Cut down or quit?


Tolerance and withdrawal
Serious withdrawal problems

Tolerance and withdrawal

The body will get used to processing alcohol. You’ve probably noticed that with time you can ‘handle’ more and more of it. Over time, you need more and more alcohol to feel that pleasant buzz. This is called tolerance. It also means that the body reacts if you suddenly drink much less alcohol (or none).
If this is the case, you get withdrawal symptoms, which can last for days, and may include the following:

  • You may shake, perspire, and feel nauseous.
  • Your stomach may be upset and you may vomit.
  • The intestines react too: you may have diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Other symptoms are restlessness, anxiety, tension and trouble sleeping.

Usually these symptoms disappear within a few days to a week; your sleeping difficulties may persist for longer. You’ll feel a bit better every day if you can just remain abstinent. Your body will recover, and you will begin to feel physically, as well as emotionally better.

Serious withdrawal problems

A serious problem during withdrawal is a delirium tremens (DT's), known for making people see things like the famous pink elephants.
The person feels agitated and confused, and contact with reality is disturbed. Symptoms are fear, restlessness and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that aren’t there). A person suffering from a delirium definitely will need medical help. If in doubt, always contact a doctor. The DT's can progress to seizure activity, ie having a fit. This is similar to an epileptic seizure and is a very serious consequence of stopping. It is essential that you contact a medical doctor if you experience this, or if someone has concerns that you have had a seizure.

If you have had a seizure in the past, it is imperative that you do not try to stop drinking without medical support.