February 23, 2023 February 23, 2023
You had a late night out at the bar, and the next morning your head is pounding and you are feeling awful. Is a hangover alcohol withdrawal? Knowing the difference between a hangover and alcohol withdrawal can give you important insights into the way alcohol is affecting your body.
If you drink, you most likely have experienced the nasty after-effects of too much alcohol. You may have even wondered, “is a hangover alcohol withdrawal?” You know the feeling: you wake up after a night of drinking and wish you could just go right back to sleep. Your head is pounding, your stomach is churning, and you feel anxious, irritable and depressed. You feel miserable with what seems like a serious hangover, and there’s not much you can do except wait it out while the alcohol clears your system.
But what if what you think is a hangover is actually alcohol withdrawal? Alcohol withdrawal can present with similar symptoms as a hangover, but has very different causes. Understanding if your symptoms are a hangover or withdrawal can help you learn whether your body has formed a physical dependence on alcohol.
Hangover vs. Withdrawal
Because hangovers and alcohol withdrawal have some overlapping symptoms, people may be confused as to whether these are actually the same condition. However, there are distinctive causes and characteristics of each state that clearly separate them.
What is a hangover?
A hangover is a specific and direct reaction the body has to the toxic effects of too much alcohol. These uncomfortable impacts of a hangover include:
- Increased urination, sweating, and stomach upset, which causes dehydration and imbalanced levels of electrolytes
- Irritation of the stomach and intestines that can cause pain and stomach troubles
- Widening of the blood vessels, which can cause headaches
- Disturbed sleep and body temperature levels
- Low blood sugar, which contributes to moodiness, fatigue and weakness
There are other factors that can contribute to a bad hangover, such as the type of alcohol consumed, or if you have been smoking or using other drugs in combination with drinking. Some people are prone to “hangxiety,” a feeling of anxiousness and distress during their hangover, which is often preceded by stressful life events or underlying guilt, and more common for those with shy or anxious personalities.
What is alcohol withdrawal?
Unlike a hangover where the negative effects are caused by too much alcohol, alcohol withdrawal is caused when a physical dependency on alcohol has formed and the body is not receiving enough alcohol to satisfy its need. While people often think this only applies to drinkers who consume alcohol on a daily basis, you can suffer withdrawal even if you don’t drink every day. For example, binge drinkers may also show signs of withdrawal which they often confuse with having a hangover
Alcohol acts as a central nervous system depressant, meaning that the effects of alcohol slow down the body. This is obvious in some of the more common effects of alcohol intoxication, such as stumbling, slurred speech, memory loss and blackouts. If alcohol is regularly used, over time the central nervous system recalibrates to try and maintain alertness despite the presence of alcohol.
When someone abruptly stops drinking, the central nervous system has not had time to adjust, and therefore remains in a heightened state. This is what causes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms generally occur over a timeline, beginning about six hours after the last drink, and lasting up to three days.
CAN’T QUIT DRINKING – CLICK HERE FOR HELP
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
The initial symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are what people may confuse with a hangover. These symptoms begin within 6-12 hours of your last drink, and include things like:
- Shaky hands
- Nausea and vomiting
As time goes on, the potential for more serious symptoms of withdrawal arises. From 12-48 hours after your last drink, you may experience seizures or hallucinations. 48-72 hours after quitting alcohol, the condition known as delirium tremens, or DT, may begin, resulting in symptoms like:
- Racing heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Profuse sweating
- Vivid hallucinations and delusions
The severity of these symptoms can be life-threatening, and so anyone who has developed a physical dependence on alcohol must undergo detox under the supervision and care of medical professionals. This ensures that you are as comfortable as possible during the detox process, and that your symptoms are safely and consistently monitored and treated.
Are hangovers a form of withdrawal?
Though hangovers and the early stage of alcohol withdrawal share some similar symptoms, these are two separate conditions. A hangover is always related to the body’s response to the toxicity of alcohol, while withdrawal is driven by the body’s physical dependence on alcohol and is caused by the altered state of the central nervous system in response to regular intake of alcohol. Hangovers tend to pass within 24 hours, while alcohol withdrawal can take much longer.
