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How to Treat the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can ease discomfort and prevent more serious symptoms from developing. Frequently, patients with mild symptoms can be treated on an outpatient basis.


  • Step 1: Stop drinking Stop drinking. You can't treat alcohol dependence while continuing to drink. Symptoms of withdrawal will appear between six and 48 hours after alcohol consumption has ceased.
  • Step 2: Treat DTs Seek a doctor's care to treat delerium tremens, or DTs, pharmacologically. Typically, benzodiazepines are prescribed to treat such symptoms as anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, and are the most commonly prescribed treatment for alcohol withdrawal.
  • Step 3: Treat hallucinations Treat hallucinations associated with alcohol withdrawal with inpatient therapy. A doctor may also choose to treat these by prescribing anti-psychotic medications.
  • TIP: Anti-psychotic drugs are typically administered if a patient is unresponsive to benzodiazepines.
  • Step 4: Alter your diet Eat a high-calorie, high-carbohydrate diet. Supplement your diet with multivitamins and maintain your body's water and electrolyte balance with water and sports drinks.
  • Step 5: Treat depression Take antidepressant medication to treat depression that commonly occurs after detoxification.
  • Step 6: Take disulfiram Talk with your doctor about taking disulfiram, or Antabuse, to maintain sobriety. Disulfiram reacts with alcohol in the body, making a patient severely ill for 30 to 60 minutes after taking a drink.
  • Step 7: Seek follow-up treatment Seek follow-up treatment, such as psychiatric help in the form of counseling, or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to continue to be alcohol-free and never to have to experience withdrawal symptoms again.
  • FACT: Chronic alcohol abuse can cause brain damage.

You Will Need

  • Abstinence
  • Doctor
  • High-calorie
  • high-carbohydrate diet
  • Water and sports drinks
  • Follow-up treatment

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