Treat Alcohol Withdrawal

Treat Alcohol Withdrawal

It takes years of extreme and excessive abuse to create the neurochemical changes that result in alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms can vary from anxiety, sweating and nausea to headaches, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions. Clearly, it is a serious condition, and self-treatment is not advised. Inpatient detoxification–where the patient can be monitored and free from temptation to drink–is the most effective regimen.


1. Treat tremors with barbiturates. Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants; as such, they are effective in reducing seizures and other nervous symptoms. As a class of drugs, barbiturates are extremely dangerous in large doses and can themselves be habit forming. They are generally only available with a prescription.

2. Treat hallucination with benzodiazepines. This class of drugs has anticonvulsant properties, but the drugs can also help treat some of the more severe psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Chlordiazepoxide, taken over a 5 to 7 day period, is the most common “benzo” prescribed for alcohol withdrawal.

3. Take multivitamin supplements. Chances are that a long term alcoholic is also suffering from malnutrition. In addition to typical multivitamins, taking 100 mg. of thiamine and 1 mg. of folic acid (four times daily for at least two weeks) helps prevent alcohol withdrawal progressing into an even more serious brain disorder.

4. Drink a “hair of the dog.” An old home remedy for hangovers and alcohol withdraw is more alcohol. While it’s true drinking some alcohol can help reduce some acute withdrawal symptoms, it’s generally considered counterproductive to do so without careful monitoring to limit dosage. With other pharmaceutical treatment available, alcohol as a treatment for alcohol withdrawal is considered controversial.

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5. Reduce cravings with disulfiram. Though it does not literally treat withdrawal symptoms, disulfiram interferes with alcohol metabolism and makes hangovers much worse than they would otherwise be. Thus, it is occasionally prescribed to help reduce the desire for alcohol through its painful adverse effects.