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Some Advice -- Mild Alcohol Withdrawal

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Greetings,

i'm a 28 year-old male, with a not-unusual-for-my-age history of alcohol use over the past 5 years (around 5-7 drinks 1-3 times a week). I also have, twice in the past, suffered from bouts of anxiety disorder, and infquent problems sleeping. Problem is, I have a tendancy to drink in response to problems sleeping, to stave off the problem continuing for more than one night.

Recently, in response to problems sleeping, work stress, stress from moving, and quitting-smoking stress (on the patch for two months--so far very successful) I responded by having 4-6 drinks every night for almost four weeks. During the last week of this episode, I started having problems with waking too early--a not uncommon occurence with alcohol abuse, certainly compunded by the summer months bringing early-morning sunlight streaming into my room. I stopped the drinking for three nights, had some mild insomnia, then had drinks both nights over the weekend, and then have not had drinks over the past two nights, and have no plans to have any until i'm sure it's safe to do so.

I have had problems sleeping over the past two nights; my mind is way too overactive as I lay down, I finally fall asleep after about an hour, and then awake four-to-five hours later and am unable to get back to sleep (i have dealt with the sunlight problems [thick curtains]). As well, I had problems with an unusual amount of sweating both nights.

Doing a little reading, it occured to me that i'm going through mild alcohol withdrawal.

My question in this -- have I ruined drinking permanently for myself? I have no intention of going back to drinking in response to stress ever again (as I get older i'm realizing how dangerous that kind of pattern is), but don't want to have to abstain for the rest of my life. I don't think i'm alcoholic (i don't have any problems not drinking for extended periods of time, no problem stopping drinking after i've had a couple, no issues with relationships, work, or responsibilities due to alcohol), but when I go out to a club or a party, I want to be able to have a few and not worry about insomnia and sweats for days afterwards.

Does anyone have any thoughts/advice on this problem? I have a work function coming up -- it will be five days since my last drink -- and would like to be able to have a few without having problems for days afterwards.

If anyone has any questions, i'll be monitoring the thread and can supply answers.

Thanks!
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replied April 28th, 2004
I don't know if this helps but.. Think about honestly with yourself? Do you know yourself to be well discplined as to not fall into the pattern again? I know for me.. I'd love to go out right now w/ my friend and have a couple of beers - I just don't trust that I won't slide. It's too easy for me to do that. If you are in doubt - then maybe you shouldn't. I find the more I don' t drink, the more motivated I am to find joy elsewhere - I also feel proud that I can do w/out - your friends will be admiring you.

Good luck no matter what your decision.

Jen
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replied April 28th, 2004
I once asked someone the very questions you are asking and they told me that if you have to question yourself or others as to maybe having a problem with alcohol you generally do have a problem with alcohol!!! At least you are recognizing it and so there is a chance you can do something about it before it cost you. My nephew just totally lost his lexus and has his drivers license suspended for a year ;not to mention all the money its costing him---he is 28 years old and he had no car insurance !! Thats what a problem with drinking can do to you. Fasholafay
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replied May 1st, 2004
Experienced User
I agree with the above posts, if you are truly questioning yourself as to whether or not you have a problem with alcohol, chances are that you just might. It's true that with any drug, when its been in your system long enough, and you stop, your body detoxes, becasue the levels are not as consistent- once you reintroduce (alcohol) some of the symptoms / most of detox go away. People who suffer from anxiety/ insomnia( which I do) shouldn't drink alcohol. I used to rely on alcohol as a sedative for my insomnia and what not, but alot of times it would do the opposite. I'd pass out for a few hours, then bolt out of bed and be wired. People who have insomnia, anixiety have sensitive systems- if you've ever taken a caffeine pill, or drink a few cokes or coffee, you might notice you get heart palpitations(anxiety) or that the caffeine pill doesn't wear off for a day(insomnia). So yeh point is, if you question your self/ have insomnia/ anxiety , drinking is pretty much the last thing you should be doing. Hope that helped a bit
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replied December 9th, 2004
Man u are right 'bout withdrawal syndrome. Next week is very dangerous, cause u can get a delirium tremens. That is really bad thing with hallucinosis and tonic-clonic seizures. To prevent it use valium or librium/ u must visit a doctor to get a ricipe. U also need vitamins: thiamin 100mg/day pyridoxine 100mg/day and also maybe magnesium. Blood tests required
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replied August 4th, 2009
I am also 28 years of age and I have been through a much more extensive / intensive alcohol problem with several detoxes failing to keep me off the alcohol , resulting in a relapse every time. I am on my 4th detox right now so I guess i have a unique insight into what treatment should be given and how relapses occur.
Firstly, as you are only a mild drinker in comparison to myself. You will probably be advised to see your doctor for a course of Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) 5mg tablets 100 of (Very heavy drinkers usually get 10mg or 25mg tablets depening). These are a sedative which will reduce dramatically (or even prevent in some cases) the withdrawl symptoms and possibility of DTs. DT (Delirium Tremens are not really likely to occur in somebody who is a relitively mild driker). Usually you will take these over a period of 10-12 days. Starting your first day with 4 doses of 3 tables- so 12 total on the first day- (actually they are capsules). The next day, 11 capsules ... and so on until you reach 0.

