up. I still feel groggy and confused at times but at other times moments of extreme clarity. Headaches are clearing up as well."

Cravings, Constant Headache

"Day nine. I am sure I put myself in danger by withdrawing myself, (heart palpitations, night sweats, general disorientation), but most symptoms outside of "craving" have subsided. Peanut M&M's have become my new "best friend." It really has helped to have the sugar when I need it."

"Just made it to day nine. Still, feel awful but the creepy crawlies have stopped flitting around the corners of my eyes."

"This is my ninth day of sobriety. It feels good. I feel strong. I am also amazed I have had none of the typical shakes, hallucinations, palpitations, etc. Other than a horrific constant headache."


Day 10

The longer you're abstinent, the more time your mind and body have to heal. By this time, people are often beginning to feel better and have more energy.

At 10 days without alcohol, if you still have any physical withdrawal symptoms, as reported below, they're possibly due to some other condition than alcohol withdrawal. Please seek medical advice.

Advantages of 10 Days of Abstinence

"Feel a lot stronger, eating healthy and keeping up with everything. Lots of time on my hands I used to spend drinking. My swollen abdomen has already started going down and I have energy. Plus I have my self-esteem back and don't feel like a loser at life."

"I am now on day ten without the demon drink feeling just okay. I am not sure who I am without the demon on board, but I kind of like who I am at the moment."

"Symptoms are reducing daily and have had the best two night's sleep in a very long time. Just loving waking up without counting the hours to the next drink and long may it continue, bearing in mind that it has to be one day at a time and I am mindful of this every day."

"Now 10 days without cannabis or alcohol my mind has never felt sharper I have started swimming and going to the gym and never felt better."

Cravings, Stomachache, and Anxiety

"I can still feel it talking to me, telling me it's okay to have one just one. Ha ha! How many times have I fallen for that one? I still find it crazy that we can forget or forgive the horrific withdrawals, the head splitting depression, the aches, paranoia and raw anxiety. Like how bad does it really have to get? I don't think I have it in me to fail again."

"What I'm noticing now is real bad stomachaches, gas bloating and nausea, and loud growling."

"The first 7 days was tough but I am starting to feel somewhat normal. I have been keeping busy cleaning the house (which is spotless right now) and staying at work late to resist the temptation. Finally the night sweats, shakes, and nausea are gone. The anxiety is still there, but I am learning to live with it in hopes that it will pass."


Day 11

If physical symptoms continue after 11 days of abstinence, seek medical attention—those lingering symptoms are probably due to some other cause than alcohol withdrawal.

The further you get from your last drink the better most former drinkers feel.

Healthy Skin, Feeling Better

"Since I've quit drinking I've had aches in every joint and even now the periodic taste of alcohol in my mouth. It's the taste of detox I'm guessing. Already I'm sleeping better, feeling better though I'm a little spacy and my skin already looks healthier."

"Happy to say, most of my withdrawal symptoms are gone. No sweating, no shakes and getting some decent sleep. I have actually never felt better."

"Wow, what a rough night it was last night. I spent what seemed like an eternity struggling with myself not to go and buy beer. I finally tried to go to bed at 10 p.m., tossed and turned and kept considering just having a drink. Finally, I got up, jumped in the car and headed to Walmart to purchase some chocolate and yes it did the trick."

Shakes, Numbness, and Rashes

"At day 11, I still suffer from insomnia and itching, but the rashes are clearing, sweating nearly stopped, shaking almost gone, and my head seems a bit clearer too."

"There are still some tiny tremors in my hands, and the neuropathy (numbness) is down to just the toes instead of half of each foot."

"I needed professional help as I had severe withdrawal symptoms of a DT nature with hallucinations, a possible seizure, and fear I would fall over dead any second. I went to ER and detoxed 5 days in the hospital."


Day 12

After 12 days of abstinence from alcohol, most people who quit have very few withdrawal symptoms. The struggle at this stage is trying to remain sober.

Intense cravings and irritability are some common symptoms reported after day 12.

Cravings, Irritability, Weird Dreams

"Honestly, my cravings are super intense (especially for beer). I did a lot of yard work and watched a lot of football this weekend. It was tough to do that without my right-hand man, Mr. Coors. But I made it and we all can."

"I'm on day 12 of not drinking. I'm past the horrible withdrawal and am now feeling better, at least physically. I see that I am one person when I drink and another reasonable "normal" person when I don't. To even consider drinking again after experiencing all the crap that goes along with it and after having survived the anxiety and physical agony of withdrawal just shows how deep this addiction is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual."

"Today is day 12. I feel good today but was very irritable last night. I am very happy that I am starting to see the bloating that alcohol caused dissipate. My clothes are fitting better and my face isn't as puffy."

