Alcohol withdrawal affects everyone differently. The withdrawal of alcohol depends on how long the drinking problem has occurred and how much alcohol has been consumed. Alcohol withdrawal in women can manifest differently than in men. The withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe for both men and women, but when they are severe, they can be deadly.
Men and women process alcohol in the body differently. This is why alcohol withdrawal will differ as well. The effects of alcoholism have detrimental health effects on people regardless of what sex they are. Breaking the cycle of alcohol addiction is easier said than done—it almost always requires a professional women’s alcohol addiction treatment program. Those addicted to alcohol shouldn’t try to do it on their own. A professional treatment center like Women’s Recovery in Colorado will treat the stages of alcohol withdrawal in women and tailor treatment to the individual.
Call Women’s Recovery at 833.754.0554 for more information about alcohol withdrawal in women and how to treat it.
Studying Alcohol Withdrawal in Women
It wasn’t until the 1980s that research began on women experiencing alcoholism. Prior treatments and studies were geared toward men alone, but the same strategies did not work for women. The shared characteristics and social issues women face offer insight into the differences between women and men when considering alcoholism and treatment. Consider the following:
- Women tend to develop alcohol problems more quickly than men and need a shorter period of alcohol consumption to become reliant on alcohol.
- Women experience more physical withdrawal symptoms like tremors, sweats, nausea, and headaches during alcohol withdrawal than men do when abstaining from alcohol.
- Alcoholism in women is often related to underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety which can require additional treatment methods for successful long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.
- Social stigma surrounding alcoholism affects women differently than it does men – oftentimes leading to feelings of guilt or shame that increase the intensity of their drinking problem and make it harder for them to seek help for their addiction.
While there is a greater understanding of gender differences when it comes to alcohol withdrawal, still to this day, women are less likely to get the help they need.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical dependence develops for both men and women when they have been drinking heavily for a prolonged time. When abstaining from booze, they will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Each individual will experience symptoms differently based on many variables. The symptoms come in stages. The American Family Physician Association says alcohol withdrawal will occur between 6-24 hours after the last drink. Here are some of the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms that men and women will experience:
- Inability to sleep
- Tremors in the hands
- Delirium tremens (DTs) or seizures
- Extreme anxiety
- Cravings for alcohol
Quitting alcohol after prolonged and heavy use should never be attempted without professional help. This includes the detox process, but it should also include rehabilitation and aftercare.
Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal for Women
It is possible to die from alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome varies in its intensity. There are three stages of severity based on how dependent a person is on ethanol, each with a range of symptoms.
Stage 1 – Mild
- Anxiety or depression
- Inability to sleep
- Pain in the stomach
- Unclear thinking
- Heart palpitations
Stage 2 – Moderate
- An increase in blood pressure
- Increase in body temperature and breathing
- Heartbeat can become irregular
- Delirium or inability to think properly
- Excessive sweating
- Heightened mood swings
Stage 3 – Severe
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
- High fever
- Severe confusion
- High levels of agitation
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Men will often be able to get past the detox phase faster than women. Still, everyone’s body is different, and it ultimately depends on how an individual metabolizes alcohol. The worst day of alcohol withdrawal seems to be the first day. Here is the general timeline in stages and the associated withdrawal symptoms:
- Usually begins about 8 hours after the last drink
- An onset of abdominal pain
- Begins 24-72 hours after the last drink
- An increase in blood pressure and body temperate
- Heart rate can become erratic
- Mental confusion
- Occurs 72+ hours after the last drink.
- Potential seizures
Physical symptoms will decrease between 5-7 days. Past the first week, there will be psychological symptoms. Before this time, delirium tremens, a potentially deadly symptom of alcohol withdrawal, is a concern.
The Danger of Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens is a serious alcohol withdrawal symptom that can be deadly if left untreated. It is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that affects some alcohol-dependent people and is marked by confusion, rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, hallucinations, and seizures.
Women may be more at risk for alcohol withdrawal and delirium tremens than men. The alcohol withdrawal timeline for women is often longer and more intense than that of men. This means that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last longer, and alcohol detox can take longer.
Alcohol detox will involve medications, such as benzodiazepines, that mitigate delirium tremens and treat uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms such as nausea, dehydration, seizures, and insomnia. The issue with using benzodiazepines for detox is that it’s addictive. Some may choose to take the route of tapering off. To prevent delirium tremens, another option is to slowly taper off alcohol while being supervised within a clinic setting. Alcohol can gradually be weaned out of the system so the brain can slowly adapt to the changes of the person no longer drinking.
Contact Women’s Recovery Today
If you or a loved one need help battling alcohol addiction or to mitigate the withdrawals from alcohol, look no further than Women’s Recovery. Our professional outpatient treatment programs and compassionate, experienced addiction treatment staff are ready to help you move toward a life of sobriety. Call 833.754.0554 or contact us online to get started today.