Do You Have an Alcohol Addiction?
You may be telling yourself that you don’t drink enough to have formed an alcohol addiction. However, not all people need to drink the same amount or at the same frequency to become dependent on alcohol.
Generally, drinking within suggested limits will reduce the risk of addiction. For men, this is no more than four drinks per day, and no more than 14 drinks per week; for women, this is no more than three drinks per day, and no more than 7 drinks per week. The size of the drinks are determined by the type of alcohol being consumed.
However, if you are regularly drinking in excess of these amounts, or you have other risk factors such as a family history of alcohol addiction, this can raise the possibility of developing an alcohol dependence. Some common signs of addiction include:
- Regular cravings for alcohol
- Drinking at unusual or inappropriate times, like in the morning or before driving
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed hobbies or relationships
- Heightened feelings of loneliness
- Guilt or shame
- Professional or legal challenges related to drinking
- Symptoms of withdrawal when not consuming alcohol
People who have developed an addiction to alcohol need professional treatment, including medically-assisted detox, in order to safely and successfully overcome dependency.
What Does Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Include?
Making the decision to seek treatment for alcohol addiction is an incredibly important step towards a long-term recovery. People who have developed a physical dependency on alcohol will first go through a medically-supervised detox process in order to wean the body off of alcohol and safely recalibrate the central nervous system. The detox process may include the use of medications or other medical interventions based on the body’s level of dependency, and will aim to make you as comfortable as possible.
Following detox, psychotherapy like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is needed in order to help identify root causes of alcohol abuse and transform problematic patterns of thought and behaviour in order to “rewire” the brain away from addiction. This can be undertaken in an individual or group setting, or both. Therapists will likely also recommend wellness practices such as yoga, meditation, or exercise to help rehabilitate the body and foster a healthy mind-body connection.
Living Life Free from Alcohol with The Dawn
At The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab – an international alcohol rehab in Thailand, we offer a Signature Addiction Programme for individuals suffering from substance use disorders; behavioural addictions and co-occurring disorders. The fundamental objective of our programme is for clients to achieve and maintain long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with life’s challenges, thereby extinguishing the desire to use again.
24 Hour Medical Support and Onsite Detox
If you are looking for safe alcohol detox Thailand, The Dawn is able to offer medically-assisted detox for moderate-case clients. Our 24 hour onsite professional nursing team will carefully monitor the client throughout this process under the supervision of our psychiatrist, who will prescribe medication as necessary to ease withdrawal symptoms. If an emergency need arises, clients will immediately be admitted to a nearby hospital.
Internationally Accredited Thailand Alcohol Rehab
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International, The Dawn offers tailormade treatment plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.
Our centre is conveniently located just outside the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a one-hour flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. At our tranquil riverfront property, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, you are completely removed from your triggers – the people, places and things that contribute to your drinking – and immersed in a safe and soothing environment.
If you are concerned about your drinking and want to make a change, call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help.
About the Author
John A. Smith is a Senior Psychotherapist at The Dawn and an internationally accredited Addiction Treatment Professional (ISSUP), Certified Life and NLP Coach. He is highly experienced in working with young adults and utilises a range of evidence-based therapies, including SMART Recovery, to help his clients achieve their goals.
Overlap exists between hangover and the symptoms of mild alcohol with- drawal (AW), leading to the assertion that hangover is a manifestation of mild withdrawal. Hangovers, how- ever, may occur after a single bout of drinking, whereas withdrawal occurs usually after multiple, repeated bouts.What is the most serious withdrawal symptom associated with alcoholism? ›
The most severe manifestations of withdrawal include delirium tremens, hallucinations, and seizures. These manifestations result from alcohol-induced imbalances in the brain chemistry that cause excessive neuronal activity if the alcohol is withheld.What are the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol dependence? ›
- Hand tremors ('the shakes')
- A pulse rate above 100 beats per minute.
- Loss of appetite.
