From what I have read on Wikipedia, alcohol withdraw symptoms shouldn't kick in for a few days.

When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days." [Emphasis is mine]

However, I have observed an individual who drinks heavily who begins shaking so badly that they cannot hold a glass of water without using both hands. This occurs as soon as they wake up or only a few hours later.

Is the onset of symptoms within the typically expected range?

1 Answer 1


It turns out that I just needed to dig in deeper. Per https://escholarship.org/uc/item/08b9z9th, "Because of the short action of ethanol (beverage alcohol), withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 8 hours after blood alcohol levels decrease, peak at about 72 hours, and are markedly re-duced by day 5 through 7 of abstinence."

So, the start of DT's can be as soon as 8 hours, which coincides with my friend going to sleep and waking up after 6 or more hours.

But looks like they are in for a rough ride if the symptoms will increase and culminate after 3 full days.

  • 4
    You start getting the shakes after 8 hours. Once real DT sets in, 48~72 hours later, you wake up every ~4 hours in a cold sweat and go sit in the shower for half an hour expelling bile from all of your orifices, and this repeats for up to three days straight, presuming you live, while trying to hydrate yourself with a wet rag. - Most drugs you can get away with quitting cold turkey. Alcohol withdrawal however can be fatal. Get this dude some Pedialyte and check on them every two hours for the next week. If you're unwilling to do that, and they're ready to quit, check them into a hospital
    – Mazura
    May 1, 2022 at 5:17
  • Is it better to taper off, assuming they have the willpower and support to handle it?
    – ZeusLives
    May 1, 2022 at 16:15

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