Example day one of detox -
3 in the morning
3 at lunch
3 at dinner
3 before bed

Example day two of detox -
3 in the morning
3 at lunch
2 at dinner
3 before bed

And so on.

You will also need to completely abstane from alcohol during this detox course and you will also need to make sure you drink a lot of fluids and take Thiamine (Vitamin B1 suppliments). Ensure that you eat properly also .. after the first couple of days you will notice your appitite will increase so this shouldn't be a problem. Avoid stimulants like caffene as these can cancel out or reduce the effects of the chlordiazepoxide.
Once you have completed your course, you may ask your doctor for Acamprosate. This will, if taken every day on schedule, greatly reduce your cravings for alcohol. Usually you get a months supply which is around 360 tablets.

I found that even just saying "Oh I will just have the one glass of wine at christmas" .. usually leads to 2, then 3 then you will go back on a downard slope.

I wish you luck my friend. And remember - Will power is key!
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replied February 15th, 2010
Withdrawal does indeed suck. It is very unpleasant when your hands tremble to the extent that you can't write a check, hold a small glass of liquid or use the laptop mouse.
I just passed the 50 hour threshold after my last drink so the tremors have all but ceased. But yesterday I could not post here due to the shakes.
I'm getting help because I now realize alcohol's strong grip on my lifetime and health. I actually went out last week and purchased alcohol to stop the shakes. It worked but who in their right mind would expose their body to something that makes you feel so bad when you quit drinking?
I have a fear of withdrawal now and I hope it is strong enough to get alcohol out of my life.
Like many people here, I always tell myself that I'll just have a couple of drinks. It doesn't work as I quickly forget about pending withdrawal and drink excessively.
I do wish everybody well here. I've been reading for sometime now but this is my first post.

Bill
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replied June 23rd, 2010
Withdrawal
OMG! I am currently enduring Alcohol withdrawal. This is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. I got back a couple days ago from a 4 day fishing trip as a Stag Party. I drank 4 days straight only stopping to sleep. The night I got back I was up all night vomiting and sweating. Its now been 48 hours since my last drink, my hands are shaking, im sweating profusely, and I have insomnia. This happened to me once before when I drank vodka and rye every night for a few weeks. I thought I would be OK if I just drank beer...but four days of all day beer drinking has done this too. I need to quit for good! The Anxiety is killing me!
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replied November 11th, 2010
I have had the EXACT same issues and questions, and frankly, I don't think the people that have responded to this post understand the situation.

I am 27 and male. I did not start drinking regularly until I was 21 (kind of a nerd and didn't get invited to a lot of parties so I didn't have access to it very often when I was underage). Once I turned 21, I began drinking more because it was a new experience. However, after graduating college and getting a full time job, I became more responsible and didn't have time to bar hop 4 or 5 nights a week like in my college days.

During busy, hectic seasons at work, I found myself drinking a little more to relieve stress and help me sleep. Once busy season was over and I didn't feel the need to drink regularly, I began getting the withdrawal symptoms.

My solution -- and judging by the previous replies, most of you are not going to agree -- is to take a sleeping aid (or if you're cool with it, smoke some pot) for the 2 or 3 nights following a night of heavy drinking. Those are the nights when the withdrawal symptoms occur. If you limit yourself to drinking a couple times a month and are in control of the amount, there is no reason why this can't be a healthy alternative. Make sure to look for natural sleeping aids that contain melatonin, chamomile extract, tryptophan, etc. because they generally don't have crazy side effects and are not addictive.

It sounds like you are similar to me. I have no problems with NOT drinking. I don't ever feel like I HAVE to have a drink. I don't drink hard liquor and only drink beer and wine, which studies have shown can be healthy in reasonable quantities.

For me, this problem is a residual consequence for having drank so much in my early 20's, which only lasted for a few years. And like you said, that is not uncommon when you are in college. It seems to me like everyone else here is older and has been drinking a lot more for a lot longer and is lumping this situation in with their own problems with alcoholism.

It upsets me that people say "if you're questioning whether you have a problem, then you must have a problem." I don't think they understand that these symptoms can occur in non-alcoholics too. I'm not a doctor and I don't know why that is. I also don't know why some people can have one glass of wine and be OK, while for others, one glass has to lead to five. Different folks, different strokes, I guess.

If you're honest with yourself, you'll know what type of person you are. Obviously, if you find that you are in fact an alcoholic, then please disregard my advice. But if what you say is true and you get these symptoms with the OCCASIONAL heavy drinking, then give it a try and keep partying (responsibly of course), because life is too short.
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replied November 20th, 2010
I’m dealing with forced detox and abstinence due to health problems and have studied and tried to quit drinking many times over the years. I have talked to doctors and been in experimental alcohol dependency research programs...so I have learned a little on the issue.

Alcohol screws up your sleep…plain and simple. It robs you of the all-important REM state of sleep…the deepest, dream state of sleep when we get the majority of our rejuvenation from sleep. There is no way to get around this…period…even for occasional drinkers.

