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Can You Die From Alcohol Withdrawal?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe and can sometimes be life-threatening. Acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome can usually be managed until the symptoms subside. Treatment can help with alcohol addiction.

Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. However, life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal are rare and management of symptoms at an inpatient alcohol detox center can help.

The safest way to detox from alcohol is to visit a certified medical detox center. Here, a team of healthcare providers will monitor you around the clock and provide medical supervision.

Stopping alcohol intake cold turkey and trying to detox alone is not safe.

People who drink alcohol in large amounts, such as through binge drinking or due to an alcohol use disorder, are at an even higher risk for serious symptoms of withdrawal.

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Life-Threatening?

Certain symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Everyone who goes through withdrawal does not experience these serious side effects.

The withdrawal process is somewhat unpredictable. But certain risk factors can raise the chances of serious symptoms developing.

These risk factors include:

  • old age: older people have a higher risk of complications during withdrawal
  • poor overall health/existing health concerns like liver disease
  • obesity: people with more body fat tend to experience worse withdrawal symptoms
  • past history of serious withdrawal symptoms
  • history of prolonged heavy drinking

Serious And Life-Threatening Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are simply uncomfortable, while others are more serious.

Common symptoms of serious withdrawal may include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and heart arrhythmias, strong alcohol cravings, and disorientation.

Other very dangerous withdrawal symptoms are detailed below.


Auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations are all possible during severe cases of alcohol withdrawal.

Hallucinations are one of the most dangerous symptoms of withdrawal because they can cause a person to act erratically or put themselves in danger.

Hallucinations tend to subside after a few days and don’t usually indicate a more serious medical condition.

Withdrawal Seizures

Withdrawal seizures are one of the most dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Seizures during withdrawal can be unpredictable and may result in death.

Medical care is essential to prevent seizures during alcohol withdrawal. Outpatient treatment may not be enough during detox to keep a person safe.

Delirium Tremens

When severe symptoms like hallucinations, tremors, confusion, and seizures develop, this is usually labeled as delirium tremens, or “DTs”.

Delirium tremens refers to a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It usually only develops in people who have had particularly heavy alcohol consumption and/or have other health issues.

Delirium tremens can start any time during alcohol withdrawal, but it usually begins within 12 to 48 hours after the last drink and lasts for three days or more.

How To Safely Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The best way to safely manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms is to visit an inpatient detox center. Here, you will have access to medical supervision and a seamless transition into rehab at a treatment center.

Supportive Care

Supportive care during alcohol detox includes medical monitoring, a healthy diet, vitamins and supplements, plenty of hydration, and the management of specific symptoms.

Unless you are experiencing very mild withdrawal symptoms and you have a very supportive home environment, outpatient detox is not recommended.

Medications For Alcohol Dependence

Some medications can help to ease symptoms and bring the body into balance during detox. Benzodiazepines are one of the most common medications given during alcohol detox.

Benzodiazepines act on neurotransmitters in the central nervous system to reduce anxiety, prevent seizures, and ease pain.

Other medications such as naltrexone may be used later in addiction treatment for alcohol. Naltrexone can prevent cravings for alcohol, reducing the risk of relapse.

Treatment Options For Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol addiction is a serious and life-threatening substance use disorder. During addiction, drinking alcohol is no less dangerous than using other drugs like opioids.

If you or a loved one has an alcohol dependence, you need to seek professional addiction treatment.

Treatment at a certified inpatient treatment center includes elements such as:

  • alcohol detox
  • mental health support from psychiatry specialists
  • healthy diet
  • counseling and support groups
  • supervision from medical professionals

Find Drug And Alcohol Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is one of the top inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers on the east coast.

Located in Canton, MA, we offer curated treatment plans to meet the needs of our clients. We care for everyone from young adults to elderly people with addiction.

Are you ready to put your addiction problems in the past? Call our helpline today to chat with an addiction specialist and learn more about our rehab programs.

Written by
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team

©2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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