Before I started on this path (exactly one week ago - yay!) I Googled 'alcohol withdrawal symptoms' and I got loads of scary stuff about DTs and seizures. Now, in my many attempts to 'moderate' I've given up drinking for days at a time and never had 'the shakes', despite drinking an average of one and a half bottles of wine a day, so those information sites didn't really help me. What I wanted to know is what myriad of more minor symptoms a heavy drinker like me could expect in the first week or so. So, if any of you are wondering the same thing, here's my answer:
1. Exhaustion. Getting to sleep can be a bit of a challenge as I'm kind of used to an anaesthetic to help me drift off, but once asleep I'm out for the count - just like my children. No more endless waking up in the middle of the night to drink water and wee. No more tossing and turning while wrestling the demons. Seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. You'd think, then, that I'd be filled with boundless energy. Not so! I feel like I've been run over by a truck! I have to have catch up naps in the afternoon like a toddler. I imagine it's a result of my body using up all its energy repairing the damage I've done over a long period of time, so I'm just indulging it.
2. Irritability. A bit like PMT. Particularly when I'm exhausted (see above!), or wrestling with a craving, I can snap. It struck me yesterday, however, that I used to be exactly the same (if not worse) after a couple of glasses of vino, it's just that now I'm aware that I'm doing it and I feel awful about it. When I was drunk I'd feel justified (for whatever warped reason I'd invented) in being cross. Now I say sorry.
3. Mucus. Weird. Constantly running nose. I see it as a tap draining off the toxins. Nice, huh?
4. Constipation. Sorry, but it has to be said. Apparently it's a result of your poor, endlessly dehydrated body desperately trying to catch up on water.
5. Weight gain. Where is the logic (or fairness) in that? By my reckoning, I was drinking about 900 calories a day. Plus, whenever I drank all my willpower disappeared, so I 'd polish off a bar of chocolate. And everyone knows that the best way to cure a hangover (apart from more alcohol!) is binging on carbohydrates. But, one week in and I weigh more! My assumption is that it's down to the dehydration/rehydration thing again. Despite the weight gain I am able to do the belt up an extra notch, so I do reckon (hope!) that it's water not fat. I'll keep you posted on this one, because I am totally expecting to be size zero by the end of the year ;-).
6. Concentration. This is the biggie! No concentration. None. Nada. Zip. All I can think about it not drinking. It goes round and round in my head. And it strikes me that part of the reason I drank so frequently and so much is to shut the voice in my head up. I suspect that we 'alcohol dependants' (I still struggle with the word alcoholic) are often people with over active thoughts who are just looking for a little peace. But now all those thoughts are back. And they have only one thing to chat about - MORE BOOZE.
So, this blog is really helping me, just in terms of getting the thoughts out of my head and onto paper (screen) instead.
I'd love to hear about your alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and to any of you who have taken the time to read this: thank you. x