You do not even necessarily have to be an alcoholic to experience alcohol withdrawal. This can be a very scary experience especially for someone who doesn’t realize they are consuming too much to drink or for someone is not ready or willing to admit they have a problem. Similarly, you don’t have to be in treatment for alcoholism to experience withdrawal.
Detoxing From Alcohol
Detox from alcohol can begin within hours of discontinuing a drinking session. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen for heavier drinkers who drink very regularly; when they suddenly stop drinking, the onset of symptoms start to form.
What Happens During Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be a potentially life-threatening event if not handle or treated properly. A person who has been drinking a significant amount and or is drinking on a regular basis creates a chemical addiction inside their body to the substances they are putting into it.
When they all of a sudden stop giving the body the substances it has grown to be dependent on, it sends the body, brain neurotransmitters and blood levels into shock.
Technically speaking, the brain’s neurotransmitters are being heavily suppressed when alcohol consumption is happening. Once alcohol is reduced or stopped inside the body and mind, what was being contained in the glutamate system rapidly rebounds naturally causing an adverse effect on the brain and body.
Alcohol Detox Symptoms Include:
- Extreme Fatigue
- Mood swings
- Rapid heart rate
- Dangerous dehydration
- Alcoholic tremors
- Delirium Tremens (aka DTs)
You will notice the symptoms of withdrawal are essentially the opposite of the effects alcohol has on a person while being consumed.
How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?
Anyone experiencing the discomfort of detoxing from alcohol will ask the question “how long does alcohol withdrawal last?” The duration of alcohol detox is different for everyone.
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Alcohol withdrawal usually occurs within 8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.” The acute withdrawal stage will be the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.
Factors That May Influence The Alcohol Detox Timeline
There is no one size fits all answer to address exactly how long detox will last. Several factors can play a role in the number of days detoxification will continue.
- Amount of alcohol consumed
- How long the person has been drinking
- How often the person has been drinking on a regular basis
- Nutritional considerations
- Weight and age
- Was the alcohol combined with other substances
- Does the person have any other co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, eating disorders, etc.
The Importance of Professional Help
If you or a loved one are experiencing alcohol detox symptoms, it’s important to reach out and get medical attention. If Delirium Tremens (DTs) is present in an alcohol withdrawal episode, death can become a very likely outcome and should not be taken lightly.
The safest way to address alcohol abuse, as well as detox, is to check into a drug rehab center and let them professionally help you. Please be advised that most alcohol treatment centers will require an appointment, which means that if you plan to stop drinking or go through detox, you may want to taper your drinking gradually until you can get into a facility.
Keep in mind that alcohol detox is not the same as a fully comprehensive rehab program, and if you are facing withdrawal symptoms, you should address the root of the problem by getting professional help or undergoing inpatient treatment.
Sobriety from alcohol can be a hard path to begin on, but by having the resources and education in place, you can find your way, and you can recover.