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Anxiety/panic attacks from alcohol withdrawal? thread.

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Had issues all through college regarding tests (even though i knew i was smart). Started drinking to alleviate that anxiety and did well because of it. Excelled even.

Short while after graduation got married, got successful job, and working my way up corporate ladder. Since then, the following 2 years I've been a moderate drinker on and off. I had a 9 month reprieve where a mild head injury halted all drinking because of medication. Since then, the last 2 years (now 27) i've been a heavy drinker (minimum 6-8 oz liquor or beers per night). I've always managed to convince myself it's not that much, but it is.

Anxiety has been bad, BAD, the last year. Gotten MUCH worse than before. Not so bad that i cant function, but bad enough that i know i'm not kicking ass the way i should be. Due to this thread, i'm going to try my best and make some serious lifestyle changes. Thank you for your experiences.
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here's how I see it:
I was always a bit anxious as a child, always an over-analyzer. Then I was introduced to alcohol and I thought I found a solution to it. I drank for three years, almost four times a week at one point, always in social situations, never home..
Last year, I could see myself going off a hill as it was making my anxiety worse, until i started having these panic attacks everytime i drank to hide the worsening anxiety but by then i was in love, which is yet another addiction hard to break off, when you have to choose to see her everywhere, on TV, at the billboards, at work and with friends... unless you move out and let the memory fade. It took a while to come to the decision to quit for a year, handled the daily pressure which was tough in the beginning, picked up new hobbies, started working out, anxiety was getting better, until last week, after a long month's consideration, I gave it another shot.
Felt so good, all my anxiety and worries would pop-out clean and then come back with a vengence. Could stop at a couple at first, but as i started being reminded of how it feels to finally touch her while I could only see her for nearly a year, the anxiety got worse, the drinking got worse and within another week, i had put myself in another panic attack which was so bad that I used more alcohol to hide it for a few days. Finally built up the courage to live through. Had the worst panic attacks, the worst shakes i had witnessed. It is hard to describe. Back to square one, but i learned. If i ever drink again, it will be when I am certain this cycle will not repeat itself. Will need to get the anxiety treated to the point where drinking will not be needed to relieve it. When I know for a certain that i will stop at a couple and if it hurts after stopping at a couple, i will resist it and if I don't get there, will never drink again. I drink to relieve mental symptoms, normal people drink to enjoy a little, and don't need it to relieve anything. Hopefully i keep this lesson in my memory for a while, i have to. I can't afford to call in sick for a week, put my life in jeopardy and let the problem become worse that it is. I just have to keep it in mind and get the cravings and urges and anxiety cleared out of my head and until then, continue to live life as a sugar lover with diabetes.
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well i am realy glad that i fmanaged to find that forum and topic in interent, cuz i have had exactli same problems, heavy drinking form 16 to 20 and now i have had withdrawal almoust 5 months. I feel so good that i am not only one. the thought that i am going crazy was on my mind was also in my mind for real big time
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OK

I found this forum a few weeks ago and read a lot of the comments. It was refreshing to read since at the time I was having absolutely horrible panic attacks from withdrawal. Right now I am at 10 days of sobriety and I feel pretty good. The first few days were absolute hell and I thought I was losing my mind.

Problem is, I LOVE to get drunk. More than any thing. The feeling I have when I'm hammered is great. I cannot get drunk on beer or wine so it has to be liquor. However I am very afraid of the panic attacks starting back up if I get drunk again. It's a lot worse cos this is 4th of july weekend and I'm off for 3 days.

the thing is I've been drinking since I was 15, I'm 28 now. I'd say I've been drinking heavily for the past 6 years. I'm thinking about seeing the doc but I have terrible paranoia with hospitals since my grandpa (more like my real dad) died last year at the local hospital. I think his death is one of the sources of my panic attacks. I had never felt such emotional pain as when he died. I never lived with my real dad but my grandpa lived with me pretty much my whole life.

