Lantana Recovery
A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Alcohol Withdrawal Chills – Symptoms, Timeline, Treatment, and More

Jump to Section

Have you ever experienced chills, shivering, or goosebumps during alcohol withdrawal? It’s a common symptom that many people face when they decide to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption. But what causes these chills, and how can they be managed effectively? In this blog post, we will explore the phenomenon of alcohol withdrawal chills, along with other withdrawal symptoms, their timelines, and various treatment options available to help you or your loved ones navigate this challenging process.

By sharing our firsthand experiences and knowledge, we aim to provide valuable insights and support for those experiencing alcohol withdrawal. So let’s dive into the world of alcohol withdrawal chills and uncover the mysteries behind this often uncomfortable and distressing symptom.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Chills involves examining causes, frequency and severity to assess withdrawal.
  • Treatment options range from mild outpatient treatment to inpatient care with medication, self-care techniques and stress reduction tools.
  • Support groups provide valuable community for individuals recovering from alcohol withdrawal.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Chills

Alcohol withdrawal chills are a common symptom of alcohol withdrawal, which occurs when the body experiences a sudden absence of alcohol after regular intake. This physiological response can impact the body’s ability to regulate temperature, making chills a frequent symptom during the withdrawal process. But why do these chills occur, and what can be done to manage them?

Comprehending the link between alcohol withdrawal and body temperature regulation can be beneficial for individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Such insights can aid in assessing the withdrawal severity and determining suitable treatment options.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll examine the causes behind the chills during alcohol withdrawal, their frequency, severity, and the wider range of withdrawal symptoms.

Causes of Chills in Alcohol Withdrawal

The occurrence of chills during alcohol withdrawal can be attributed to two main factors: neurotransmitter imbalances and the body’s response to detoxification. Neurotransmitters like GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate play a significant role in alcohol withdrawal, influencing when and how withdrawal symptoms manifest. These imbalances can disrupt the body’s ability to maintain its temperature, leading to chills as a result of alcohol abuse.

Furthermore, the body’s response to detoxification contributes to the frequency and severity of alcohol withdrawal chills. Factors such as the level of alcohol dependence, the duration of alcohol consumption, and the amount of alcohol consumed by the individual can all impact the severity and frequency of chills during withdrawal.

Fact: “AWS is a significant concern, with approximately 500,000 episodes occurring annually among hospitalized patients in the U.S.” (Caring for hospitalized patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Dolores Y. Elliott, 2019)

Alcohol Withdrawal Chills – Symptoms, Timeline, Treatment, and More

Frequency and Severity of Chills

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including chills, can range from mild, uncomfortable sensations to more severe and potentially life-threatening complications as alcohol affects the nervous system. The frequency and severity of alcohol withdrawal chills depend on individual circumstances such as the level of alcohol dependence, the duration of alcohol consumption, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Remember, the intensity of these chills can significantly differ from one person to another. Some may experience mild chills, while others may endure more severe withdrawal symptoms, including over-sedation, electrolyte imbalances, and increased mortality, particularly in those with an underlying alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Overview

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, also known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, encompass a broad spectrum, ranging from mild physical and psychological sensations to severe and potentially life-threatening conditions. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bad dreams
  • Depression
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Clammy skin
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Paleness
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Tremor in hands

Identifying and comprehending the different alcohol withdrawal symptoms is key for effective treatment and support. In the subsequent subsections, we’ll investigate the mild, moderate, and severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, offering a thorough understanding of the difficulties individuals might encounter during this challenging period.

Mild Withdrawal Symptoms

Mild withdrawal symptoms are common during the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal and can manifest as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. These symptoms generally last longer than 24 hours. Other mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include restlessness, headaches, and cravings for alcohol.

Despite the discomfort these symptoms might cause, they are usually manageable without medical intervention. Nevertheless, it’s key to keep a close eye on these symptoms and seek professional assistance if symptoms occur that escalate or persist for a prolonged period.

Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

Moderate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia

The signs of moderate withdrawal can be identified by an increase in heart rate, elevation in blood pressure, and perspiration.

While moderate symptoms are more intense than mild ones, they can still be tackled with the right support and care. Monitoring these symptoms closely and seeking medical help if they escalate or become unmanageable is of great importance.

Read this article to learn more about the prazosin withdrawal symptoms, to gain a deeper understanding of the withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinuing the extended use of the medication.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Severe withdrawal symptoms can include hallucinations, seizures, and delirium, which are potentially life-threatening conditions. Alcohol withdrawal delirium is a severe symptom that typically lasts 48 to 72 hours and can be fatal if left untreated. Individuals with a history of seizures are at a heightened risk of withdrawal seizures.