Since abstaining from alcohol, I fall asleep and stay asleep better than I ever have in my life. Sure…when you’re drunk you think you sleep all night but there is a reason you don’t wake up refreshed. Partly because of the dehydration and loss of sugars and electrolytes the alcohol requires of your body, and partly due to the fact that you don’t get good REM sleep.

If you drink…expect to lose some REM sleep. It is the sacrifice you have to make if you are going to drink more than lightly. You should be fine with one beer, maybe two before dinner/nightfall, but anything beyond/after that will mess with your sleep.

I had a doctor tell me years ago while in the hospital for atrial fribulation and exhaustion,
”go ahead and have your few cocktails when you get home…before dinner. The alcohol will affect you stronger, giving you the buzz you want on an empty stomach. But do not drink after dinner or after 6 or 7 pm and be sure to drink some water, otherwise your sleep will be compromised”.

As an alcoholic I of course ignored this advice to my ill ends. But the advice still stands and is correct…if you are strong enough to heed such advice.
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replied August 23rd, 2015
I agree with the doc, also a house rule = happy hour is 5pm until dinner/7pm only and one day off/week for liver vacation/healing. The rest of the story is the obvious how many vs. age/gender. Both are important or the consequences can be read most anywhere on the Internet, yet your ER visits may "find nothing". This is because the first thing they do is IV hydrate you = days of rehydration in minutes/hours, allowing the clues to wash out, also most of the symptoms.
These minor symptoms can be lethal when the unexpected compounds them, like car breaking down in 104F heat on freeway = palpitations + exercise = 911/death.
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replied May 23rd, 2012
Mild alcohol withdrawal
"Mild Alcohol Withdrawal" Funny, I'm a 55 year old woman, successful professional, I think most people I know would be surprised I've joined AA. I find this thread really helpful. I've been a faithful drinker since I was 16 or 17, and heavy drinker (frequently 4 glasses of wine or more a night) for at least 10 years. I score "mild" on alcohol dependency scales. I'm day 14 sober, no cravings. After a week of mild insomnia, I've been sleeping a lot - 11 hours last night and could have slept longer. I can't find this described anywhere. Would appreciate hearing from anyone who's experienced this.
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replied May 29th, 2012
Hello, all!

I found all of these posts very interesting and helpful in their complexity... no two alcoholics are alike!

I have always been a high-strung person; perhaps a perfectionist, perhaps suffering from anxiety issues, I'm not quite sure. I learned in high school after a few bad experiences that I should stay far away from spirits. In any case, I began to drink beer and wine regularly after 21. When I reached about 24, I was drinking an average of 4-8 drinks a night (again, beer and wine) and I noticed that it was part of my nightly routine, like brushing my teeth. I justified this intake as a sleeping aid. I now realize at 31 that using alcohol, be it beer, wine, vodka, etc as medication IS alcoholism. A problem far worse than my "insomnia" ever was. However, I still do it. I'm trying to stop.

When I stop drinking, I feel really weird for about a week and I have nightmares. I've found that this normalizes after a few days. After that, I can't sleep enough! I'm used to about 6-8 hours a night, and after 3-4 days of abstinance I'm ready and able to sleep 10-12 hours... with naps! I think this may stem from the fact that an alcohol induced sleep is not very restful and I am physically exhuasted from drinking. When this happens, I figure it's better to sleep than drink, my body is telling me something. Eight O'clock bedtime it is! I also experienced this when I quit smoking. I had a lot of conflicting chemicals in my system.

This all being said, I'm still fighting alcohol and it's a stalemate. Beer is a better friend than cigarettes, but it isn't a friend.

These are my tips:

Don't buy booze -

-You can't but it if you don't have money! Don't carry money unless you have a purpose. Leave the house with necessary ID, keys, and phone. I know this seems like overkill, but I live across the street from a liquor store - beer is super easy to pick up on the way home from work. It's best to limit the temptation. You only have to do it for a week to develop new habits!

Drink tea-

A salad is NOT a pizza. Tea is NOT alcohol and it does NOT have the desired effect on your body. However, it can become a ritual much like alcohol. I know this because I've seen my husband do it- he is stronger than me! When I crack open a beer, he makes a cup of tea. I am learning a lot from him (he's been sober for a year without any external help).


Drink ANYTHING other than alcohol* -

perrier and citrus
iced tea - home made!
coffee
infused sparkling water
juice
juice with sparkling water (it's like a bellini!)
virgin bloody mary **
club soda with lime
coke
tab

* the more of these you drink, the more alcohol will taste like poison. It is poison, not medicine.
** avoid the temptation to try one with alcohol as a hangover cure. Again, alcohol is not medicine.

Do more sober activities with friends -

If you find yourself thinking, "all my friends want to do is drink" and you're nearing your 30s, chances are they're thinking the same thing. Suggest a daytime activity that doesn't reach its apex at a bar... think like a kid! Really, what did you think was fun in high school? Chances are you haven't changed much.

park
beach
bikes
batting cages
amusement park
arcade
museum
scholarly talk
concert (even punk is better sober)
cooking class
swimming pool

Well, I could go on and on, but mostly these tips were just a way for me to help myself. I hope they can help others too!
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