I'm not sure if my insurance covers a psychologist, maybe I should look into that.

thanks to this thread I dont feel alone any more, lol
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yeah I just made a post as a guest so I figure it'll take a few minutes to show up.

Damn my panic attacks from withdrawal are gone (it's been 10 days) but I am dying for a drink right now. I am off for 3 days cos of 4th of july weekend.

Damn
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I am so glad that I found this thread. I have had panic attacks for the last few years, averaging one every couple of months. Lately, they have been happening much more frequently. The first time I had one was the scariest experience of my life. I was 22 and in good shape. My arms and legs starting tingling very strongly, my fingers bunched together and curled up, my heart was racing and it felt difficult to breathe. Strangest of all, I felt like I was tripping, like I was having a psychotic break on a hallucinogen.

I have been a drinker since I was 18, and a heavy drinker for three years since I was 22. For the past year, I have been drinking almost every day. The low end of the spectrum would be around 8 beers. The high end would be a 1.75 of hard liquor over the course of a full day and night. I have been trying to cut back my alcohol consumption, but I haven't been able to quit for over a day without feeling very anxious and uncomfortable.

Sometimes when I start to feel like I might have a panic attack, I go straight for the alcohol, and it usually calms me down. I feel like I am in a catch-22 situation. The alcohol will put off the panic attack for the time being, but might lead to one the next day. I do not want to quit drinking, I would like to cut it back to around 2 days a week, like I used to do. It has really gotten out of control this past year, in part because of several very stressful situations in my life (financial trouble, getting arrested and having to go on probation, my wife's immigration status, death in the family).

Starting tonight, I am going to try to decrease my alcohol consumption. I plan on drinking a 40oz at night, and than stopping. After maybe a week of that, I will try and skip drinking some nights entirely. I have to try and balance it so that my body is getting some alcohol, but less than usual so I don't shock my system. I am hoping that will work. Going cold turkey seems out of the question for me, the panic attacks and withdrawal are too much to bear...
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I found that drinking hard liquor makes the attacks worse than when drinking beer. And if I wake up still kinda buzzed and start drinking more that makes it way worse when I wake up again.

My advice is don't drink hard liquor and be sober for at least 10 hours before drinking again.

And eat before going to bed.
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I'm familiar with the downward spiral of anxiety and alcohol, but I didn't know that it was such a universal experience. I had a panic attack while in class at college, but managed to ride it out without anyone noticing. I was terrified and convinced that I needed to go to a hospital, but also felt incredibly fearful about the awkward prospect of causing a scene in front of dozens of people I didn't know. I researched my symptoms and realized I had had a panic attack, but I didn't get help. I wish I had; I haven't had another full fledged episode but I have limited symptom attacks on a regular basis.

I'm 25 and have been drinking heavily since I was 18; in the last few years, almost every single night. At this point, the daily trip back to the trough for more alcohol after recuperating from a hangover is humiliating, but it's my only option to avoid the paranoia, anxiety, and despair.

I'm drinking as I type this because I couldn't ward off the anxiety, even though I want to stop this. I start work at a new job tomorrow and I'm dreading having a nasty hangover on my first day. I was between jobs for about a month and a half, and had my worst binge ever. A lot are probably familiar with the get drunk, pass out, wake up, hungover, get drunk cycle. I don't even want to look at my bank account statement.

