Alcohol withdrawal can lead to potentially life-threatening symptoms, especially if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time. If you drink heavily every day, stopping might lead to withdrawal. Even cutting back might cause withdrawal symptoms.
.It’s vital that a full detox be done in the care of a medical team at a treatment center. But how long will it take your body to detox from alcohol? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people might have only mild symptoms for a few hours to days, while others might have ongoing serious problems.
If you’ve been drinking for long periods of time, your withdrawal symptoms are more likely to last longer. The majority of individuals cease to have withdrawal symptoms around five days into the process.
How a Typical Withdrawal Timeline is Formed
A variety of factors influence the exact timeline for each person. However, there are general guidelines for what people can expect during the withdrawal process. Around the six-hour mark, mild withdrawal symptoms may begin to set in. If you drink alcohol heavily, six hours could be long enough for you to have a withdrawal-related seizure.
The next key period is between 12 and 24 hours following the last drink. The initial symptoms tend to intensify throughout this time period. It is possible that you will hallucinate visually or audibly, although this only happens to a small portion of people. Hallucinations might be frightening to you, and they may alarm those around you.
However, they aren’t a sign of serious damage. Doctors don’t consider them dangerous complications. The hallucinations tend to subside once the withdrawal ends. Around 24 to 48 hours following the last drink, you’ll continue to have withdrawal symptoms. It might feel like having a bad flu, with sensations like tremors, nausea, and a headache. For those who are coping with mild withdrawal, the peak tends to be around 24 hours into the experience.
After this, the symptoms will continue for a few days and then begin to wane at the four or five day mark. For those who are dealing with more serious withdrawal symptoms, the 48 to 72 hour mark is when things get potentially dangerous. Severe alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, more commonly known as DTs. This is a life-threatening emergency.
People with DTs might have a high fever, seizures, and a fast heart rate. The 72 hour mark is when withdrawal symptoms are their worst in serious drinkers. There have been rare cases in which people continued experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms for several weeks.
Factors Influencing the Timeline
Research indicates that about half of all people with an alcohol use problem experience physical withdrawal symptoms. About three to five percent of individuals experience severe symptoms. Your doctor will take different conditions into account when determining how severe your detox symptoms might be. You will have a higher chance of developing DTs if you have liver issues, low electrolytes, a history of withdrawal seizures, a low platelet count, or old age.
If you use additional drugs, this increases the chances of DTs as well. Because DTs are life-threatening, it’s vital that anyone with potentially severe symptoms withdraws at a treatment center. Some people might be able to do a rapid detox program, which involves being sedated through the process. However, this option isn’t available to those with certain health issues.
Treating Withdrawal Symptoms
Medical professionals can treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms throughout the detox process. They use a symptom scale to determine how severe a person’s symptoms are. This allows them to create a plan and make recommendations for treatment. Not everyone will need to have medication-assisted withdrawal. It is also possible to attend therapy and support groups during the detox process.
Medication is used to manage more serious withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most common ones are:
- Benzodiazepines, which reduce the risk of withdrawal-related seizures
- Neuroleptic medicines, which prevent agitation and seizures by depressing the nervous system
- Nutritional supplements, which might include electrolytes and other nutrients to keep a person from suffering nutritional deficiencies
Doctors can also treat side effects of withdrawal, such as high blood pressure. They might use beta blockers to open the circulatory system. After the detox is over, you might also be prescribed medications to help you avoid drinking again. These help to reduce cravings. Our counselors are available 24/7. To speak to someone about your concerns, call 772-266-5320 today.