Due to the potential life-threatening nature of severe withdrawal symptoms, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention if they occur. Inpatient treatment and medical supervision can help manage these severe symptoms and ensure the safety and well-being of the individual.

Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal


The timeline of alcohol withdrawal typically follows a progression, with symptoms appearing within 6-12 hours after the last drink, peaking between 24-48 hours, and usually resolving within 5-7 days. The severity and duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly among individuals, influenced by factors such as the level of alcohol dependence, the duration of alcohol consumption, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Grasping the timeline of alcohol withdrawal is significant for those experiencing these symptoms, as it provides an understanding of when specific symptoms might occur and their potential duration. In the upcoming subsections, we’ll examine the early, peak, and resolution stages of alcohol withdrawal, providing a thorough insight into the process.

Early Stage (6-12 hours)

The early stage of alcohol withdrawal typically begins within 6-12 hours after the last drink. During this stage, individuals may experience initial symptoms such as:

  • headaches
  • hand tremors
  • alcohol cravings
  • feelings of depression

These symptoms can be uncomfortable but are generally manageable.

It’s vital to keep a close eye on these initial symptoms, as they may signal the onset of the withdrawal process. For some individuals, severe symptoms like delirium symptoms may manifest after 12-24 hours, highlighting the need for close observation and potential medical intervention.

Peak Stage (24-48 hours)

The peak stage of alcohol withdrawal occurs during the 24-48 hour period after the initial onset of withdrawal symptoms. During this stage, individuals may experience the most intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as:

  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Intense cravings for alcohol

Seeking medical assistance during this phase is crucial to ensure safety and effective management of symptoms. The peak stage can be challenging to navigate, but with proper support and care, individuals can overcome these obstacles and progress towards recovery.

Resolution Stage (5-7 days)

During the resolution stage of alcohol withdrawal, symptoms gradually diminish, and the body begins to stabilize. This stage usually occurs around 5-7 days after the last drink. The intensity and duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can differ from person to person, making it essential to monitor symptoms closely and seek professional help if needed.

Continued support during the resolution stage is key, as it assists individuals in managing any remaining symptoms and guarantees a successful recovery. With proper care and guidance, individuals can successfully navigate the alcohol withdrawal process and embark on a journey towards a healthier, alcohol-free life.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Withdrawal

Treatment Options for Alcohol Withdrawal

Various treatment options are available for managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including chills. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of symptoms, individual circumstances, and any complicating conditions. Treatment options can include both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches, provided in inpatient and outpatient settings.

In the subsequent subsections, we’ll delve into the various treatment options for alcohol withdrawal, including outpatient and inpatient treatments, along with medications used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. By understanding the various treatment options, individuals and their loved ones can make informed decisions and select the appropriate path towards recovery.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal is suitable for those with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. This approach involves daily visits from a healthcare provider who will administer blood tests and closely monitor vital signs until symptoms stabilize. It is recommended that individuals undergoing outpatient treatment have a support person present to assist them in their recovery.

Outpatient treatment allows individuals to manage their withdrawal symptoms in the comfort of their own home while still receiving the necessary medical care and support. However, it’s vital to closely monitor symptoms, and professional assistance should be considered if symptoms escalate or persist for a prolonged duration.

Inpatient Treatment

For individuals experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, inpatient treatment may be necessary. Inpatient treatment involves:

  • Staying at a hospital or care facility
  • Healthcare professionals monitoring the patient for potentially severe symptoms, such as delirium tremens or hallucinations
  • Administering fluids or medication intravenously if necessary

Inpatient treatment provides the benefit of continuous monitoring and medical interventions to manage symptoms and prevent complications. This approach may involve the use of medications, such as benzodiazepines, to reduce withdrawal symptoms and ensure the safety and comfort of the individual.

Additionally, supportive care, counseling, and therapy may be provided to address the root causes of alcohol addiction and substance abuse, including alcohol dependence.

Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal

Specific medications can be used to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Anxiolytics
  • Vitamins
  • Suboxone

The symptom-triggered approach is commonly employed for administering benzodiazepines during alcohol withdrawal treatment, using medications like diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, and lorazepam.