I used to be a sociable person but I've slowly become more and more withdrawn in the last couple years and am now basically agoraphobic. After my last binge I realize I need to stop and I'm finally starting to consider getting help. The depression, the shakes, and wasting all of my income on booze is getting old. I've felt really hopeless for a long time but I'm starting to realize that I don't have to live my life this way.
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think i'm going through the same thing. i'm 24, and have been drinking heavily for about 5 years. i don't necessarily want to stop drinking, but i think i have to for the time being. i had a severe panic attack several months ago the morning after drinking a bottle of whiskey. my limbs got tingly and my vision was spinning. i had a hard time breathing and talking. definitely thought something was seriously wrong. i have had panic attacks before, but never that bad. since then, every time i drank (even if it was just a few beers) the next day has been like a dream-world. everything seems off and i can't relate to people at all. lately i have been drinking one or two beers a night every couple of days and i still feel generally like i am in an altered state and it is hard to do simple stuff and i have had panic attacks off and on. i've also noticed that i have pretty much lost my appetite and i feel like i am tired and out of breath almost all the time. actually reading this thread made me feel a little bit better that i am not losing my mind forever. thanks.
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Can anybody tell me if the panic attacks continue after being sober for a while? I am on my 11th day of sobriety and don't feel as anxious as I had, but not leaving the house till I know I am completely over the attacks too. My withdrawl symptoms seem to come on really strong every other day. I can't wait to finally sleep normal again.
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Glad to find this thread as it has helped me understand what is going on with me. I have been a heavy drinker for quite a few years but started getting drunk every night for the past 2 on whiskey. I got a new job then where I work from home which gave me the opportunity to stay up late and sleep in. It became fun to stay up after my wife went to bed and get drunk and watch sports i couldn't watch while she was awake. I never considered myself an alcholic because I always knew I could stop. I was home all day alone with the whiskey and not once have I ever even been tempted to take a drink until the evening. I never really knew about the physical addiction. About 2 years ago friends came to visit and I drank quite a bit more than usual that night. The next day we were at a restaurant having lunch and all of a sudden a wave of panic came over me. I started sweating and shaking and couldn't eat. I immediately got up and went to the bathroom. I came back to the table and told everyone I was sick and they said it must be from dehydration from drinking so I started chugging a ton of water and in about 30 min I was back to normal. Fast forward to about 2 months ago and I cam home after a long weekend of partying at the beach and as I sat down to eat it happened again. Then a week later it happened again in class taking a final exam (after a night of drinking as I did every night). I fought through it and finished the test. It happened again on my way to have lunch with a friend and then again out to dinner with family. Each time I said I was sick and needed to leave. At first I really thought it was dehydration as I would always drink water afterwards and be fine later but now I realize that I ended up being fine later because I drank everynight so my withdrawal would only last a short time in the late afternoon and then I would be fine from the whiskey. I started developing mild anxiety at the thought of going to to meet people in public for dinner and drinks because that's where the attacks almost always happened. So now my fear of having a panic attack was causing a panic attack. Last weekend I drank alot as usual and woke up panicky Sunday. I always knew this had to do with alcohol but the attacks were so far apart up until recently (never lasted into the next day) it didn't affect me. On Sunday it was bad and the water didn't take it away. I panicked most of the day. I had one beer that night. I thought Monday I would be normal as usual but nope still anxious. Had one beer Monday and Tuesday was still panicky. I knew I could take it away if I just drank but that rode will lead to even worse places. All day I was freaking out about a dinner date that night with friends thinking I would have an attack and have to leave which I would have since I was going to cause it by worrying about it. I had to tell my wife what was going on because I couldn't go to dinner. Tuesday night I had one vodka drink and I woke up yesterday a little better. I started researching non medicinal panic treatment and I kept seeing meditation. So I started reading about it and there is an actual physical retraining that goes on in the mind that helps anxiety/panic. I read the how-to and tried it and was amazed. Yesterday afternoon i left the house and went and shot baskets then after didn't we went and played tennis. I am by no means back to normal after 3 days into withdrawal but this was very encouraging. I woke up this morning anxious again so I meditated for 30 min and my anxiety went from about a 8 to a 4. I also called and scheduled an appointment with a doctor for next Tuesday. I start classes next week and it a cause for panic that I won't be able to go to class. I'll keep you posted. I would also like to hear everyone elses progress. I have read the entire thread twice and see too many single posts with no follow up. If you are doing better let us know as it will encourage the rest of us.
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I can relate to the awful effects of AWS (alcohol withdrawal syndrome). I have had anxiety attacks in which I was sure I was experiencing cardiac arrest. Once I identified the culprit (panic attack- I stop breathing & have to concentrate on taking in deep breaths) the only recourse that made sense was to comfort my worried mind by talking my way out of it. Sounds weird, but it works. I have to remind myself that this is only temporary and not lethal.