A hangover occurs when a person drinks too much in one sitting, while a withdrawal is caused when a person with alcohol use disorder decreases their intake or stops drinking abruptly. Excessive drinking can irritate the stomach lining, cause dehydration, and inflammatory response in the body.Is it hangxiety or withdrawal? ›
Hangxiety occurs when the sedative effects of alcohol begin wearing off, causing withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced by people dependent on alcohol. When drinking alcohol, normal brain functionality is disrupted, and an excess of “feel-good” chemicals (like endorphins) are released.How long do you have to drink before you have withdrawal symptoms? ›
Symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.What happens on day 4 of no alcohol? ›
However, by day 4 without alcohol, most people will have got beyond any initial withdrawal symptoms. All the alcohol will have left your system by now, and your body will begin to bounce back. If you're not as focused on alcohol, you may be eating better, drinking water, moving more, and perhaps sleeping more deeply.What is considered a heavy drinker? ›
What do you mean by heavy drinking? For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.Which of the following can be used in treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms? ›
- Benzodiazepines. Used to treat panic, anxiety, and to control certain types of seizures, benzodiazepines are a class of sedative medications. ...
- Anticonvulsants. ...
- Barbiturates. ...
- Disulfiram (Antabuse) ...
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol, Revia) ...
- Acamprosate (Campral)
After two weeks off alcohol, you will continue to reap the benefits of better sleep and hydration. As alcohol is an irritant to the stomach lining, after a fortnight you will also see a reduction in symptoms such as reflux where the stomach acid burns your throat.
Symptoms may start 12-72 hours after a person's last drink and last up to 7-10 days. Initial symptoms may include disorientation and restlessness, trouble concentrating, and hypersensitivity to light, but may progress to symptoms such as shakes and tremors, agitation, nightmares, and hallucinations.What are rare withdrawal symptoms? ›
In rare cases, severe symptoms of withdrawal (called delirium tremens, or DTs) can occur. Symptoms of delirium tremens may include seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations), confusion and irritability, severe trembling, and seizures.What does an alcoholic hangover feel like? ›
A hangover refers to a set of symptoms that occur as a consequence of drinking too much. Typical symptoms include fatigue, weakness, thirst, headache, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, irritability, sweating, and increased blood pressure.What feels like a hangover but isn t? ›
Viral Illness. The onset of a viral illness known as the “prodromal period” may mimic feeling hungover without drinking. This is usually a short period before the actual symptoms of the viral illness appear. This usually occurs with viruses like mononucleosis, influenza, common colds, and gastrointestinal illness.How many drinks equal a hangover? ›
For men, a dose of "five to seven standard cocktails" consumed over a four-to-six-hour period, is "almost always followed by hangover symptoms." For women, the dose is three to five drinks.How long does anxiety last when you quit drinking? ›
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, you can experience anxiety symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal that last approximately 3-7 days, with the first 48 hours being the most difficult. Some people can experience anxiety symptoms that last longer than 7 days.Why do I get anxiety for days after drinking? ›
Alcohol has an effect on brain chemistry - it can induce panic because of its effects on GABA, a chemical in the brain that normally has a relaxing effect. Small amounts of alcohol can stimulate GABA and cause feelings of relaxation, but heavy drinking can deplete GABA, causing increased tension and feelings of panic.How do you snap out of Hangxiety? ›
- Rehydrate: drink lots of water and nutrient enhancing drinks.
- Eat a light meal: eat a meal that's easy to digest and avoid greasy, processed foods.
- Get some rest: If you're able to, get some sleep and give yourself a chance to relax.
The duration of physical withdrawal is typically three to five days; however, emotional withdrawal can be much longer. Some symptoms can be present for many months. Withdrawal symptoms can range widely and include depression, anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, and even suicidal thoughts or death.What are 4 of the withdrawal symptoms? ›
- not being able to sleep.
- changing moods.
- aches and pains.
