Can You Die from Alcohol Withdrawal?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Although life-threatening alcohol withdrawal is rare, it does happen. There are occasions when alcohol addiction is so severe that the body responds in a way that causes heart failure or other medical complications. In essence, when you stop drinking, you are suddenly discontinuing the substance that your mind and body have been dependent upon for several years. This can have a jarring effect on your central nervous system and other systems and organs in your body. For this reason, you should consider professional alcohol detox treatment at an addiction treatment center in California. A detox center like Renaissance Recovery offers a fully licensed staff, comfortable facilities, 24/7 monitoring, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and emergency medical care – everything you need for a safe recovery from alcohol use disorder.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with alcohol dependence issues, reach out to our team using our online contact form or by calling [Direct].

Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal: How Severe Can It Be?

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild discomfort to crippling side effects that cause intense pain and erratic emotional behavior. The symptoms become more severe if you have been binging for a long time. Common symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors

Withdrawal symptoms reach their peak between three and five days during detox and start fading between seven and ten days. None of these withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to be considered life-threatening on their own. However, it is worth taking a closer look at some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms that can accompany alcohol withdrawal. These include, but are not limited to:


One of the reasons an alcohol addiction treatment center is the option preferred by the medical community is because you may experience hallucinations during alcohol detox. Hallucinations involve the perception of something as real or present when it is not so. They can be tactile (touch), auditory, or visual. You may swear that you are seeing or hearing things that are not there. In addition to causing psychological distress, hallucinations can be dangerous in that they can lead to a person putting themselves in harm’s way.


Seizures occur as a result of sudden changes in the brain’s electrical activity. If you suddenly end a severe alcohol use disorder, it is likely to trigger immediate changes in the brain that lead to seizures. You may experience noticeable and dramatic symptoms, including violent shaking and loss of control.

Under normal circumstances, seizures are not deadly. However, when coupled with other withdrawal symptoms and the sudden absence of alcohol, withdrawal seizures can cause lasting damage. Some patients experience status epilepticus — that is a prolonged seizure state or series of seizures that come one after the other — which can lead to disability or death.

Delirium Tremens

Substance abuse treatment programs are prepared to handle clients who experience delirium tremens. This is the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptom, as it involves a combination of symptoms that can lead to death. You may start to experience delirium tremens two to three days after your last d drink. Symptoms of delirium tremens may include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Stupor
  • Agitation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased rate of respiration

You may also have a rapid heart rate and feel confused or disoriented. Hallucinations are also common symptoms of delirium tremens. If you have a history of daily binging, poor health, liver disease, or seizures, you are at high risk for deliriums tremens.

Get Help for Alcohol Withdrawal at Renaissance Recovery

Alcohol detox should never be taken lightly. As a core component of any quality addiction treatment program, professional detox provides clients with a safer alternative to detoxing at home. A person going through detox under medical supervision has everything they need to complete this first stage or recovery without worrying about life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

At Renaissance Recovery, we are committed to ensuring that you are safe during the alcohol detox. We provide a complete treatment program that helps you manage your alcohol withdrawal symptoms and helps you move forward into the next stage of recovery. Call Renaissance Recovery today at [Direct] and learn more about your treatment options for alcohol use disorder.

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Pat C

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country