Alcohol withdrawals are certainly no fun, and at their most severe, they can even represent a health risk. But getting through this first stage in the rehab and recovery process is critical to success down the road. Understanding what to expect when it comes to alcohol withdrawal duration and how to best deal with these symptoms helps set you up to make it through this time to the next stage in the recovery process.
How long does alcohol withdrawal last? Find out more below, and then contact Changing Tides to start the process of breaking free from addiction and seeking healing and sobriety today.
What Is Alcohol Detox?
Detox is often the first step in the alcohol rehab and recovery process. For many people, detoxing from alcohol is not the same thing as going through a full rehab program and seeking a successful path to long-term sobriety and recovery. That’s because detox treats the physical symptoms, but you may need to delve into emotional and psychological factors to create a foundation that lets you remain sober in the future. That’s why there are other steps and options following detox, including continued inpatient or residential rehab, outpatient programs and long-term follow-up solutions such as AA groups and individual therapy.
In some cases, detox simply refers to the time period it takes for the substance to fully clear your system and withdrawal symptoms to stop. In other cases, individuals require or desire assistance with this part of the recovery process because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Doctors, nurses and other providers within a rehab environment can provide medication and other interventions to help reduce the toll withdrawal symptoms take and make the treatment process safer and more comfortable.
Can I Expect a Certain Time-frame for Recovery?
The length of time it takes to detox from alcohol depends on a variety of factors and is unique to each individual. Factors that can impact the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and how long it takes to detox from alcohol include:
- How long you have been abusing alcohol or battling the cycle of addiction; rehab treatment can take longer if you’ve been dealing with this issue for some time.
- How much alcohol you ingest; typically, the more you drink on a regular basis, especially leading up to detox, the longer it takes your body to divest itself of the substance.
- Your age, gender and other demographics; even genetics can play a role in how your body deals with alcohol and what detox is like.
- Your overall health; if your body is not functioning at a prime level, it can be more difficult for it to withdrawal from any substance.
How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
Typically, withdrawal symptoms last from one day to a week. Again, the exact timeline varies for every person, but here is what you might expect when it comes to alcohol withdrawal duration.
- Within 6 to 10 hours after you stop drinking, you may start to feel withdrawal symptoms. You may begin to suffer from tremors or shaking, which can be one of the first symptoms.
- During the first one to three days, symptoms build. You may begin to feel nausea or anxiety, lose your appetite or get headaches.
- Symptoms typically peak by the middle of the first week and you begin to feel like you’ve crested the mountain.
- After the first wave of symptoms begins to fall off, you may experience a second wave or stage of symptoms that can include hallucinations. In severe cases, cardiac issues, including a heart attack, can be a concern during this time.
- During the first week, you may also develop what is called delirium tremens, which causes paranoia, fear and other issues. During this stage of withdrawals, the person may be unable to determine any difference between reality and fantasy.
- By the end of the first week, physical symptoms of withdrawal tend to taper off, especially with treatment.
Ongoing Psychological and Emotional Symptoms
While physical detox, especially with the help of medication and clinical interventions, can be accomplished in a few days to a week in many cases, that doesn’t mean treatment should be over. Often, alcohol addiction isn’t simply a physical dependency you can kick like a bad habit and be done with. Psychological and emotional symptoms can persist for weeks, months or even years, often driving someone back to drinking if they don’t work with professionals to delve into these issues, discover the root cause of alcohol abuse and develop healthier coping mechanisms to support sobriety.
If you’re ready to stop drinking, take detox seriously and continue with rehab to support a more positive life in the future, call Changing Tides today at 252-715-3905 to get started.