More serious withdrawal cases may experience hallucinations and even seizures, which is why it’s important to have medical supervision while undergoing detox.
In about 5 percent of alcohol withdrawal cases, the patient experiences something called delirium tremens (DTs). During this phenomenon, a patient undergoing withdrawal will experience vivid hallucinations and delusions, along with:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Intense confusion
- Fever and heavy sweating
In cases where DTs occur, they will typically begin between 48 and 72 after the patient begins to detox.
It’s important to remember that alcohol detox goes in stages, so if a patient doesn’t experience one of the above symptoms of withdrawal at the beginning, it doesn’t mean they won’t at some point.
For example, the first phase usually involves anxiety, shakiness, and trouble sleeping, which patients experience for roughly 24-48 hours. The next 24-48 hours is considered to be stage 2, in which high blood pressure and increased heart rate, as well as fever and intense sweating, may occur. In most cases, these symptoms continue until the end of detox, but in severe cases, patients may experience seizures hallucinations during stage 3.