There is a lot of information about AWS online. I am not going to regurgitate all the information I found, but if you want to know more visit the links at the bottom of the page. Needless to say, there are varying levels of withdrawal which, I assume, have something to do with how often you drink and the amounts of alcohol you consume. It appears the worst of these symptoms is delirium tremens…. the DT’s. We’ve all joked about having the DT’s right? But really it is no joking matter. In fact it sounds downright terrifying.
The DT’s include hallucinations, fever and seizures and can be fatal. I thankfully did not suffer from this form of withdrawal. My withdrawal has been, surprisingly, quite minor.
Standard withdrawal symptoms include – anxiety, fatigue, nausea, insomnia, jumpy, nervous, sweating, headaches, heart palpitations and depression. Now the good news – most symptom will significantly decrease after 5 – 7 days! Yay!
The effects I felt in my first two weeks of being dry –
I have always gone to bed early for various reasons, including my lack of desire to watch TV – I’d rather read a book which is more comfortably done in bed – to the fact I would often be out cold by 7pm due to imbibing in too much alcohol.
Being out cold and sleeping are two entirely different things. Going to bed because I fell asleep – at the dinner table, mid conversation – is not the same as going to bed early enough to get the required eight hours of restful, body repairing, soul invigorating sleep.
Regardless of why I would go to bed early – and I have to say that I could stay up late with the big kids sometimes – I often didn’t sleep well. I have never had a problem falling asleep… amazing what alcohol can do, but staying asleep is an entire different matter.
Giving it up made my insomnia worse in one way and decidedly better in another. I found when I was off the alcohol that I no longer fell asleep early and I was sitting up until midnight on the computer, and then I would lie awake for hours.
The best thing about ‘giving up insomnia’ and ‘alcoholic insomnia’ is what you do with the hours you are awake. Any alcoholic will know this scenario – fall asleep (or unconscious) wake a few hours later and suffer as you lie there dehydrated, in pain and wondering what went on the night before…. guilt, embarrassment and plans to never drink again!
‘Giving up insomnia’ involves lying in bed peacefully (once you give into it) thinking about how good you feel, how well you are doing and congratulating yourself on the fact you don’t have to apologise for your behaviour the next day.
That said, my insomnia has passed. I am still going to bed a lot later than usual but I am now sleeping well.
Changes in bowel movement! Without my daily litre or so of grape juice (aka red wine), a few shots of rum, bourbon or vodka (whatever), and perhaps an alcohol laced fruit smoothy (aka cocktail)…. seriously I have had a “NutriBullet” for a year now and it has not once made a single healthy, slimming, detoxing smoothy, but gee… can it throw together the best cocktails… I find that everything is not moving through me as well as it did. I have heard that things will soon get back to normal. I hope so!
Lets call it irritability, but I’ll tell you now, that is too nice a word for how I have felt! I have wanted to kill. I have looked poor dear Dill (hubby) in the face and wanted to smash it! I have even told him… “I so want to knock your teeth out.” Thankfully he can usually make me laugh, at other times however, he has spent a few hours in a foul mood as a direct result of my inability to cope with the irritability and emotional instability of giving alcohol the flick. This too has mostly passed. Now I just have to learn a new way to cope when things piss me off or I feel moody – I use to use alcohol for those types of issues… just a little pep me up!
That’s the one we all want to know about – when will the cravings stop. I have been told they never will. I very nearly thought bugger that, what’s the use of trying to give up! But I have found (after just two weeks) that my cravings have greatly reduced. In fact I craved alcohol a hell of a lot more when I was drinking. Always thinking about when I could have a drink…. it’s 12pm somewhere in the world, right? Or thinking about how I was going to only have two drinks today, or thinking about how I promise myself I’d stick to two but got smash-faced… guilt, failure… alcohol, always on my mind!
I have alway suffered a little from anxiety and my symptoms would be magnified astronomically when I suffered PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). For the last 5 or 6 year I have been on mild fluoxetine which is used to treat depressant, OCD and PMDD. I find that it helps a lot with my anxiety also. Dill still calls me OCD tho!
I have notice that my anxiety levels did increase when I gave up drinking and I became quite jumpy…. and it doesn’t help when hubby likes to grab parts of your anatomy at will, or slap you on the bum when you are bent down digging something out of the bottom cupboard! After two week I feel my emotions are returning to a more even keel. I think our marriage might even survive!
At the two week mark, I am beginning to notice the benefits of giving up alcohol… I’ll jot some of those down soon. Be strong peeps… it’s worth it!
Links to more on AWS
American Addiction Center
Healthline – Alcohol Withdrawal Symptons
A funny look at the 5 things they don’t tell about giving up alcohol!