What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)?

The continued use of various drugs leads to the body growing dependent upon said substance. Eventually, dependency carries the potential to result in serious illness when one abruptly stops using said chemicals.

One of the most addictive substances is alcohol. Moreover, when one ceases using this potent liquid after prolonged or heavy use, they may be at risk for a potentially severe medical condition classified as Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, which is sometimes abbreviated simply as AWS.

Alcohol’s Impact On Body

Scientific researchers maintain that alcohol is especially addictive because the substance stimulates the brain’s production of chemicals called dopamine and endorphins. These substances increase feelings of pleasure and suppresses painful or unpleasant impulses.

However, as one consumes greater quantities of the product, the brain grows increasingly reliant on it and requires prodigious concentrations to produce the intended effects. Eventually, this cycle results in addiction. Once one reaches said stage, stopping usage for even brief periods could precipitate bothersome and sometimes serious complications.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Physicians categorize AWS as a disease occurring when alcohol dependents quickly cease drinking and experience withdrawal related physical and mental manifestations.


Symptoms typically begin anywhere from as soon as six hours to as long as several days following when the stricken subject consumed their last adult beverage. Medical professionals maintain that one is likely afflicted with AWS should they experience two or more of the most associated common symptoms including:

  • Cardiovascular problems like increased pulse rate and high blood pressure
  • Digestive issues like nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Increased perspiration
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Headaches

Impacted individuals might also encounter mental and psychological manifestations such as confusion, cognitive function problems, anxiety, and depression.

However, in severer cases or in persons with serious dependencies or medical concerns, more serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms like agitation, elevated body temperature, convulsions, visual and auditory hallucinations, and breathing struggles could develop.

Risk Factors

AWS is most typically seen in adults with significant alcohol addictions. That said, the problem can occur in teenagers and children with such dependencies. Moreover, the chances heighten in persons who had previously undergone detox for alcohol dependency.


Diagnosis is usually confirmed following a thorough physical examination and a probing through one’s medical and personal history. If the investigating healthcare provider suspects AWS, said subject might order a procedure called a toxicology screen. This effort determines the level of alcohol currently circulating through the patient’s bloodstream.

Potential Treatment Options

The specific therapy chosen by the diagnosing physician will depend upon several factors including the patient’s:

  • Age
  • Overall physical and mental health
  • How long their alcohol addiction has lasted
  • The severity of the dependency

Above all, treatment will be dictated by the specific symptoms the patient faces and how bad said manifestations are. Common remedial efforts include:

Watchful Waiting And Home Care

Those experiencing mild to moderate symptoms might overcome said problems through home care. Provided they refrain from further alcohol intake and remain properly hydrated, they should overcome the affliction. However, they should also monitor themselves for more severe symptoms and seek immediate help should they occur.


Individuals encountering more moderate to severer manifestations might benefit from the ingestion of certain medications. For example, those experiencing tremors or agitation might find relief from various sedative drugs.


The most serious instances may necessitate hospitalization. This is most often required for individuals facing potentially life-endangering symptoms like hallucinations.


Patients with mild to moderate instances of AWS who are in good health usually overcome the condition without notable complications. That said, the condition can prove fatal to subjects with longstanding or severe dependencies or who have other mental or physical health-related complications.


The most certain prevention method is to not allow one’s alcohol indulgence to progress to an addictive stage. This goal might be achieved through efforts including:

  • Consuming alcohol with food
  • Identifying other stress-relieving activities
  • Engaging in social outings in sober locations
  • Practicing awareness when consuming alcohol and stopping after two or three drinks

Above all, individuals are urged to avoid alcohol consumption-inducing triggers such as people that enjoy drinking or encourage the activity, unnecessary life stressors, and reliving or not properly coping with past traumas or life struggles.

Reaching Out To Us

Those concerned they might have an alcohol dependency are urged to reach out to us. We employ a highly skilled, well-versed, and patient-friendly team of treatment professionals who have helped numerous alcohol dependents beat their addictions. Call us at 844-639-8371.

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