The first step is often to consult your primary care doctor or GP. Your doctor can evaluate your drinking patterns, diagnose any co-occurring disorders, assess your overall health, and offer treatment referrals. They may even be able to prescribe medication to help you quit.What is the hardest day when you quit drinking? ›
After One Day: The first day is always the hardest, but it's also an important milestone. After 24 hours without alcohol, your body will start to detoxify and you may experience withdrawal symptoms. 1 It's important to remember that they are only temporary and will usually subside within a few days.How do you feel when you suddenly stop drinking? ›
When you abruptly stop drinking, your body is deprived of the effects of alcohol and requires time to adjust to functioning without it. This adjustment period causes the painful side effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as shakes, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety.Is 3 days without alcohol enough? ›
Your liver needs at least 48 hours without alcohol to repair itself. Cutting back your daily intake won't help your liver. The 2 days have to be alcohol-free and it's important they are 'consecutive'.What are the 3 types of alcoholic? ›
In chemistry, an alcohol exists when a hydroxyl group, a pair of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, replaces the hydrogen atom in a hydrocarbon. Alcohols bind with other atoms to create secondary alcohols. These secondary alcohols are the three types of alcohol that humans use every day: methanol, isopropanol, and ethanol.What are the 4 types of drinker? ›
- Social drinking. To date, nearly all the research on drinking motives has been done on teens and young adults. ...
- Drinking to conform. ...
- Drinking for enhancement. ...
- Drinking to cope.
So, now on to the all-important question, which alcohol is easiest on the liver? The quick answer is, none of them. The reason is that the main liver-damaging ingredient in all types of alcohol is ethanol. It doesn't matter which alcohol you chose, be it weak beer or grain alcohol.What are three things that can help with withdrawal symptoms? ›
- Attend a medical detox program. ...
- Exercise regularly. ...
- Eat balanced and nutritious meals. ...
- Stay hydrated. ...
- Stick to a structured sleep schedule. ...
- Join a support group.
The most crucial step for beginning treatment for alcoholic liver disorder (ALD is to quit drinking completely. Unfortunately, because the body has become dependent on alcohol, the sudden cessation of alcohol may cause painful withdrawal symptoms.Why do we give thiamine to alcoholics? ›
Thiamine deficiency is particularly important because it can exacerbate many of the other processes by which alcohol induces brain injury, as described in other articles in this issue of Alcohol Research & Health.
Severe drinking may require three months to a year to fully regenerate the liver to its original capacity and functionality. Over time, the liver can heal itself from damages caused by alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis. Unfortunately, when it comes to the scars of cirrhosis, these damages are irreversible.What can I drink instead of alcohol? ›
- Soda and fresh lime. Proof that simple is still the best.
- Berries in iced water. This summery drink will keep you refreshed and revitalised.
- Kombucha. ...
- Virgin bloody Mary. ...
- Virgin Mojito. ...
- Half soda/half cranberry juice and muddled lime. ...
- Soda and fresh fruit. ...
If you stop drinking alcohol for 2 weeks, your liver should return to normal.What happens after 3 days of no alcohol? ›
3 – 7 days
In this time frame, symptoms may have reached their peak and could be gradually improving. You may start to feel relief, but still experience anxiety, trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, mental fatigue and alcohol cravings. It's normal for these symptoms to persist after one week sober.
Quitting drinking (safely) may improve or reverse some of alcohol's negative effects on your physical health, including improving or reversing cognitive damage, lowering blood pressure, reversing some forms of alcohol-related liver injury, and reducing the risk of certain cancers each year you're sober.Is it good to just stop drinking? ›
But, as drinking even at low levels increases the risk of these diseases, deciding to stop drinking completely is a positive choice. Drinking alcohol also causes other long-term health problems. Stopping drinking lowers the risk of: Heart disease, stroke10 and high blood pressure.What medication is best for withdrawal? ›
Buprenorphine is the best opioid medication for management of moderate to severe opioid withdrawal. It alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings.What are the levels of withdrawal? ›
Score: 5- 1 2 = mild; 1 3-24 = moderate; 25-36 = moderately severe; more than 36 = severe withdrawal This version may be copied and used clinically.How long does detox flu last? ›
Typically, the uncomfortable symptoms of detoxing pass within a few days to a week, but there's no need to suffer one second longer than necessary.Why do I feel weird 2 days after drinking? ›
For example, the liver will be overworking to process alcohol, you'll be tired from little and/or poor quality sleep, you're likely to be urinating more as alcohol is a diuretic, leaving you dehydrated and headache-y – and any post-night out vomiting can irritate the stomach for several days. '
AKA typically occurs in people with chronic alcohol use disorder and people who binge drink, particularly after a bout of heavy drinking. Following a stretch of heavy drinking, people with AKA often cannot tolerate food for 1–3 days.
