Managing Brain Fog During Recovery
If you are withdrawing from alcohol use and experience severe brain fog or inability to concentrate, consult with a physician or addiction treatment specialist to learn about effective ways to manage poor cognitive function. Your health professional will consider your overall medical history in determining the right treatment to help you.
You may be prescribed medications to reduce anxiety and improve mental focus. In some cases, supplements can help to provide additional nutrients to the brain for improved function. Increasing your daily exercise, eating a healthy diet and ensuring your get high quality sleep can also help improve cognitive function. Engaging in hobby activities you enjoy can also provide mental stimulation, to help calm and regulate brain waves.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline & Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal creates a range of undesirable mental and medical symptoms. Although the effects are somewhat predictable, there is no way to know with certainty which symptoms will emerge and how intense they will become for each person.
- Common Withdrawal Symptoms
Like with other drugs of abuse, alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur in a way that opposes the intoxicating effects. With intoxication, alcohol makes people feel calm and relaxed, but alcohol withdrawal produces symptoms like:
- Their history with addiction to other substances
- Family addiction history
- Pre-existing mental and physical health conditions
So, a person over 30 with anxiety who has been a daily heavy drinker for a long time will have a much greater risk of serious withdrawal than someone under 30 with no co-occurring mental health conditions and short-term alcohol use. At times, a persons previous experiences with withdrawal can be the best predictor of future withdrawal, so individuals and professionals should always assess detoxification history.
Across the board, heavy alcohol users report withdrawal symptoms more than those who do not drink heavily. Heavy alcohol users double their risk for hallucinations during withdrawal, being 2.4 times more likely than moderate or light alcohol users to experience them.
Compared to others during detox, The Recovery Village found heavy drinkers were:
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal refers to the physical and mental effects a person experiences after stopping prolonged and heavy alcohol use. When you suddenly stop drinking, your body is deprived of the effects of alcohol and requires time to adjust to functioning without it. Depending on how long you have used alcohol and how much you typically drink, the severity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe.
This article discusses the causes, common symptoms, and different stages of alcohol withdrawal. It also discusses various treatment options for alcohol withdrawal and how you can get help.
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Common Drugs And Their Associated Post
Certain drugs are known to result in more severe post-acute withdrawal symptoms, such as:
Several studies indicate that sudden discontinued use of can result in post-acute withdrawal syndrome upon completion of acute detox. Common PAWS from Marijuana include insomnia, anxiety, irritability, headaches and other physical symptoms, such as stomach pain and changes in appetite.
Common PAWS for Methamphetamine include poor impulse control, disturbed sleep or insomnia, and irritability.
Common PAWS from Opioids include insomnia, depression, anxiety, intense cravings, muscle tension, and poor impulse control.
Cocaine is known for various PAWS that last for prolonged periods of time. Many users report symptoms of depression, fatigue, low motivation, and poor impulse control.
Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Ativan and Klonopin, are known for having common PAWS, including intense anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, and severe sleep disturbances, including insomnia.
Support Groups & Additional Aftercare
Because the effects of alcohol withdrawal on brain function can last for significant amount of time, your attendance at support group meetings can be helpful in understanding your cognitive issues. If necessary, you can also go to treatment aftercare sessions to help support your recovery. Counseling sessions and medication may be necessary to help you get through the adjustment period, as your brain and body chemistry returns to normal.
Recovery from alcohol addiction can be difficult, but if you know what to expect, you can make the necessary adjustments along the way that will minimize the disturbance. Symptoms like brain fog and poor concentration can impact everyday life, but they are seldom lasting effects. If you continue to implement your recovery plan and take a proactive approach, you will be able to manage lingering problems with greater success.
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What Is The Connection Between Alcohol And Fatigue
Alcohol is a depressant drug that affects the brain and nervous system. This drug dulls the senses, which can effect speaking, walking, and coherent thought. The link between alcohol and fatigue is based on the characteristics of the drug. This drug puts a significant strain on the central nervous system, which causes general fatigue and tiredness. Too much alcohol will cause an individual to sleep or pass out.
Alcoholism is a disease that affects many people throughout the world. This causes an individual to become dysfunctional in his daily life. Most alcoholics suffer from symptoms of fatigue. This is because the body is constantly processing and removing the poisons after alcohol is consumed. The symptoms of alcohol use and fatigue are tightly integrated because alcohol is a harmful chemical for the liver and brain, which causes the human body to become stressed.
A hangover is a normal response to excessive drinking, which typically occurs many hours after alcohol consumption. The symptoms of a hangover include nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. These ailments can continue for several hours, while the alcohol processes through the organs of the human body. Alcohol and fatigue have a cause-and-effect relationship because drinking too much alcohol will generate fatigue in most people.
