If you or a family member recognizes that the harmful effects of alcohol addiction have become too much to handle, you are probably searching for answers. Abstaining from alcohol use altogether is what many people decide is the best course for them, but it can be a challenging road. When a person stops drinking alcohol, it is often necessary to receive professional detox treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and quitting cold turkey is potentially dangerous. Many patients looking for the right alcohol detox center want to know what to expect during withdrawal and learn more about the typical alcohol withdrawal timeline.
Do You Need Help for Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you’ve suffered enough from the ravages of alcohol addiction, the decision to quit drinking is likely the most beneficial choice you can make for your well-being. If you want to stop drinking and need help for alcohol withdrawal, alcohol detox is necessary. Also, keep in mind that attempting to detox alone is a dangerous process. Many people experience an array of uncomfortable physiological side effects due to the body quickly trying to acclimate itself to sobriety. These side effects range from mild to quite severe and include:
- Psychological and mood disturbances
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach disturbances
- Rapid heartbeat
- Fever and sweating
- Paranoia and delusions
Without the proper tools, experience, and medical supervision, you could end up setting yourself up for failure. Often, it is imperative to detox from alcohol in a clinical setting or in an addiction treatment program. Anyone suffering from alcoholism is likely to benefit from treatment at an alcohol detox center, but some require it. These factors can put a person at a greater risk for a medical emergency during treatment, making clinical supervision during detox a necessity. These factors include:
- Numerous past failed attempts at recovery
- Low potassium levels or low sodium levels
- Compromised immunity
- Advanced age at the time of withdrawal
- Increased length of alcohol use
- Using other drugs in addition to alcohol
- Mental health conditions
- Abnormal liver function
- History of seizures
Typical Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
During professional treatment for alcohol addiction, you will likely undergo a detox, resulting in the experience of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The time it takes to detox is based on a few factors, including how much you drink and how long you’ve been drinking. The presentation and individual experience of symptoms vary significantly from individual to individual. Still, most people will stop having obvious physical withdrawal symptoms four to five days after drinking alcohol for the last time. There are general guidelines on what you can expect to experience during your alcohol withdrawal. It is a shocking experience for the body due to abruptly taking away this substance from your brain receptors.
A general alcohol withdrawal timeline is:
- At 6 hours – Minor symptoms typically occur around 6 hours after your last drink. They’re usually mild, but this can largely depend on the individual. For example, someone who drank heavily for a very long time could have a seizure at this point in their detox.
- From 12 to 24 hours – Going without alcohol can be emotionally taxing, and at this point, a small percentage of people experience hallucinations. Even though they see something that isn’t there, hallucinations under supervised care are not considered dangerous or a severe withdrawal issue.
- From 24 to 48 hours – Minor symptoms persist. These could include but are not limited to headaches, tremors, and digestive issues. If the alcohol addiction wasn’t severe, symptoms could peak around this time.
- From 48 hours to 72 hours – Some people experience the severe form of alcohol withdrawal symptom called delirium tremens (commonly referred to as DT’s). Rapid heartbeat, seizures, and fever are hallmarks of this dreaded withdrawal symptom.
- At 72 hours – If you are detoxing from a severe case of alcoholism, this is usually the point where the worst symptoms reach their peak, and you’ll crave alcohol the most. At this stage of alcohol detox, you’ll need the most concentrated medical care. Occasionally, symptoms can present for as long as a month, although they generally lessen over time.
Many people choose an alcohol detox treatment center due to the possibility of painful symptoms and medical emergencies during withdrawal. But, it’s important to note, alcoholism doesn’t end after withdrawal. People often need help to navigate the early stages of sobriety. A quality alcohol detox treatment center will offer a combination of comfort and expert medical care. Medication access, therapy, support groups, and mental and physical health monitoring are essential aspects of alcohol detox treatment. These beneficial aspects make attending a professional alcohol detox treatment center the safest, most reliable choice for your alcohol recovery journey.