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Updated on August 21, 2023
6 min read

Ways to Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal & Treatment

What to Expect During Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a symptom of alcohol addiction. It can occur if you suddenly stop drinking after prolonged heavy alcohol use or alcohol abuse. 

For men, heavy drinking means consuming more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 per week. For women, it refers to more than 3 drinks per day or more than 7 per week.6

You may also experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms from a significant reduction in alcohol intake.2 Fortunately, there are ways to help you manage these symptoms.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary greatly among different people. Most alcohol withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and harmful.

However, some symptoms, like delirium tremens, are potentially life-threatening conditions. Common symptoms of AWS include:3

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Severe confusion
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Brain fog
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Fever
  • Sweatiness or clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations 

Mild symptoms generally show within just a few hours after the last alcoholic drink. More significant symptoms begin 6 to 12 hours after the last drink.9


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12 Ways to Cope With Alcohol Withdrawal

Not only are alcohol withdrawal symptoms painful, but they can also cause a potential relapse. It’s important to seek guidance and medical attention when you need it.

However, coping skills and techniques can help you get through withdrawal symptoms. Here are 12 ways to manage alcohol withdrawal.

1. Know That You’re Not Alone

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in experiencing alcohol withdrawal. In 2000, 226,000 people were discharged from short-stay hospitals after being treated for alcohol withdrawal-related diagnoses.5 

These diagnoses included alcohol withdrawal, alcohol withdrawal delirium, and alcohol withdrawal hallucinosis.5 Not everyone with alcohol withdrawal symptoms seeks help. The numbers are likely higher than reported.

Only 10 to 20 percent of people with alcohol withdrawal are treated as inpatients. In other words, upwards of 2 million Americans may have alcohol withdrawal symptoms each year.5

2. Drink Water

Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body. Drinking heavily can cause sweating, urinating, and even vomiting, worsening dehydration.

Drink 8 or more cups of water to stay hydrated. Water can help you:

  • Replenish your body
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Flush out toxins
  • Reduce inflammation-induced headaches

3. Get Enough Electrolytes

Electrolytes help treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms because they keep you hydrated and energized. They can help reduce certain symptoms like:

  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue 

You can find electrolytes in sports drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte.11 You can also get electrolytes from many foods and beverages such as bouillon soup, coconut water, and bananas.4,8

Pedialyte has twice the electrolytes as other popular sports drinks. Plus, it has two times less sugar. This is ideal because sugar can worsen hangover symptoms like dehydration.11

4. Take Pain Relievers

Taking common pain relievers as directed can help relieve withdrawal symptoms like headaches. Common pain reliever options include:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Don’t take more pain relievers than is prescribed or directed on the bottle. Also, don’t take acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can have a toxic effect on your liver.1

5. Restore Lost Nutrients

Heavy alcohol use can take a toll on your body and deplete you of necessary nutrients. 

Supplementing your diet with vitamins and zinc may be linked to less severe hangovers.1

6. Rest

If you’re going through alcohol withdrawal, your body is likely overwhelmed. The more rest you get, the better chance your body will recover quickly.

7. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health

Alcohol withdrawal can also trigger psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. It’s crucial to manage your mental health during this time, especially if you’re struggling with co-occurring mental health conditions.

Practice self-care to help ease anxiety and depression. This can include:7

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massages
  • Stress relieving activities
  • Therapy or counseling

8. Watch Out for Other Health Issues

Long-term effects of alcohol abuse, beyond alcohol withdrawal, include:7

9. Take Care of Yourself

Frequently drinking too much alcohol can hurt your immune system. Taking care of your physical and mental health is critical in combating AWS.

10. Talk to Other People in Your Situation

Remember that other people are living with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Look for support groups in your area to connect with people on similar journeys.

Connect with people who have recovered and can offer personal advice. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has many toll-free numbers and provides people willing to talk with you about alcohol issues and solutions.

11. Lean on Your Support Network

Seek support from friends and family while you recover. Having people around to help you tolerate the symptoms of AWS can help you feel less alone. A strong support network can also hold you accountable for recovery. 

12. Don’t Quit Drinking Alone

White-knuckling, or trying to quit alcohol use alone, can be dangerous. Self-detox is associated with an increased risk of relapse and, in severe cases, death.

Some risks of white-knuckling include:

  • Failure to quit or cut back, which can ultimately lead to health problems or addiction
  • Personal and professional relationship issues
  • Worsening alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Relapse during alcohol detox
  • Death

Addiction and Substance Abuse Treatment

You can receive treatment for addiction at various treatment centers. However, people respond differently, so finding the right treatment is essential.

Consider talking to a healthcare professional or an addiction specialist to understand the pros and cons of addiction treatment. Available treatment options include:


Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers provide you with both medical doctors and mental health professionals throughout treatment. Inpatient rehab may be a safer option if you have severe symptoms.


Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), traditional counseling, and couples or family therapy can help you make sense of triggers that make you want to drink. A therapist can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to better manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Support Groups

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) allow you to meet others who have recovered from alcoholism and are also experiencing AWS.10 

AA is recognized as one of the most effective sobriety support programs for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD). The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. And remember, if you want to get sober, the first thing you have to do is to stop drinking.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Certain medications can help you stop or cut back on alcohol consumption. This can help make the detox process more manageable. Talk to your doctor about whether or not MAT is right for you in your alcohol detox journey.


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Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that can happen when you suddenly stop drinking after prolonged heavy alcohol use. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be fatal and require immediate medical attention.

The best way to avoid AWS is to seek professional help. They can help you manage physical symptoms while providing medical supervision.

Also, coping strategies and techniques can help you manage withdrawal symptoms better. Stay healthy and manage your withdrawal symptoms in a supportive environment.

Updated on August 21, 2023
11 sources cited
Updated on August 21, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. 7 Steps to Cure Your Hangover.” Harvard Health, 2020.
  2. Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Health, 2019.
  3. Alcohol Withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Bananas.” The Nutrition Source, 2021.
  5. Bayard et al. “Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.” American Family Physician, 2004.
  6. Drinking Levels Defined.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  7. Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.
  8. Kacie Vavrek. “Is Coconut Water Healthy?” Ohio State Medical Center, 2019.
  9. Newman, R. K. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  10. News Center. “Alcoholics Anonymous Most Effective Path to Alcohol Abstinence.” News Center.
  11. Pedialyte: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & Pill Images.” RxList, RxList, 2021.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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