How To Cope With Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
If youre experiencing fatigue or any other withdrawal symptom associated with coming off of stimulants, you should schedule an appointment with a physician as soon as possible. Although the body will naturally rid itself of amphetamine, the active ingredient in most stimulants, within 1 to 2 weeks after an individual stops using, the withdrawal symptoms can often be too much for most people to bear. That said, most physicians will prescribe medication to combat the specific withdrawal symptoms an individual is experiencing. For example, if an individual is dealing with bouts of depression or suicidal thoughts, the physician will prescribe antidepressants, which they will take until the stimulants are no longer in the body. As far as feelings of fatigue are concerned, the physician may recommend the following:
- Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Adopting and sticking to a regular sleep schedule
- Engaging in calming activities before going to bed
Although the body will eventually rid itself of stimulants over time, these lifestyle changes can go a long way toward boosting low energy levels. Also, taking medication prescribed by your physician can help ease some of the other symptoms associated with stimulant withdrawal.
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Outlook For Alcohol Withdrawal
The long-term outlook for someone experiencing alcohol withdrawal is highly dependent on what happens after detox. Meaningful recovery comes from a strong commitment to an extended period of treatment after detox.
Professional detox is a vital first step, but alone, it is not enough to change the dysfunctional behavior patterns that result in addiction and dependence. To control the outlook and shape their future, a person whos finished their detox should invest plenty of time and energy into ongoing treatment for their addiction and co-occurring disorders.
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Ways To Get In Contact With Us
If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with a substance abuse issue and are unsure of what to do, contact us today.
There are a variety of confidential, free, and no obligation ways to get in contact with us to learn more about treatment.
- Fill in our online insurance verification form below to find out if your insurance provider may be able to cover the cost of treatment. Our admissions advisors may contact you thereafter to discuss your options.
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When Does Alcohol Withdrawal Brain Fog Go Away
Those first early days of recovery can sometimes feel like you arent making much progress. In fact, you may find that instead of floating on a pink cloud, you feel like you are trying to see through one. Brain fog is a common withdrawal symptom that can interfere with your ability to think clearly. You may worry that you will never feel normal again, and it is very common for people in early recovery to wonder if theyve done irreversible damage to their brain. Fuzzy thinking is annoying, but it does get better. Understanding when alcohol withdrawal brain fog goes away gives you hope that helps you to maintain momentum during your recovery.
You can rest assured that brain fog goes away just like your other withdrawal symptoms. While the time line is different for everyone, you should start to notice differences in your mental acuity as you make your way through the detox process. Most people find that they are thinking much better within the first week, and their ability to make decisions and remember information only continues to improve as they make progress in their recovery. Your experience should be similar, and you can always ask the staff at the treatment center if your challenges with thinking are normal.
Take Our Am I An Alcoholic Self
Take our free, 5-minute Am I an Alcoholic? self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder . The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of an AUD. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
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Dangers Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Moderate-to-severe alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens, has a mortality rate of 1-4%.8,12
Experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms is somewhat rare, however, it can be difficult to predict those who will experience them and those who will only experience mild withdrawal symptoms.8 Despite this, studies have identified some predictors of severe alcohol withdrawal . These include:5,13
- Heavy daily alcohol use.
Stage : Mild Withdrawal
Stage 1 is considered mild withdrawal. Mild withdrawal symptoms often begin within 6 to 12 hours after your last drink.
These first symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Moderate anxiety
- Rapid, shallow breathing
These symptoms generally appear 12 to 24 hours after your last drink. While these symptoms are more severe than Stage 1, they are not life-threatening.
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Cold Turkey Vs Tapering
If you have been using alcohol heavily, it is never recommended to simply quit cold turkey. Quitting cold turkey is widely regarded as a dangerous move for the simple fact that it can trigger seizures and other dangerous side effects. In order to avoid seizures and minimize withdrawal symptoms, it is important to gradually taper off of alcohol. Those who quit cold turkey or taper too quickly will likely experience significantly more severe withdrawal symptoms.
In order to successfully taper off of alcohol, it is best to come up with some sort of tapering protocol based on how much you currently drink . On average it is recommended to reduce your alcohol consumption by about 2 drinks per day until you are down to zero. So if you start at 30 drinks a day, cut down to 28 drinks your second day, 26 your third day, etc. until you have reached zero.
Although you may be highly motivated to kick your drinking habit and function sober, it is recommended to avoid trying to taper too quickly. If you have been drinking consistently, you should not be making drastic cuts in the amount of alcohol you drink daily. People who drop from 25 drinks per day to 10 drinks then 0 drinks are going to likely end up with very debilitating withdrawal symptoms some of which may be dangerous.
What Does Brain Fog Feel Like
Most people who have dealt with alcohol addiction have some idea of what brain fog feels like because it is very similar to how you might feel after a round of heavy drinking. Even a mild binge can lead to hangovers that create foggy thinking. During brain fog, you may experience any or all of the following symptoms.