"I'm feeling so much better about my life and my actions. I love life without alcohol. Every day that passes I realize the cravings are fewer and far between. One of the biggest things I've noticed is I'm not so "tired" all the time. For years, the most common phrase out of my mouth is "I'm exhausted." This being said on a daily basis. I just don't feel that these days. "

"Glad to say I have no real desire to drink because I feel so good. My mind is much clearer at work. I can even fall asleep now without a sleeping pill. I am very proud of me."

"It is now day 12! I am so much better. Today I went to the grocery store and I cannot believe how clear everything is getting, it's amazing how foggy life was."

"Day 12 - I'm very irritated at times. I feel really good about my choice to quit drinking. I have headaches often and I also have weird and bad dreams. Every night I dream that I'm having a drink again."


Day 13

People in recovery continue to report the benefits of not drinking alcohol after 13 days of abstinence.

Uninterrupted Sleep, Good Appetite

"It's day 13 and I must say I feel terrific! I'm still having trouble falling asleep, but once I do sleep it is very, very sound. And I feel so much better than any morning after having the drink. I had some pain in my esophagus when swallowing and that is now gone."

"Today is day 13. Most symptoms are gone except constipation and occasional shakes. Been sleeping really good."

"Day 13 and feel very good, although agitation level is up a bit. I am much calmer, anxiety has subsided, stomach better, have an appetite, and sleeping 8 hours without waking up at 4 a.m. Has also helped with the depression too, although that's a separate issue."

"Day 13 - Over the past couple of days the headaches have subsided, but I'm itchy as hell! When I do sleep, it's uninterrupted 8-9 hours which is very nice!"


Day 14

After two weeks of total abstinence from alcohol, the most common symptom reported is insomnia, but that could be attributed to other factors than alcohol withdrawal.

Insomnia, Irritability

"I realize this is no easy task. I am in my thirties and just now have decided to quit. Today is day 14 and I am not sleeping right I snap at everyone."

"Sleep is a problem, but if I sleep at all it is a good night. I think that I have always had the sleep disorder."


Week Three

After two weeks of abstinence, the benefits of no longer drinking at harmful levels continue to become evident, and for some, even the craving for alcohol begins to subside, as reported below.

Thinking Clearly, Fewer Cravings

"I'm feeling fantastic. I have lost weight, my skin looks amazing [suffered from rashes all over my body and face] My energy and confidence are back. It is wonderful."

"I am on day 15 and feel like I am actually going into the "honeymoon" phase of my recovery. I feel great and am finally starting to be able to think clearly."

"I am starting to feel more human. The exhaustion has gone away and my concentration seems better."

"By day 5 I started exercising, and by day seven I cranked the intensity up from there. My skin and eyes look better, and the bloated stomach is starting to recede."

"It's day 15! I feeling so much better and loved ones can see the newly changes within me! I'm still experiencing insomnia and from time to time mood swings, however, the desire to drink is no longer consuming my thoughts."

"Had a slight craving today but that is going to happen, as long as I remember what I want and remind myself of all the crap alcohol has caused me I should be fine."

"I still have no desire to drink and I hope that lasts forever! The withdrawals are long gone, just insomnia."

Symptoms From Other Causes

"I am worried again as I read other people's withdrawal symptoms and how they seem to be over in a week but mine are still hanging on. I didn't have a lot of what people are posting about. No night sweats, tremors, or throwing up. Not even insomnia, I am sleeping fine. Just stomach problems and anxiety mostly."

"First of all, I am exhausted all the time. I could easily sleep 12 hours a night and still feel tired the next morning. Second, I have lost all ability to concentrate or follow a logical train of thought. Finally, I have moments of complete and utter anxiety. I have been sober in the past and I don't recall ever being so tired."

"I still feel really anxious and panicky and confused sometimes, especially in public. Is this normal, 19 days in?"

"I am now on day 19 and it's getting easier. The headaches are slowly going away. "

"At the end of today, it will be day 20. I am feeling better than I have in a while, a long while. I still have a few side effects like sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability, and I crave sweets all the time."

"I was feeling great having got over the nausea, shaking etc. within the first week but now on 21 days I am beginning to have what I can only describe as partial withdrawals all over again. Weak at the knees, cold sweats and feeling anxious. It comes and goes every few hours and only lasts for an hour or so but afterwards I feel exhausted and have to sit down and rest. After 21 days I did not expect this to happen."

If you're continuing to suffer physical symptoms after two weeks of abstinence from alcohol, you need to consult with your healthcare provider. Your symptoms could be caused by other conditions or illnesses.


Week Four

In the fourth week of abstinence from alcohol, the benefits keep piling up, according to the reports of those who remained sober for more than three weeks.

Freedom, Weight Loss, Happiness

"Now on day 24 and the thing that is most holding me back, I wish I could sleep if only for a few hours. The good news, bloated stomach has gone along with 10 pounds in weight."

