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What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Fatigue?

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Fatigue is an extremely common, but often overlooked, effect of alcohol withdrawal. Sometimes referred to as alcohol withdrawal lethargy, this symptom can be quite disruptive, and may persist long after most other symptoms have subsided.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, Peachtree Recovery Solutions can help. We work with close partners in the area to guide individuals to alcohol detox in Atlanta before coming to our outpatient rehab programs. Call us now at 678-325-7250 or verify your insurance now.

What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?

When you develop alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction or alcoholism), your body will adapt to the near continuous presence of the drug. If you then abruptly quit drinking, or are prevented from using alcohol for a certain period, your body will have to readjust to its sudden absence. 

This readjustment can cause a variety of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms, which are referred to collectively as alcohol withdrawal.

The type, intensity, and duration of the symptoms you experience during alcohol withdrawal can be influenced by a variety of personal factors, such as:

  • Your age, gender, weight, and metabolism
  • How long you have been abusing alcohol
  • How much (and how frequently) you usually drink
  • If you have any co-occurring dual diagnosis disorders

Usually, alcohol withdrawal involves symptoms such as:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Fatigue, exhaustion, and lethargy

If you have been drinking heavily for an extended period, you may be at risk of developing a particularly severe set of withdrawal symptoms that are known as delirium tremens, or the DTs. The DTs can cause:

  • Extreme disorientation 
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Seizure

In addition to being a source of considerable physical and emotional distress, the DTs can also be dangerous. Experts estimate that, in the absence of effective medical treatment, the fatality rate among people who develop the DTs could be as high as 37%.

Thankfully, only about 3%-5% of people who go through alcohol withdrawal develop the DTs – and with proper care, more than 95% of these individuals will survive the experience.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Fatigue?

Discussions of withdrawal often focus on the more dramatic or dangerous symptoms, such as mood swings, vivid nightmares, physical pain, and of course the DTs. But you should not underestimate the significance of alcohol withdrawal lethargy.

First, alcohol withdrawal lethargy can be a sign of other health concerns, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Insomnia
  • Stress
  • Liver damage

Second, alcohol withdrawal lethargy can make it difficult for you to maintain your motivation to participate in treatment and resist relapse. As your other withdrawal symptoms dissipate and you begin to regain your physical and mental strength, enduring alcohol withdrawal lethargy can undermine your recovery efforts.

How to Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Fatigue

Alcohol withdrawal lethargy is also referred to as sobriety fatigue and sobriety lethargy. This alludes to the fact that this condition can persist well beyond the typical withdrawal timeline. 

Even after you have completed treatment, you may struggle with subpar energy levels or find yourself easily exhausted. The good news is that there are ways to manage this fatigue and diminish its negative impact. Here are a few tips that can make a world of difference:

  • Eat well: When you were in the throes of active addiction, it’s unlikely that you followed a healthy diet plan. As you advance in your recovery, you need to be sure you are fueling your body with proper nutrients. This can help you heal from the damage that your body incurred as a result of your alcohol abuse. It can also increase your energy levels and help you stave off fatigue.
  • Stay hydrated: Both active alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal can have a dehydrating effect on your body. Alcohol itself is a diuretic, which means that it increases the elimination of water from your system. During withdrawal, lack of appetite, nausea, and other symptoms can also prevent you from consuming and retaining an ample amount of water.
  • Stay active: At first, this may seem counterintuitive. If you’re already exhausted, won’t additional activity make the problem worse? The truth is that staying active can actually boost your energy. Walking, bike riding, and other forms of enjoyable recreation can strengthen your muscles and improve your mindset – both of which can counteract the effects of alcohol withdrawal lethargy.
  • Get help: This can take many forms. A dietician or nutritional counselor can help you develop healthy eating habits. A personal trainer or a workout buddy can keep you accountable and ensure that you’re getting an ample amount of exercise. A therapist our counselor can help you address the psychological impact of continued fatigue and other recovery-related challenges.

The potential impact of persistent fatigue underscores the importance of seeking appropriate treatment after you’ve completed alcohol withdrawal. While you are in residential or outpatient care, you can learn how to identify and respond to symptoms or circumstances that could threaten to derail your withdrawal efforts, such as physical and psychological exhaustion.

Begin Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Atlanta

Peachtree Recovery Solutions is a trusted provider of personalized outpatient treatment for adults who have become dependent on alcohol and other addictive substances.

Your options at our alcohol rehab in Atlanta, Georgia, include a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), an evening IOP, and an outpatient program (OP). We also offer gender-specific services for both men and women, as well as a vibrant aftercare program.

Our team will work closely with you to identify the full scope of your needs and determine which programs and services will best prepare you for successful, long-term recovery.To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.