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of focus
- fear that youll always feel this way
After the first few days of recovery, you will start to notice that the brain fog seems to lessen. You may have breakthrough moments when you can suddenly think clearly, but then these are followed by moments of fuzzy thinking. This is all very normal, but the fluctuations in your thought process are a sure sign that you are getting better.
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You May Have Been Used To Drinking In Excess Passing Out And Then Waking Up In The Morning
Even if you didnt feel that your drinking interfered with your sleep, its very likely that your alcoholism has harmed your sleep patterns and overall sleep health. After finishing an alcohol detox program, some people find that theyre having trouble with sleep and exhaustion after quitting alcohol. So, whats causing this post alcohol fatigue, and what can be done about it?
WhatCauses Exhaustion and Sleep Problems After Quitting Alcohol?
Ifyoure struggling with exhaustion after quitting alcohol, youre likely dealingwith sleep issues that are the culprit of your exhaustion. Sleep problems afterquitting alcohol are more common than you may think, and there are severalfactors that can cause them. This post alcohol fatigue can be caused by1:
- Disruptions to your circadian rhythm from heavyalcohol consumption
- Liver damage, which influences energy levels
Eachfactor has a different influence on sleep and thus on exhaustion after quittingalcohol. Chronic drinking can cause disruptions to your bodys natural wake andsleep cycles which can result in sleep problems afterquitting alcohol. Additionally, alcohol dehydrates your body, which can causerecovery fatigue.
HowLiver Damage Can Cause Exhaustion After Quitting Alcohol
FightingExhaustion After Quitting Alcohol
- Staying hydrated
The Connection Between Fatigue And Recovery
If you had a substance abuse problem but are now sober and very tired, you are not alone. Feeling tired after quitting alcohol is especially common. It takes time for your body to adjust to your new life in the meantime, you may be left feeling exhausted.
Lethargy is a common withdrawal symptom for many substances. While insomnia and sleep disturbances may peak during a medical detox, they often dont completely disappear when the process is over. These withdrawal symptoms can linger and people who are months out of detox may still struggle.
Part of the reason for early sobriety exhaustion is your body trying to adjust to the absence of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol can disrupt REM and the sleep cycle. People who abuse drugs may also go on binges and not sleep for days at a time. Together, these problems can interfere with a persons circadian rhythm, their internal clock that regulates their sleep and waking schedule. Especially if you used drugs or alcohol to help you fall asleep in the past, your body needs time to learn to fall asleep on its own again.
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Can You Prevent It
Treating alcohol withdrawal is a short-term fix that doesn’t help the core problem. When you talk to your doctor about symptom relief, it’s a good idea to discuss treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence. The doctor can give you advice to help you stop drinking.
Royal College of Physicians: Alcohol Use Disorders: Diagnosis and Clinical Management of Alcohol-Related Physical Complications. NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 100.”
American Academy of Family Physicians: “Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome.”
Alcohol Health & Research World: “Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal,” “Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal,” “Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal.”
State Government of Victoria: “Withdrawal.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Care of the Patient Undergoing Alcohol Withdrawal.”
UpToDate: “Patient education: Alcohol use — when is drinking a problem? .”
Industrial Psychiatry Journal: Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: A systematic review.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal is caused by the body and brain chemistry re-adjusting to a lack of alcohol when a drinker quits. Chronic alcohol consumption changes brain chemistry in the following ways:
- Alcohol inhibits the functionality of GABA, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of relaxation.
- Alcohol also inhibits the effect of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of excitability.
When a person stops drinking, these neurotransmitters react by working feverishly. They exhibit a rebound effect and go on overdrive.
There is also a dangerous phenomenon called alcohol kindling effect. The withdrawal becomes more and more severe each time, even if the amount of alcohol consumed is the same or even reduced.
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Alcohol Abuse & Misuse
Misuse of alcohol, often called alcohol abuse, refers to excessive alcohol use or any other way that can place you at risk for experiencing physical, mental health and social problems.2
Having more than 1 drink daily for women or 2 drinks daily for men is generally considered alcohol misuse.2 Binge drinking, a form of alcohol misuse, is when a man has 5 or more drinks or a woman has 4 or more drinks within a short period of time.2,3
Binge drinking or alcohol misuse can increase someones risk of developing alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism or having an alcohol addiction.4 AUD is a disease characterized by the inability to control alcohol use despite negative, harmful consequences. Craving alcohol, having a tolerance to the effects of alcohol, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop drinking are but some of the criteria that point toward having AUD.2,4 When a person has a physiological dependence on alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced after they significantly reduce or stop drinking an be extremely distressing and uncomfortable, and people commonly return to drinking alcohol as a way of relieving their discomfort.4