Brain Fog: Causes, How It Feels, Managing It

“Lightheaded, dizzy, no sleep, pale, weak, and it feels like electric shocks shoot through my body every so often. Crazy anxiety.” “The more time that goes by, the clearer the picture becomes. I see my triggers, and I work through them. I’m always thirsty and drink a lot of water. I’m still not sleeping through the night.” “Still having cravings and thinking a lot about drinking. I’m so exhausted, though, and nauseated, I would probably get sick if I had a drink. I have noticed the cravings for sugar. Raw sugar snap peas take the edge off that.”

  • “Starting to feel a little better. If I had the money, I would have gone to a 30-day rehab. I am still having shakes now and again. My head is in a fog constantly.”
  • In a person with an addiction to benzodiazepines, for example, lasting withdrawal symptoms can stem from functional changes to the neuroreceptors in the central nervous system.
  • “I needed professional help, as I had severe withdrawal symptoms of a DT nature with hallucinations, a possible seizure, and fear I would fall over dead any second. I went to the ER and detoxed five days in the hospital.”

Aim for at least eight hours of sleep each night, and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Even just lounging in a sunny spot can dramatically improve your post-drinking outlook. If you’ve ever wondered what’s really going on in the brain when a person’s had too much to drink, here’s a brief primer. Additional tips include listening to music, practicing mindfulness exercises, and focusing on the positive as much as possible.

Eating a healthy diet

“Haven’t listened to the little voice. Thinking about all the money I’m saving. The only issue besides the little voice is insomnia, but [I’m] getting some sleep. My blood pressure and heart rate have come down to just about normal.” Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to ease for some and just begin to get intense for others. Some have the same symptoms as on day one and ask, “How long does this last?” The urge to relieve those withdrawal symptoms with a drink can be overwhelming. “Most of my withdrawal symptoms are gone, but I still have sharp pains in my head, can’t sleep, and get night sweats.” A healthcare provider may request daily visits during which they will likely run blood tests and monitor vital signs until symptoms stabilize. The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to alcohol-related harm.

Drinking to avoid feeling bad leads to higher and higher levels of consumption, which can cause greater damage to the brain and the rest of the body. Alcohol kills cells and damages cellular networks in the brain, for example, and it’s not entirely clear to what extent they can grow back. The brain’s hippocampus region—which helps create new memories—is also affected by alcohol, which contributes to blackouts and short-term memory lapses while drinking. According to a 2020 review in the journal Alcohol Research, men and women experience alcohol-induced blackouts at equal rates, even though women tend to drink less often and less heavily than men. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking for women as consuming eight or more drinks per week and for men as consuming 15 or more drinks per week. Withdrawal happens because your brain gets used to the depressive effects of alcohol.

Direct effects of alcohol on the brain

You’ll likely begin to feel better between five to seven days after you stop drinking, though some symptoms—like changes in sleep patterns, fatigue, and mood swings—can last for weeks or months. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal relate proportionately to the level of alcohol intake and the duration of the person’s recent drinking alcohol brain fog habit. “After alcohol withdrawal, the CRF stress hormone is released from the hypothalamus, a brain region that controls many functions,” Kim said. During acute withdrawal, the body is healing from the substance misuse. The effects can be life threatening, and it is important to undergo acute withdrawal with medical supervision.

  • Treatment may take place at a hospital or at an inpatient detox center.
  • Those persistent symptoms might have some other cause than alcohol withdrawal.
  • The duration can vary from person to person, and the substance involved may play a role.
  • They may include trouble with sleep and memory, mood swings, and other symptoms of mental health conditions.
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild but annoying to severe and life-threatening.

It is vital to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. This organ is responsible for filtering toxins from the blood and converting nutrients into energy. Behavioral health treatment for alcohol problems is often (but not always) covered by insurance. In the United States, most states have low-cost or free rehabilitation programs for those who are uninsured.