How Long Does It Take an Alcoholic to Detox if They’ve Been Drinking for Years?

Alcoholism is a leading problem in many homes, following tobacco addiction. It is associated with domestic violence and, eventually, divorce and separation of families. Drinking with moderation is generally safe for your health, but heavy drinking has an impact on both your health and social life. Some of the signs that you are addicted to alcohol include easily feeling irate when you are sober, dismissing your responsibilities in order for you drink, overindulging in alcohol when you feel stressed or need to relax, having short episodes of memory loss, and blackouts. These signs are dependent on how much you drink and not necessarily by your age. Therefore, the signs can occur in anyone of drinking age. You can, however, seek a detox process if you are ready to give up on alcohol abuse.

Timeline of alcohol detox.

The detox period will depend on your drinking period, amount of alcohol intake, and abuse of other substances. For most people using alcohol for a long time, a maximum of 6 weeks is required for the detox to be complete, without use of medications to relieve withdrawal symptoms. With the use of drugs, the detox period can take two weeks or even less. Withdrawal symptoms will, however, be less severe as more alcohol leaves your body. You will go through three stages in the detox process. Withdrawal symptoms progress with each stage, and you will eventually need to resort to prescription drugs to lessen the severity of the symptoms.

  • Stage one.
  • Stage two.
  • Stage 3.

Stage one is associated with mild symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, and irritability. You will start to notice the symptoms six to seven hours after your last drink. Seizures can occur in some people who have been drinking heavily for a long time, but they are not common during stage one. Withdrawal symptoms during stage two are moderate and can be managed without drugs. The symptoms are associated with the excessive firing of neurons as alcohol levels in your body drop. Common symptoms are palpitations due to increased blood pressure, mild to moderate fevers, and confusion. They occur within 12 to 24 hours after symptoms of stage one manifest. In some cases, you may experience a complication such as hallucinations that will require your doctor to put you on some neuroleptic drugs. Stage three is the most challenging stage you will undergo.

The withdrawal symptoms will worsen, and most physicians usually recommend placing the patient on medications to relieve the symptoms. You will easily get agitated, experience hallucinations and seizures, and your body temperatures will be extremely high. You will notice the symptoms within two to three days after your last drink. You will continue to experience symptoms of stage three for the next few days, usually five to seven days. After which, symptoms will lessen in intensity as the alcohol levels in your body continue to drop. Medications are usually prescribed to shorten the detox symptoms. However, without medication, the symptoms will continue for six weeks, but you will notice a significant improvement in the third and fourth weeks. For people with a long term drinking problem, symptoms of anxiety and insomnia last up to months or years. As a result, these people have a hard time maintaining their sobriety after completing their detox. You can, however, maintain your sobriety by joining the right programs and seeing a therapist.

Treatment of withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms you will experience are due to the reduced levels of alcohol in your body. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system; when its levels decrease, your neurons become overactive and misfire. Misfiring of neurons is what causes you to experience insomnia, irritability, palpitations, seizures, and hallucinations. Neuroleptic drugs are prescribed to deal with the overactivity of your brain. These drugs act by depressing your central nervous system, therefore, relieving the hallucinations, seizures, and irritability. Some physicians can also prescribe some benzodiazepines like Valium to help you deal with the anxiety and seizures. Since long term alcohol abuse is associated with nutritional deficiencies, you will also be given nutritional supplements such as thiamine and folic acid. If you want to make changes to your lifestyle by alcohol detox and you are ready to start the process, we can help. Contact us today at 302-842-2390. We offer detox programs to alcohol addicts living in the eastern United States.

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