See how we're keeping patients and staff safe with our Covid-19 protocols.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Medication Work?

Back to All Blogs


Published: September 1, 2016

Detoxing from alcohol dependence is a difficult process. In fact, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even fatal if not properly managed. Licensed alcohol detox programs play an important role in this part of early recovery. Alcohol withdrawal medication also helps medical professionals comfort patients enduring the symptoms of withdrawal.

Why You Need Alcohol Withdrawal Medication

Withdrawal symptoms usually start to appear about five to ten hours after the addicted person has had his or her last drink. Withdrawal symptoms usually start with shaky hands, sometimes followed by severe symptoms like seizures and hallucinations. The severity of withdrawal side effects depends upon how long patients abused alcohol, how much they regularly drank and underlying health conditions. Common symptoms of the first day of withdrawal include sweating, fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, insomnia, nausea and vomiting. One to two days after withdrawal symptoms begin is the most uncomfortable phase of alcohol detox. During the first two days, patients may experience seizures, panic attacks, night terrors and hallucinations. For up to a week after the patient’s last drink, shakiness, mood swings and anxiety can continue. Delirium tremens is also a potential serious side effect. As part of medical detox, professionals carefully monitor patients. They can prescribe medications to keep patients physically balanced and to prevent complications. Available drugs can prevent seizures, treat co-occurring psychological disorders and reduce cravings.

Commonly Used Alcohol Withdrawal Medication

Medical professionals can administer a variety of medications during detox. These can range from over-the-counter products meant to help with headaches and less severe symptoms, to prescribed drugs used for more serious side effects of withdrawal. Two of the most commonly used types of alcohol detox medications include benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants. Benzodiazepines help with psychological problems of withdrawal, such as anxiety. They also can be used to prevent seizures, particularly when combined with anti-seizure medication. Because of their addictive nature, benzos shouldn’t be used outside of a medically supervised detox program for alcohol withdrawal. Some of the prescribed medications used for alcohol detox include:

  • Ativan
  • Lorazepam
  • Valium
  • Diazepam
  • Tranxene

Beyond Detox from Alcohol, Recovery Begins

For men and women, detox is only the first step in recovery from alcohol addiction. After detox, it’s important that you get rehab treatment and therapies needed to prevent relapse and keep addiction at bay for lifelong sobriety. For patients ready to regain control over their lives, Lakeview Health in Jacksonville, Florida provides a gender-responsive continuum of care. This Joint Commission-accredited treatment includes on-site medically supervised detox. If you or someone you love is ready to gain true freedom from alcohol addiction, medically supervised detox is the first step. Call Lakeview Health at 866-704-7692 to learn more about available programs.

Related posts



Empowering Profound Recovery

While we aim to provide accurate and up to date information on substance use and treatment for Substance Use Disorder, the information found on this site is for general knowledge purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as medical advice or guidance in any way. Always follow the treatment plan and guidance outlined by your trusted medical provider.

We are now offering an optional Covid-19 vaccine to all patients upon admission to keep our community safe.

Learn More Here