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Is Confusion a Serious Symptom of Alcohol Withdrawal?

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If you have a problem with alcohol, you are not alone as more than 15 million Americans are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, according to a study published by globenewswire.com, one of the world’s largest newswire distribution networks. Even those who do not officially have an alcohol abuse disorder admit to binge drinking at least once per month, the study goes on to state. While more Americans are choosing to put alcohol abuse behind them, many are woefully unprepared for the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with detox. Although all of the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol cessation are taxing on the body, alcohol delirium tremens, which affects 3 to 5 percent of individuals, is arguably one of the most serious.


Alcohol withdrawal delirium tremens, also known simply as alcohol withdrawal delirium, is a condition that occurs while an individual is going through detox, typically 1 or 2 days after alcohol has left their bloodstream. And for this reason, most physicians and addiction experts will advise those who are ready to end their relationship with alcohol to seek treatment at a licensed rehab facility. For those who are not familiar with alcohol withdrawal delirium, it is a condition characterized by the rapid onset of severe problems in both the brain and nervous system. In many cases, the condition can give way to seizures and severe confusion as well.


Researchers and scientists that have studied this phenomenon have not been able to pinpoint why some individuals will develop alcohol withdrawal delirium once they stop drinking while others do not; however, they have concluded that the following can be contributing factors:

  • A sudden decrease in alcohol consumption
  • Sudden alcohol cessation
  • Not eating while consuming alcohol
  • Head trauma

It is important to note that those with a long history of abusing alcohol as well as those who drink excessively have a higher chance of developing alcohol withdrawal delirium. The same applies to individuals with a history of seizures and those who have sustained brain damage.


Along with severe confusion, alcohol withdrawal delirium can also trigger the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Nightmares
  • Mood instability
  • Excitement
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Delirium
  • Delusions
  • Easily startled

Along with these psychological symptoms, many individuals who develop alcohol withdrawal delirium will also find themselves having to contend with some of the following physical symptoms as well:

  • Vision and breathing problems
  • High fevers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Stomach cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Unusual muscle contractions

It is worth noting that these symptoms can vary in intensity based on how long an individual has been drinking and how much alcohol they were consuming prior to quitting. Nonetheless, they can all make confusion brought on by alcohol withdrawal that much worse.


Alcohol-related dementia is yet another condition that can trigger severe confusion. However, unlike alcohol withdrawal delirium, which is caused by alcohol cessation, alcohol-related dementia occurs when individuals drink excessively. According to a study published by the Alzheimer’s Society, a United Kingdom care and research charity for people with dementia, consuming large amounts of alcohol over a prolonged time causes brain damage, which can eventually lead to dementia, a condition that causes a decline in memory, language, problem-solving, and other thinking skills. Alcohol-related dementia symptoms are no different than dementia that is not correlated with an alcohol abuse disorder. Therefore, those who develop this condition will likely experience the following:

  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Impaired coordination of motor function skills
  • Difficulty comprehending or carrying out complex tasks
  • An inability to effectively reason
  • Trouble planning or organizing tasks

Similar to those with alcohol withdrawal delirium, individuals that develop alcohol-related dementia will also experience a wide range of psychological symptoms as well, some of which may include

  • Confusion
  • Delirium
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in personality
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Engaging in inappropriate behavior

Although several conditions can trigger alcohol-related confusion, those detailed in this article are among the most common. And some may even argue that they are the most serious, especially alcohol withdrawal delirium tremens. If you’re ready to end your relationship with alcohol and also lower your chances of developing alcohol withdrawal delirium or alcohol-related dementia in the process, consider speaking with one of our friendly addiction experts today at 877-497-6180.

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