However....I also am aware that AWS is very serious and can lead to DT's which in a minimal percentage of cases can cause all sorts of medical emergencies: stroke, seizures, arrythmias and death. The probability of acquiring this dreaded reaction to alcohol withdrawal is small. Even so, since I know what can happen, it tends to make my anxiety worse. So, I continue drinking in the hope of weaning myself off the sauce to lessen the detrimental impact on my autonomic nervous system that withdrawing can have on the dependent brain. Heavy drinkers (like me) are usually unable to wean off ( a couple inevitably leads to a dozen or so) and the cycle is perpetuated. So, if you can see a doctor for help, please do so. The treatment of choice is Valium (long-acting) for 4 days- this prevents DT's- and gradual tapering of drug; Thiamine (depleted in the alcoholic brain- this can cause irreversible brain damage); supportive nutrition & hydration (as many of you have mentioned- appetite suppression is a common symptom). If you can't afford this (or can't take your own advice, like me) then you will have to decide between the 2: be a drunk and accept the consequences of your destructive ways; quit cold-turkey & AWS be damned. After my last binge (14 scotch & waters along with myterious injuries after a trip to black-out island and ominous feelings of intense guilt) I decided to choose the latter. Even if it kills me, I'm going to get sober.

I'm on day 4.6 (yes, that .6 matters) and it's Friday (oh sh*t) & I'm now getting intense cravings while there are 6 bottles of hard liquor down the hall- just beckoning me (husband still drinks- so I won't throw them out). Will the 7th circle of hell that is AWS keep me from imbibing? This time? Who knows. I'm in that scary phase where amnesia of the shame & guilt & remorse are all but gone. God help me.
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I agree that if anyone out there who posted on the thread has any experience and would come back to post on how they're still doing, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
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Well, it's now Tues. morning and I'm following up my post from Thursday. I have had one beer each night since and it's been 10 days since I got drunk last. I have continued to meditate each day (20-30 min) and practice mindfulness breathing techniques whenever I start to feel panic coming on and it really works. I highly recommend looking it up. It is a common treatment for anxiety/panic. Friday I had to go on a fishing trip and I was a little panicky but it was better than Thurs. I probably had about 10 mini episodes that day and I was able to focus my mind by breathing exercises and they only lasted about 20 seconds each time. Sat. the panic episodes were down to about 5 and I was once again able to get through them and refocus. Sunday I only had 1 panic moment and it lasted about 30 seconds. Yesterday I went all day with no issues. I will continue to meditate and I am going to the doctor today. I have gone from day 1 which was absolute hell where I was in deep anxiety all day and had maybe 30 min total all day where I wasn't in a panic. A little over a week later it is almost completely reversed to where I am having less than 20 seconds of panic each day. (none today so far). I start class tonight which will be a big test to see where I am at. I am very hopeful this is temporary. Here is what I did. Hopefully it will help someone get through the worst part of it.
1. STOP DRINKING. There is no way to get through the withdrawal period if you keep getting drunk. Have one or 2 beers a night at most. NO HARD ALCOHOL.
2. Research Mindfulness Meditation. It's not a gimmick and it's very simple. It was developed at the Univ. of Mass. Medical Center. The breathing techniques will help when a panic attack starts. You will be able to pull your mind away from the thoughts causing the panic.
3. EXERCISE. Johns Hopkins has exercise listed as one of the top 10 ways to treat anxiety without meds. (meditation is one also).
4. I drank a protein shake each morning and took a multivitamin.

Good Luck and I will keep you posted.
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