These medications during pharmalogical management of alcohol withdrawal serve to treat agitation and prevent complications by acting as a sedative and reducing neuronal overactivity, suggests a research study published in JAMA. The CIWA-Ar test is often used during alcohol withdrawal treatment to evaluate the necessity for medication in the patient. The appropriate use of medications can significantly improve the comfort and safety of individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Coping Strategies and Support

Coping Strategies and Support

Beyond medical treatment, adopting coping strategies and participating in supportive networks can significantly influence an individual’s experience during alcohol withdrawal. Some strategies to consider include:

  • Focusing on self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in regular exercise
  • Practicing stress reduction techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga
  • Connecting with others who have faced similar challenges, either through support groups or online communities

These strategies can provide invaluable support and encouragement throughout the recovery process.

In the upcoming subsections, we’ll provide advice on self-care techniques, strategies to reduce stress, and ways to connect with support groups. By incorporating these coping strategies and support systems, individuals can successfully navigate alcohol withdrawal and build a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

Self-Care Techniques

Engaging in self-care practices is key during alcohol withdrawal, as it can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, including chills. Some recommended self-care techniques include:

  • Staying hydrated
  • Consuming a balanced diet
  • Obtaining adequate rest
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants

By focusing on self-care, individuals can improve their overall well-being, allowing their bodies to heal and recover more effectively from the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Prioritizing self-care can also help individuals develop healthy habits that will support their long-term recovery and overall quality of life.

Stress Reduction Techniques

Lowering stress levels during alcohol withdrawal can aid in easing anxiety and other withdrawal symptoms. Techniques such as:

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Journaling

Can be effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. According to a systematic review published in Behavioral Sciences, mindfulness based treatment interventions in the SUD population, helps with reducing cravings, decreasing the frequency of use, and improving depressive symptoms.

Incorporating stress reduction techniques into daily routines can provide individuals with tools to manage stress and anxiety more effectively. Some stress reduction techniques to consider include:

  • Practicing deep breathing exercises
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Trying mindfulness or meditation
  • Spending time in nature
  • Journaling or writing
  • Seeking support from friends, family, or a therapist

As stress is a common trigger for alcohol cravings, learning to cope with stress in healthy ways can contribute to a successful recovery and reduced risk of relapse, as well as managing one’s alcohol intake.

Connecting with Support Groups

Support groups can provide a safe and encouraging environment for individuals to share their experiences and gain encouragement during the recovery process. There are several support groups available for alcohol withdrawal, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and Celebrate Recovery.

Joining a support group can offer individuals:

  • A sense of community
  • Understanding
  • Assistance during the recovery process
  • Motivation and accountability for their recovery goals

Having a strong support network in place can significantly impact the success and longevity of an individual’s recovery journey.

Alcohol Withdrawal Chills – Symptoms, Timeline, Treatment, And More


In conclusion, alcohol withdrawal chills are a common yet often misunderstood symptom of the withdrawal process. Understanding the causes, frequency, and severity of chills, along with other withdrawal symptoms, is crucial for individuals seeking to overcome alcohol dependence. By exploring treatment options, practicing self-care, and engaging in stress reduction techniques, individuals can successfully navigate their journey to recovery.

We hope that the information and insights provided in this blog post have shed light on the complexities of alcohol withdrawal and offered valuable support for those facing this challenging process. Remember, you are not alone in your journey, and with the right tools, treatment, and support, you can overcome alcohol withdrawal and build a healthier, alcohol-free life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you get chills when you stop drinking?

Yes, a person can experience chills as one of the symptoms when they stop drinking alcohol.

Chills can be a sign of withdrawal from alcohol, and can be a sign that the body is trying to adjust to the lack of alcohol in the system. It is important to note that it is important to note.

Why do I get cold shivers after drinking alcohol?

Alcohol can decrease your body temperature, triggering the release of chemicals called cytokines which affect memory and concentration and cause physical symptoms such as chills and tiredness.

This hypothermia can make the body feel warm inside and cause shivering.

Why do I feel weird when I stop drinking?

Stopping drinking can lead to high levels of anxiety due to increased sensitivity in the body, making people feel on edge and causing difficulty sleeping.

This heightened sensitivity can be difficult to manage, but there are ways to cope. Exercise, relaxation techniques, and talking to a therapist can all help reduce anxiety levels.

How long do mild withdrawal symptoms typically last?

Mild withdrawal symptoms typically last longer than 24 hours.

What are some common moderate withdrawal symptoms?

Common moderate withdrawal symptoms include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and sweating.

These symptoms can be uncomfortable, but they are usually not dangerous. It is important to remember that these symptoms are temporary and will pass with time.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

Related Articles
Addiction Treatment
Contact Form
We’re here to help you or your loved one on their path to sobriety

Chat with us.

Reach out now and join our supportive community

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.