Even if you only drink occasionally, you’ve probably felt the effects of a hangover. You might have a bad headache, feel tired, slightly dizzy, sick to your stomach, and generally pretty irritable. It’s no fun, and it happens to approximately 75 percent of everyone who drinks alcohol to the point of intoxication. Doctors aren’t quite sure why hangovers happen, only that they are caused by too much alcohol consumption. You put too much of something in your body that shouldn’t be there, and your body reacts accordingly until it is out of your system. Hangovers also feel very much like alcohol withdrawal, which can be a problem if you can’t tell the difference between the two.
Hangover vs. Withdrawal
If you’re not sure what you’re experiencing is a hangover or alcohol withdrawal, take a look at how many drinks you’ve consumed and how many you usually consume. Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for a woman and up to two drinks per day for a man. A drink for these purposes is defined as 12 ounces of beer, eight ounces of malt liquor, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of a distilled spirit such as vodka or whiskey. This level of drinking is considered safe for most adults over the age of 21. If this is how you usually drink and you happen to have indulged a little more than usual, you’re probably just hungover. On the other hand, if you regularly drink more than that, and you feel like you have to drink more, you might be experiencing alcohol withdrawal if it’s been a while since your last drink.
Some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, depression, fatigue, shakiness, headaches, and nausea. As we’ve said before, these are not unlike the symptoms of a hangover, which is why so many people confuse the two. It’s also why a common “hangover” cure is to keep drinking. If what you’re experiencing is withdrawal, consuming more alcohol will give your body what it needs to stop the worst of the symptoms.
Knowing When to Seek Help
Another major difference between a hangover and alcohol withdrawal is that withdrawal symptoms can be much worse and even dangerous, especially if you’ve been dependent on alcohol for a while. Approximately 3 to 5 percent of people who go through alcohol withdrawal experience delirium tremens, or DTs. These come with symptoms such as fever, seizures, confusion, and hallucinations. In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can even be fatal. Meanwhile, a hangover is merely uncomfortable and will go away completely in 24 to 48 hours after you stop drinking.
If you still experience symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and shakiness about two days after you last consumed alcohol, you might be experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This is especially the case if you are a heavy drinker who goes without alcohol for a period of time. Since alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even deadly, you should never attempt to detox by yourself if you’re experiencing severe symptoms. Some people can detox at home if they’re only experiencing minor symptoms, but anyone experiencing DTs should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you believe you have an addiction to alcohol and you don’t believe that you can detox by yourself, do not hesitate to seek professional help. An alcohol detox clinic can provide you with a safe environment to handle the worst of your withdrawal symptoms. Many clinics can also provide medical intervention if you experience severe DT symptoms. As with any substance abuse issue, an alcohol rehab clinic can also provide counseling to address the issues that may have led to your drinking and alcohol dependence.
Giving up drinking after it’s been such a big part of your life is difficult, and nobody should be expected to go through it on their own. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of alcohol dependency or withdrawal, we will be happy to help you. Contact us today at 844-903-2111 to learn more about our alcohol detox and rehabilitation programs, and remember that it is never too late to seek help and be free of alcohol dependency.