How Long Does Alcohol Detox Last?

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Last?

Alcohol withdrawal and detox can begin just hours after you stop drinking. However, the symptoms you experience and how long alcohol detox lasts may be different than your peers due to unique, individual factors.

If you have been a heavy drinker for several years, have been mixing alcohol with other drugs, or have underlying health conditions, you may be at high-risk for seizures and other complications during detox. Also, your symptoms may last a lot longer than someone who has just started developing an alcohol problem.

Let’s take a look at what you can expect during alcohol withdrawal and how long you can expect alcohol detox to last.

Alcohol Detox

How Alcohol Withdrawal Develops

If you drink alcohol in excess on a regular or daily basis, and you suddenly stop drinking, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. This is because alcohol is an addictive substance that is habit-forming, both mentally and physically, when abused.

Once the brain is dependent on alcohol, the entire body system depends on alcohol to function “normally.” Without alcohol, certain neurotransmitters don’t fire in the brain, leading to adverse side effects – better known as withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms occur when the nervous system is overactive as it tries to reach a state of balance. Unfortunately, when it comes to alcohol, detox can be life-threatening.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you go to an alcohol detox in Illinois or you decide to detox at home, you can expect to experience some level of discomfort. The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:[1]

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate

Between 3% and 5% of people who detox from alcohol will experience delirium tremens (DTs), a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical care.[2] Symptoms of DTs include:

  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Even people who don’t experience DTs may need inpatient hospitalization that involves therapy and medication to reduce the risk of seizures and other complications. As a result, if you or someone you know is ready to quit drinking, you should start by locating an alcohol detox near you.

Factors That Affect How Long Alcohol Detox Lasts

There are many different variables that influence how long alcohol withdrawal takes. Some of these include:

  • How much you drink – people who drink more heavily will experience more intense symptoms that last longer.
  • How long you have been abusing alcohol – someone who has been abusing alcohol for several years may have longer-lasting symptoms than someone who just started drinking six months ago.
  • Whether or not you have experienced alcohol withdrawal before – people who have previously experienced severe withdrawal symptoms or complications may be more likely to have a detox period that lasts longer.
  • Your liver health, kidney health, and metabolism – alcohol is metabolized in the liver and kidneys, so if you have poor liver or kidney function or a slowed metabolism, alcohol detox may take longer.
  • Underlying health conditions – underlying mental or physical health conditions can make your withdrawal symptoms more severe and longer-lasting.
  • Mixing alcohol with other drugs – polydrug use can increase the amount of time it takes to detox and the severity of your symptoms.

Due to all of these factors, it’s difficult to say exactly long alcohol detox will take you. Instead, you can look at these different factors and the average alcohol withdrawal timeline to try and estimate how long alcohol detox lasts.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

While the alcohol withdrawal timeline will vary tremendously from one person to the next, it can typically be broken down into the following three stages:

  • Stage One – This is the first 6-12 hours without alcohol when you may experience minor symptoms like anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, nausea, and insomnia. These symptoms will progress and become more severe as time goes on.
  • Stage Two – This refers to 12-48 hours after your last drink when you may begin experiencing severe symptoms, such as seizures, hallucinations, or fever.
  • Stage Three – This is the last 48-72 hours when symptoms may be the most intense. You may experience sweating, fever, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and possibly delirium tremens.

After 72 hours, most people are done with acute withdrawal and will begin feeling better. And, after 5-7 days, most symptoms should be gone completely. However, if you have a severe alcohol use disorder or have been drinking longer than average, your withdrawal symptoms may last longer than the regular person.

Alcohol Detox Duration

For the average person, alcohol detox lasts anywhere from 3-14 days. Most will spend the first few days of detox settling in and struggling with the worst of their symptoms. Then, after 5-7 days, symptoms should begin improving.

If you still require medical care and supervision after 5-7 days, you may remain in detox for further monitoring until all of your symptoms have subsided and you are deemed medically stable.

It’s important to note that some heavy drinkers will experience lingering symptoms – like insomnia, anxiety, depression, and cravings – for several weeks or even months after stopping drinking.[3] These prolonged symptoms are best managed at an alcohol treatment center in Illinois.

Start Alcohol Detox in Champaign, Illinois Today

Here at Navis Health, our team of dedicated addiction professionals is eagerly waiting to help you begin your recovery journey. To learn more about our alcohol detox program or to see if you are a good candidate for our residential program, give us a call today.

References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482134/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4085800/

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