Signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal occur primarily in the central nervous system. The severity of withdrawal can vary from mild symptoms such as sleep disturbances and anxiety to severe and life-threatening symptoms such as delirium, hallucinations, and autonomic instability. Withdrawal usually begins 6 to 24 hours after the last drink. It can last for up to one week. To be classified as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, patients must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms: increased hand tremor, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, transient hallucinations (auditory, visual or tactile),psychomotor agitation, anxiety, tonic-clonic seizures, and autonomic instability. The severity of symptoms is dictated by a number of factors, the most important of which is degree of alcohol intake, length of time the individual has been using alcohol, and previous history of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms are also grouped together and classified: Alcohol hallucinosis: patients have transient visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations, but are otherwise clear. Withdrawal seizures: seizures occur within 48 hours of alcohol cessations and occur either as a single generalized tonic-clonic seizure or as a brief episode of multiple seizures. Delirium tremens: hyperadrenergic state, disorientation, tremors, diaphoresis, impaired attention/consciousness, and visual and auditory hallucinations.This usually occurs 24 to 72 hours after alcohol cessation. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of withdrawal and occurs in 5 to 20% of patients experiencing detoxification and 1/3 of patients experiencing withdrawal seizures. Progression Typically the severity of the symptoms experienced will depend on the amount and duration of prior alcohol consumption, as well as the number and severity of previous withdrawals. Even the most severe of these symptoms can occur in as little as 2 hours after cessation; therefore, the overall unpredictability necessitates either pre-planned hospitalization, treatment coordinated with a doctor, or at the very least rapid access to medical care, and a supporting system of friends or family should be introduced prior to addressing detoxification. In many cases, however, symptoms follow a reasonably predictable time frame as exampled below: Six to 12 hours after the ingestion of the last drink, withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, headache, sweating, anxiety, nausea or vomiting occur. Other comparable symptoms may also exist in this period. Twelve to 24 hours after cessation, the condition may progress to such major symptoms as confusion, hallucinations (with awareness of reality), tremor, agitation, and similar ailments. At 24 to 48 hours following the last ethanol ingestion, the possibility of seizures should be anticipated. Meanwhile, none of the earlier withdrawal symptoms will have abated. Seizures carry the risk of death for the alcoholic. Although, most often, the patient's condition begins to improve past the 48-hour mark, it can sometimes continue to increase in severity to delirium tremens, characterized by hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality, severe confusion, more seizures, high blood pressure and fever which can persist anywhere from 4 to 12 days.