Studies show that experiencing withdrawal from alcohol and their body going through detox are the most common reasons people are afraid to stop drinking. This fear keeps some people from even trying. However, detoxing is the first step in overcoming alcoholism and becoming healthier.

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the first stage of clearing the body of alcohol. It’s defined as the natural process that occurs in the body as it attempts to rid the system of waste and toxins from long-term or excessive alcohol use. During the detox process, you could experience many withdrawal symptoms, including but not limited to headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

man gripping a glass of liquor with his head down experiencing alcohol withdrawal

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

To treat alcoholism, one must first go through a withdrawal phase. Your body thoroughly flushes alcohol out during this period. Following the completion of detox, withdrawal symptoms usually go away within 1-2 weeks.

Over the course of months and years of drinking, your body develops a dependence on alcohol, which is a depressant. After some time, the chemicals your brain produces create a feeling of happiness, and well-being starts to slow in production. This leads to dependency. Withdrawal is when these chemicals are no longer being introduced to your bloodstream, and your body starts to try and function “normally”. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms during the alcohol detox phase can be moderate to potentially fatal. In addition, the withdrawal symptoms you encounter are frequently influenced by the duration and severity of your alcohol use disorder (AUD)

The length of alcohol detox can vary greatly. For instance, people who have suffered from years of binge drinking are more prone to experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Some of those severe symptoms could be seizures or delirium tremens.

Minor Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Tremors\seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Tremendous delirium (in rare cases)

 

The most severe withdrawal symptom from alcohol is delirium tremens, although rare. After your final drink, it can begin anywhere between two and five days later and can be fatal. However, delirium tremens happens in fewer than 5% of cases when someone stops drinking.

To prevent a worsening of your condition, your treatment specialist will monitor your blood pressure and heart rate. Along with discussing your symptoms and any discomfort you may be feeling. Then, your medical team can decide if medication-assisted detoxification is right for you.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

As soon as two hours after your last drink, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal might start to show themselves. Some moderate symptoms might linger for many weeks to a year. However, the more severe ones usually go away within the first week. The most unpleasant detox withdrawal symptoms often peak 10–30 hours after the final drink and start to subside 40–50 hours afterward.

A medically supervised withdrawal lessens any uncomfortable side effects, keeps track of the patient’s health, and helps avoid major consequences. Unfortunately, there isn’t a guaranteed timeframe for when or what withdrawal symptoms you may encounter. Still, there is a rough outline of what to anticipate.

First 6 to 12 hours

Although the withdrawal effects from alcohol are moderate at first, they can soon get worse. Early signs of withdrawal include irritability, headaches, anxiety, tremors, diarrhea, and nausea.

Day 1

There’s a chance that your symptoms will get worse as the first 24 hours of detox come to a conclusion. Additional symptoms might include disorientation, hand tremors, and seizures, in addition to those seen in the first 12 hours.

Day 2

The worst withdrawal symptoms will last until the second day. As your body detoxifies from alcohol, hallucinations and panic attacks can happen during this period.

Days 3 – 7

Various withdrawal symptoms may come and go over the rest of your first week of detox. A life-threatening condition like delirium tremens is also most likely to develop during this period. It is rare, but monitoring by professionals will ensure you are safe.

Day 7 onwards

Many withdrawal symptoms will lessen by the end of your first week of detox. Aside from a few mild symptoms that may last for a few weeks, most symptoms are manageable with medicine.

Factors that May Influence the Detox Timeline

There are a few factors that could influence the detoxification timeline. Most of those are related to health before alcohol abuse started, the severity of the alcohol use disorder, and the current health of the person suffering. The longer withdrawal processes are sometimes called PAWS. 

Even after the most severe withdrawal symptoms have subsided, some people may still have post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is the lingering side effects of detox. Generally speaking, these symptoms might last from a few months to a year, including anxiety, poor energy, difficulties sleeping, and delayed reflexes.

What Can Someone Expect After Stopping Drinking?

Besides the initial detoxing and withdrawal symptoms listed above, someone could expect to feel like they’re not in control of themselves, or even that they don’t know who they are anymore without drinking. These are temporary feelings that typically dissipate with time and a treatment program. Once detox and withdrawal are completed, you could expect to start making decisions about how you want to go about becoming sober. 

At Absolute Awakenings, we offer many treatment programs to fit the lifestyle of each person. We can help you tailor a plan to meet your individual needs. Most treatment programs include therapies, groups, and tools to help you stay sober once treatment ends. 

The Importance of Professional Help with Detoxing

Detoxing from heavy, prolonged alcohol use is dangerous and should never be attempted unless in a medical setting. 

Sometimes, to lessen unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, various drugs may be used to treat alcohol detox at an inpatient rehab center. In addition, to reduce the danger of major problems, medications can be given to assist in maintaining a person’s chemical equilibrium.

A major step toward recovery and healthy life is asking for alcohol abuse assistance. Obstacles are meant to be overcome. We truly believe in our patients’ power to improve and find fulfillment in their lives again.

Contact us at Agape Detox Center today if you or someone you love is ready for something to change.

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