People who live with alcohol use disorder may develop a range of symptoms if they stop drinking suddenly. They may also experience vitamin deficiencies, as alcohol impairs the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients.
People who misuse alcohol can experience a range of symptoms if they abruptly stop drinking. These symptoms can range from mild nausea, headaches, to life threatening seizures.
Read on to learn more about alcohol withdrawal syndrome, including the signs, symptoms, and detoxification process. It also looks at vitamin supplements for alcoholism.
If someone regularly drinks more than the
Heavy alcohol drinking can cause vitamin deficiencies. This deficiency can lead to
One option is high doses of oral vitamin B supplementation, which can help correct deficiencies without causing adverse effects. However, these supplements may not provide enough vitamin B1, which is essential for
Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble nutrient that
Doctors may also recommend other supplements depending on the individual and their nutritional status.
The body requires good nutrition to increase energy levels and maintain bodily processes.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B1 is a cofactor for enzymes that metabolize glucose. Deficiencies in vitamin B1
Alcohol use disorder can result in deficiencies because of low dietary intake and decreased absorption of B1 in the digestive system. It can also lead to deficiencies in:
- vitamin B2, or riboflavin
- vitamin B3, or niacin
- vitamin B9, or folate
Vitamin A (retinol)
Long-term alcohol use
One consequence of alcohol use disorder is
An individual with alcohol use disorder may develop vitamin C deficiency in
- insufficient intake due to reasons of neglect or poverty
- insufficient absorption in intestines
- increased levels of vitamin C excretion through urine
People with vitamin C deficiency or scurvy
Effects on digestion
In addition to dietary issues, alcohol affects how the body digests, stores, and uses nutrients. For example, it can decrease the secretion of digestive enzymes in the pancreas and impair nutrient absorption from the cells of the stomach or intestines.
Alcohol also disrupts the microbiome of the gut. Therefore, long-term alcohol use leads to lower nutrient consumption and can affect how the body uses this limited supply of nutrients. As a result, many individuals who misuse alcohol may become malnourished.
Individuals may develop mild symptoms within hours of their last alcoholic drink. Doctors use the Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment tool for Alcohol revised scale (CIWA-Ar) to assess and monitor an individual’s AWS symptoms. The CIWA-Ar scale looks for the
- nausea and vomiting
- hearing strange noises
- visual disturbances
- inability to think clearly or concentrate
- adjustment to their surroundings
AWS varies from mild to life threatening, with the most severe involving a condition called delirium tremens (DT). Up to
Many treatment protocols for AWS involve supportive care as the person withdraws to ease the discomfort of the symptoms.
Overall, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the goal of detoxification is to help make withdrawal safer, more humane and prepare the individual for ongoing treatment.
The timeline of detoxification varies between individuals and depends on the duration and extent of their drinking behavior. It may also depend on any other physical and mental health issues an individual has.
However, a potential
- 6 hours after the last drink: An individual may notice mild signs and symptoms such as tremors, headache, stomach upset, anxiety, or insomnia.
- Within 24 hours: Individuals may experience hallucinations such as seeing, hearing and feeling things that are not there.
- 24 to 48 hours: The risk of seizures could be highest for some individuals at this point.
- 48 to 72 hours: Individuals might experience visual hallucinations, confusion, or agitation at this stage. There is also still a risk of DT appearing in some individuals.
The symptoms can range in severity. In some individuals, they might
Recovering from active alcohol addiction is challenging.
People may need professional help to get them through withdrawal, help manage their symptoms, and provide the best chance of successful rehabilitation.
Alcohol use disorder can mean an individual experiences vitamin deficiencies, as alcohol can affect how the body absorbs and uses vitamins and nutrients. As a result, they may have low levels of vitamin A, B, or C.
Therefore, doctors may advise going through the detoxification process and taking vitamin supplements to prevent any potentially serious conditions associated with deficiencies.
If individuals believe they have a problem with alcohol or if they drink more than the recommended amounts, they should speak with their doctor for support and advice.
Help is available
Seeking help for addiction may feel daunting or even scary, but several organizations can provide support.
If you believe that you or someone close to you is showing signs of addiction, you can contact the following organizations for immediate help and advice:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 800-662-4357 (TTY: 800-487-4889)
- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988