The Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol abuse is a significant problem in the UK. For people who suffer from alcohol dependency or addiction, the more they drink, the more dependent their brain becomes on alcohol to function. When people who are addicted to alcohol try to stop drinking, they can experience withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to severe. In critical cases of alcohol addiction, detox may be life-threatening. The alcohol detox timeline in which a person experiences withdrawals will be different depending on the nature of a person’s addiction.

What Is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the process of alcohol eliminating itself from a person’s system. It is the first step of alcohol addiction recovery. Alcohol detox is associated with various withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Mild to severe anxiety
  • Insomnia

In more serious cases of alcohol addiction, a person will experience what is known as delirium tremens (DTs). This occurs in approximately 1 in 20 people who have severe withdrawal symptoms. On the alcohol detox timeline, DTs typically occur 2-3 days after a person’s last drink. In such instances, detox can prove fatal if a person does not seek medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • Noticeable shaking or trembling
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

This is a particular dangerous aspect of the alcohol detox timeline because a person’s breathing and circulation can make a dangerous change. Blood pressure can increase, while the blood flow to a person’s brain decreases. In such cases, there is a risk of slipping into a coma if medical attention isn’t sought.

image showing a man relaxing after understanding the Alcohol Detox Timeline
Why choose

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Last?

Alcohol detox is different for everyone. While there is no specific alcohol detox timeline that is the same every time, withdrawal typically occurs in three separate stages that usually begin 8-12 hours after a person has had their last drink. The length a person experiences each stage is dependent upon the nature of their individual addiction. Alcohol detox can last from 24 hours up until a week or longer depending upon the severity of a person’s addiction.

The 3 Stages of the Alcohol Detox

Stage 1: The first stage is the mildest part of detox. It begins approximately 8 hours after a person had their last drink and can last up to 24 hours. Symptoms can include: anxiety, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, fatigue, insomnia, headache, mild to moderate agitation, depression, mood swings, tremors, and difficulty concentrating.

Stage 2: The second stage of detox starts approximately 24 hours after a person’s last drink and can last 1-3 days. In this time symptoms that can occur include: increased body temperature, increased blood pressure, sweating, confusion, elevated mood swings, and irregular heart rate.

image showing young people understanding the Alcohol Detox Timeline

Stage 3: The third stage of detox is found in cases of severe alcohol addiction and can last for weeks. Symptoms include: hallucinations, extreme confusion and agitation, fever, and seizures.

What Is the Actual Alcohol Detox Timeline?

It’s typically assumed that the time it takes to detox from alcohol is more or less the same for those with an alcohol addiction. While the alcohol detox timeline is different for everyone, following is generally what you can expect when withdrawing from alcohol.

8-10 Hours After Last Drink

The first stage of withdrawal starts around 8 hours after a person has their last drink. If a person is a heavy drinker and has been for some time, they might start to get the shakes at this point. Other symptoms of withdrawal in this stage can include disturbances in sleep, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, rapid heartbeat, irritability, and anxiety.

12-72 Hours After Last Drink

After 24-72 hours, stage one symptoms usually hit their peak and stage 2 and 3 symptoms begin. For severe alcoholics, the intensity of withdrawal will continue to get worse after the first stage of withdrawal. Auditory hallucinations can last a couple of days, and typically occur in approximately 20 percent of alcoholics. The chances of experiencing these hallucinations will increase the longer a person has been drinking or if there is any other drug use involved.

In the most extreme cases of alcohol addiction, seizures can occur that make detox life-threatening. The risk of seizures typically peaks around 24 hours after a person has had their last drink. It is extremely important to seek a medical detox if you believe you are at risk for a difficult withdrawal.

5-7 Days After Last Drink

After almost a week, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will begin to taper off. The extreme withdrawal feelings a person experienced the first few days will start to decrease in intensity. After the first week, physical withdrawal symptoms typically cease.

What to Expect During Alcohol Detox?

The first step of detox is to monitor and control a person’s symptoms until they are stable. Heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and respiration will all be closely monitored at a professional detox centre to make sure a person is safe during the detox process. Anyone who has tried to overcome an addiction to alcohol knows how difficult withdrawal can be. A professional alcohol detox doesn’t only ensure a person’s safety, but can help with severity of withdrawal symptoms.

What Influences the Way a Person Experiences Alcohol Detox?

The alcohol detox timeline is different for everyone. The symptoms and length a person experiences them are dependent upon a variety of different factors. How long a person has been drinking, how much they drink, and how often they are accustomed to drinking will all influence the timeline of their detox.

The more dependent a person is on alcohol, the more severe of a detox they will experience. The alcohol detox timeline can also be longer amongst those who have more severe instances of addiction. Medical history, co-occurring mental health problems, a history of alcoholism or addiction, and any other drugs used in conjunction with alcohol will all affect the way a person experiences detox.

Why a Professional Detox Is Preferable to Home Detox?

Having an idea of what to expect from the alcohol detox timeline can give you a better idea of why it is important to seek professional help when detoxing from alcohol. If you or someone you love has suffered from alcoholism for some time, getting a professional detox is highly recommended.

Most patients that seek professional help will experience a peak of symptoms within 5 days, with symptoms improving dramatically after this time. The alcoholic detox timeline is different for everyone however, and some patients may experience withdrawal for a week or longer.

When a person detoxes from alcohol under proper medical supervision, the risks of withdrawal are considerably reduced. For extreme cases of alcohol addiction, a medically-assisted detox will be performed. In such cases, benzodiazepines such as Valium, Ativan, or Librium are offered to lessen the severity of the symptoms a person experiences.

Why choose

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

Let Us Help You Find Alcohol Detox Options in the UK

Detox from alcohol is the first step of a lifetime of freedom from your addiction. While the alcohol detox timeline might seem intimidating from where you are at now, it is relatively short when looking at the big picture. Going through an alcohol detox is difficult, but nothing compares to staying subject to an alcohol addiction for the rest of your life. Please call us today at 0808 278 9885 to discuss different options for alcohol detox. Anyone suffering from an alcohol addiction deserves to get the help that is readily available.

Going through the steps of the alcohol detox timeline are the first you will take toward a lifetime of freedom when you decide to get help for your addiction. We are here to help you find the best detox centres available and discuss anything else regarding you or a loved one’s alcohol addiction.

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