- Fill your water bottle. Sip water or fruit juice to prevent dehydration. ...
- Have a snack. Bland foods, such as toast and crackers, may boost your blood sugar and settle your stomach. ...
- Take a pain reliever. A standard dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever may ease your headache. ...
- Go back to bed.
Well, that's what I used to think, anyway, before I encountered the Phantom Hangover. What is the phantom hangover? It is a hangover when you haven't been drinking. It is waking up the night after other people have had fun, and feeling wretched in sympathy.What are weird hangover symptoms? ›
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Excessive thirst and dry mouth.
- Headaches and muscle aches.
- Nausea, vomiting or stomach pain.
- Poor or decreased sleep.
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound.
- Dizziness or a sense of the room spinning.
Sleep drunkenness is a casual term for confusional arousal, which is a type of parasomnia. A parasomnia is an unusual behavior that happens while you're asleep or just waking up. Confusional arousal is a problem with sleep inertia when your brain transitions between sleeping and waking up.What alcohol has the biggest hangover? ›
“Brandy has the highest amount, followed by dark alcohols like whiskey and red wine,” says Czarena Crofcheck, Ph. D, a food science professor at the University of Kentucky. “Their high levels of fusel alcohol make them much harder for the body to metabolize.”What drinks give you the biggest hangover? ›
Dark drinks, like red wine and bourbon, have more congeners than light ones and there are several studies to show that for a given level of blood alcohol, dark drinks produce worse hangovers.How many glasses of water should you drink for a hangover? ›
A good rule is to drink a glass of water — or another non-alcoholic beverage — between drinks and to have at least one big glass of water before going to sleep. Summary Drinking plenty of water can help reduce some of the main symptoms of hangovers, including thirst and headache.What is the root cause of hangover? ›
The main cause of a hangover is the effect of ethanol – the alcohol in your drinks. It's a toxic chemical that works in the body as a diuretic, which means it makes you pee more and you can become dehydrated as a result.What can cause withdrawal symptoms? ›
- Benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and other CNS depressants and sedatives.
- Heroin and prescription opioids.
- Cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin.
As a result, alcohol increases urination and excess loss of fluids. The mild dehydration that results likely contributes to hangover symptoms such as thirst, fatigue, and a headache. Disrupted sleep: People may fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but their sleep is fragmented, and they tend to wake up earlier.How long does a withdrawal take? ›
The precise duration of withdrawal is influenced by which substance someone used as well as the magnitude of their dependence on the substance. It may take days, weeks, and—in some cases—months to reach complete resolution of all withdrawal symptoms, depending on various factors and individual differences.What medication is taken for withdrawal? ›
Buprenorphine is the best opioid medication for management of moderate to severe opioid withdrawal. It alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings.How do you get rid of a hangover fast? ›
- Hydrate. Consuming alcohol causes dehydration by increasing urination. ...
- Sugar boost. Alcohol causes low blood sugar. ...
- Coffee. ...
- Multi-vitamin. ...
- Go to bed with an empty stomach. ...
- Potassium. ...
- Stop drinking. ...
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Drinking water, juice, broth and other non-alcohol beverages to reduce dehydration. Getting sleep to counteract fatigue. Taking antacids to help settle your stomach. Trying aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to help your headache or muscle ache.What are permanent withdrawal symptoms? ›
- Foggy thinking/trouble remembering.
- Urges and cravings.
- Irritability or hostility.
- Sleep disturbances—insomnia or vivid dreams.
- Issues with fine motor coordination.
- Stress sensitivity.
- Anxiety or panic.