Alcohol Detox

Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder has been recognized as a medical disease since 1956. Like most illnesses, alcoholism knows no bounds and impacts people of different backgrounds and walks of life.

According to the 2018 NSDUH, there are approximately 14.4 million adults 18 and over who have an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is widespread and can be fatal, impacting 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women.

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Alcohol Addiction Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Withdrawals from alcohol can range from a slight headache to death. Many factors influence the severity of alcohol withdrawal, including body size, amount of alcohol consumed, the period over which alcohol was consumed, hydration level before drinking, and more.

Most people with an alcohol use disorder will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. The body goes through many changes when an individual stops drinking after an extended period of heavy alcohol use and the body and brain become dependent on the patterns and frequency of drinking.

The body is deprived of alcohol’s effects once someone stops alcohol use. Side effects and symptoms will vary, but they can trigger health complications so severe they could be life-threatening. It does not matter if an individual has been drinking for weeks, months, or years. Withdrawal symptoms will still exist.

Alcohol slows down many processes in the body. When a person is regularly drinking, the brain makes chemicals to keep the body awake and functioning as well as possible. When the use of alcohol decreases or stops, it can take a long time for the brain’s chemicals to adjust, resulting in intense and dangerous symptoms, including seizures.

Some signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Shakes
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Hand tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • High fever/excessive sweating
  • Delirium tremens
  • Visual hallucinations

Individuals can expect an improvement within five days from their alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, there are a few people who may continue to experience symptoms after the five-day mark. The length of time an individual consumed alcohol, and the frequency in which they drank are just a couple of factors that play into the severity of the symptoms a person may experience.

What is the timeline for alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms can begin just two hours after an individual’s last drink. However, the peak of symptoms will usually start 24 to 48 hours once a person has stopped drinking. The most uncomfortable and unwanted symptoms will be experienced within this time frame. Changes in blood pressure, tremors, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and fever are most commonly experienced in the first two days.

One of the most severe withdrawal symptoms from alcohol is that an individual may experience is delirium tremens, which can happen within 48 hours of the last drink. The alcohol withdrawal timeline looks something like this:

  • Post-ingestion (6 to 12 hours) – anxiety, headaches, shaking, nausea/vomiting
  • Post-ingestion (12 to 24 hours) – disorientation, hand tremors, seizures
  • Post-ingestion (48 hours) – insomnia, high blood pressure, delirium tremens

Alcohol Detox Process

Many things happen during alcohol detox. While some may detox on an outpatient basis, the safest route is a medically supervised inpatient setting. This allows for careful monitoring of symptoms and the administration of therapeutic interventions.

If you have had any of the following experiences while detoxing from alcohol, it is strongly suggested that you are admitted to inpatient detox for your safety:

  • History of seizures or delirium tremens
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Recent high level of alcohol
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms/complications

There are times when alcohol detox is included in a treatment plan for an individual. The amount of time it takes for an individual to detox from alcohol depends on how long one has been drinking and the amount of alcohol one drinks. Rehab for alcohol use disorder typically includes a safe environment for detox.

Is detox for alcoholism necessary?

If you have become reliant on alcohol to feel “normal,” detox is strongly recommended. While detox it is not an easy process, stopping drinking without medical supervision puts your life at risk. Sometimes medication is needed, and these medications can help to ease symptoms. Stopping use will allow your body to rid itself of any toxins and begin physical healing.

If you have a problem with alcohol and want to stop drinking, you should seek help from medical professionals. In a controlled residential setting, doctors will administer medications that will safely curb alcohol withdrawal symptoms, decrease cravings, and provide comfort.

Are you or a loved one ready to overcome alcohol addiction? We are here to help. Call (844) 978-1524