"It's day 25 for me and I hope it helps someone to know the physical stuff will pass. I had a lot of odd symptoms and memory loss etc. but have noticed a definite improvement in the past week. I still crave alcohol but it's more the mental side now."

"My headache went away last Wednesday and I have been sleeping well the last few nights. I feel fantastic."

"Today is day 26 and I feel great. To all those that are ready to give up because of withdrawals, hang in there! It does get better."

"I am now on Day 27, I still feel a bit tired and stomach is a bit crampy but I do feel heaps better. I feel more happy and relaxed now."

"I'm 27 days in and clear headed with no more fuzziness. No more ritual and control, only freedom. My skin is looking fresher and less red and blotchy. The power of being sober is almost overwhelming and calming, a new me, like the me of 35 years ago only a lot older on the outside but feeling sunny on the inside."

"Day 28 and quite relieved to say that I am still sober. Some days are like riding a rollercoaster, up, down, up and down."

"Each day better than yesterday."

"Day 28 now and it feels great to be sober. I know I have a long way to go but can sleep tonight knowing I didn't have a drink yesterday and I haven't had one today and I will pray tonight that I don't have one tomorrow."


Day 30 and Beyond

After 30 days of sobriety, any physical withdrawal symptoms should be well in the past, with the remaining battle to maintain abstinence and recovery.

It is important at this stage for those who want to remain sober to learn how to develop a healthy lifestyle that does not including drinking.

The cravings and the urge to drink do not suddenly disappear after 30 days of abstinence. Quitting drinking alone may help you return to better health, but for many, it takes work to remain sober and not have a relapse, as you'll see in the experiences shared below.

Better Blood Pressure, Fewer Cravings

"I saw the doctor on day 2, and my blood pressure was 160/110. I saw him again on day 30, and my BP was 122/80, and I'd lost 7 pounds. Now my biggest struggle is just staying away from the first drink, but the more days that go by without it the less I feel like having it."

"Now, with hard work and vigilance, I am pleased to be getting more sober time in. I am exercising more and starting to decrease the number of herbs and vitamins I have been taking daily."

"I can't remember the last month. I basically can't remember detox, conversations, anything! Apparently I slept a lot and did not eat (I lost 10 lbs). In fact, I am still forgetting things. I am trying to cope. This involves a lot of sticky notes."

"I've had severe symptoms of fatigue. Unlike most of you, I have had no problems with sleeping; just the opposite, can't seem to wake up. No energy at all, very unlike me."

"Today is day 30 for me! I still suffer from mood swings and wooziness from time to time, but my new sober friends assure me that this will clear up in time."

"It is day 30 for me. I still have cravings but they seem to be getting weaker. Weekends are the most difficult to not drink as I would drink continuously on weekends. When I have cravings to drink I resist them by thinking about the all of the bad things alcohol did to me. "

"I am feeling better each day goes by. I am also very happy I am able to stay sober, I never thought I would be able to do it. Cravings come and go, but the belief in God and prayers have helped me stay strong and sober."

Day 36

"Well, what I didn't know, was all of the side effects. I have gone through racing heartbeats, sweats, shakes, crying, depression, rage, panic attacks and non-stop insomnia. Now at day 36 I am fatigued all day. No desire to drink but when will I feel energy again?"

Day 49

"I am going on 7 weeks of being sober and I could not be any happier."

Day 50

"Today is day 50 for me, last week I was a holiday. Several times, I thought, well I will have a drink tonight, and then I remembered the pain and it kept me straight."

Day 53

"I am on day 53 of sobriety and I don't remember ever feeling so incredible. I wake up looking forward to the day. I sleep through the night and work out every morning. It's a wonderful feeling to be sober!"

Day 62

"Day 62, and I feel like I am getting stronger every day. Things that I have noticed since I have stopped drinking are: better thinking/ judgment, anxiety is a lot better, skin is looking better, and I definitely have better mornings."

Day 63

"Day 63 sober. This time, I want to stay sober, but the cravings have been so bad this week. I'm not sure why it all seems to hit me at once, problems with family, work etc. I drove down the street on my way to my old liquor stop, but something told me to go the other way and just go straight home. So yeah I made it and I'll wake up sober again."

Day 70

"Well I know I still have 15 minutes before I can celebrate my 70th day of sobriety but I can't wait. I had so many emotional twists this week I could have easily found an excuse to jump off the wagon. But I can proudly hold my head high and say I didn't need any alcohol to handle my situations. I will say while some points this week I have never felt happier and more complete as a woman. There were others that made me face harsh realities. Through these highs and lows I learned I don't need alcohol to cope with disappointment."

Day 210

"It's been nearly seven months and I haven't touched a drop. I'm back working, my skin's cleared up, and I've cleaned up the mess I've made of my life. The sad truth is I miss drinking, even after all the hell it has caused. But to go back will be my death."

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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