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Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Diarrhea?

by Demarco Moore

July 17, 2023
a woman holds her stomach in the bathroom feeling diarrhea caused by quitting alcohol

Yes, quitting alcohol can sometimes cause diarrhea. While physically uncomfortable, this common withdrawal symptom is the body trying to eliminate harmful substances and regain its normal balance after you or someone you care about has been drinking alcohol for a long time.

A Real-Life Example

When a 54-year-old man quit drinking, a case study published in the Journal of International Medical Research noted he had “severe acute diarrhea.” This report shows that when people stop drinking alcohol, their bodies can react harshly, causing withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea.

Consult a mental health or addiction provider to determine the best alcohol treatment pathway. Call 888-448-0302 now to speak to a Landmark Recovery Patient Navigator.

Key points in this blog:

  • Alcohol withdrawal can make you sick and cause diarrhea, among other symptoms.
  • How bad diarrhea is during withdrawal depends on how much and how often you drink alcohol.
  • Professional medical guidance and a good diet can help manage alcohol withdrawal diarrhea. 
  • Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to serious health complications like Deliriums Tremens (DTs) and dehydration, requiring immediate medical attention.

Why Alcohol Withdrawal Causes Diarrhea

Drinking alcohol regularly can disrupt our digestive systems, stop our bodies from taking in important nutrients, and change the healthy balance of bacteria in our guts. When we suddenly stop drinking, our body tries to fix these problems. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including diarrhea.

The abovementioned case further shows how serious diarrhea can become during alcohol withdrawal. The 54-year-old man experienced severe diarrhea even though he was getting special food, vitamins, and protection for his gut during his withdrawal at the hospital. His situation also shows that without medical supervision at a hospital or alcohol rehab center, substance abuse-related problems can be dangerous and even deadly. These issues may include:

  • Not getting enough nutrients
  • Having bad diarrhea
  • Going through alcohol withdrawal

Therefore, it’s really important to monitor bowel movements during alcohol withdrawal, even if you’re in the hospital. Landmark Recovery offers an alcohol detox program to help people struggling with alcohol withdrawal manage their symptoms under 24/7 supervision from trained medical experts.

What Happens to the Body During Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is a set of symptoms that can occur when a person with a history of excessive alcohol use suddenly stops drinking. Diarrhea is just one of these symptoms, which can range from mild, such as anxiety and shakes, to serious, like Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Other common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hallucinations

Understanding these symptoms can better equip you to manage alcohol withdrawal. If you or someone you care about is experiencing these symptoms, consult your doctor or call 888-448-0302 today to speak to a Patient Navigator at Landmark Recovery.

Other Factors Influencing Diarrhea During Alcohol Withdrawal

Several things can make diarrhea more likely when you stop drinking. Here are three key points:

  1. How much and how long you’ve been drinking: If you’ve been binge or social drinking heavily for a long time, it can upset your stomach, which means you might get diarrhea when you quit.
  2. How you stop drinking: If you quit alcohol all at once or go “cold turkey,” it can shock your body and worsen withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea. However, if you go through a supervised alcohol detox program like Landmark Recovery offers, they help you wean off alcohol slowly, making severe symptoms like diarrhea less likely.
  3. What you eat: Eating healthy food can help your body during withdrawal. Probiotic goods like yogurt support gut health, give you the necessary nutrients, and can help control symptoms like diarrhea.

Diarrhea Dangers When You Stop Drinking

When you quit drinking, your body has to adjust, which can cause diarrhea. This isn’t just uncomfortable; it can also be harmful without medical attention. Diarrhea can make you dehydrated, cause imbalances in your body salts (electrolytes), and, if serious, can lead to malnutrition.

That’s why having medical help is important when you’re going through alcohol withdrawal. They can give you the right care, keep an eye on you 24/7, and step in with medications like Vivitrol to manage diarrhea and cravings.

How to Relieve Diarrhea During Alcohol Withdrawal

Managing alcohol withdrawal diarrhea requires a combination of medical guidance and practical at-home strategies.

Medical Detox

Addiction treatment experts recommend medical detox for those struggling to manage their alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These programs can offer medication and treatment strategies to ease withdrawal symptoms, including diarrhea. Outpatient detox programs can also benefit those transitioning to daily life while managing withdrawal symptoms.


From a practical, at-home perspective, staying hydrated is crucial. Alcohol withdrawal diarrhea can lead to fluid loss, making hydration key to preventing dehydration. Additionally, over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication may be useful but should be taken under the advice of a healthcare professional.

Your Diet

Nutrition can play a crucial role in managing diarrhea during alcohol withdrawal. Based on expert advice from Landmark Recovery’s Dietary Manager, Kayla Risteen, eating nutritious foods can help relieve diarrhea and support overall wellness during detox. An easy-to-remember diet to manage diarrhea is the BRAT diet, which includes:

  • B = Bananas
  • R = Rice
  • A = Applesauce
  • T = Toast

These foods are gentle on the stomach and can help firm up stools. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important to prevent dehydration caused by diarrhea. However, remember to opt for water, herbal teas, or broths rather than caffeinated or sugary drinks.

Remember, every individual’s body reacts differently to food during this period. It may be helpful to consult a dietitian to create a personalized diet plan.

Choose Professional Alcohol Treatment at Landmark Recovery

Dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea isn’t easy. That’s why the medical team at Landmark Recovery is here to help. We’re dedicated to making your detox experience as comfortable and safe as possible. We have specific programs to help you overcome alcohol addiction.

This includes:

We’ll create a custom treatment plan that addresses your addiction and any other health issues you might have.

Start Your Recovery Journey Now

Are you or someone you care about dealing with alcohol withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea? You don’t have to face this challenge alone. Call our confidential admissions line at 888-448-0302 anytime, day or night. We’re always here for you.

Don’t forget to visit our locations page for an alcohol detox or rehab center near you. At Landmark Recovery, we treat the whole person, not just your symptoms. We aim to empower you to choose recovery over addiction and return to life on your terms.  

For more information on alcohol addiction and rehab, read these resources:

If you’re ready to start your journey toward recovery, we’re here to help. Reach out today and work together to build a brighter, healthier future.

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About the Author

Demarco Moore

Demarco Moore

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Demarco Moore currently writes blogs about drug addiction treatment and recovery to help save lives at treatment provider Landmark Recovery. Before that, he cut his teeth as a sports writer at the Manchester Times, where his coverage and stories won Tennessee Press Association awards in 2016 and 2017.

He’s always had a knack for storytelling. Moore’s written content for junior golf tournaments and helped to amplify the “People Not Profits” message of credit unions. When he’s not writing, Moore loves to travel, laugh and put his mental health into the hands of the Tennessee Titans during football season.