How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?
Alcohol is one of the most common substances used and abused in society. While statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that only 43 percent of men have engaged in binge drinking, NIAAA has demonstrated just how devastating alcoholism is to a person’s life when you consider the duration of abuse. In fact, about 70 percent of alcohol abuse incidents last as long as four years.
Health problems occur as a result of this type of alcohol dependency. The best decision you can make for yourself is to choose to end your battle with alcoholism. However, it is important that you understand that the struggle doesn’t end with this decision, because the detox process begins soon after you have consumed that last drop of alcohol.
*Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Detox
Everyone will have a different experience with alcohol detox. However, most alcoholics in recovery will experience a combination of the following symptoms:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Increased blood pressure
- Dizziness and/or confusion
- Body aches
What to Expect From Alcohol Detox
Like addiction, detox is highly individual. The severity of a person’s detox withdrawal symptoms is closely related to the severity of their addiction. While your experience with detox and the duration that it lasts is not likely to be identical to anyone else’s, it is possible to get a general time frame for the detox process, complete with the progression of symptoms.
- The First Hours of Alcohol Detox. Cravings are some of the first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and a sure sign that the body is beginning the detox process. Cravings can occur within hours of taking a final drink and continue far into the detox process. The first hours of detox can also involve symptoms like physical sickness, excessive changes in mood and blood pressure, and the shakes. Physical tremors are quite common for all levels of alcohol addiction, and may be the extent of the detox process for some. For more extensive addictions, symptoms can persist and get progressively worse for hours and days of the detox process.
- The First Two Days of Alcohol Detox. After the initial hours of detox come more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The symptoms that develop within the first two days of detox can even become life-threatening, as the brain reacts to alcohol leaving the system. Hallucinations are possible during this stage of detox. Seizures are possible as well, and can continue for days after the process begins. For many, the detox process does not end at 48 hours. Extreme addictions will require close monitoring for days after the decision to detox is made.
- The Rest of the Alcohol Detox Process. Detox can continue for many days after initial symptoms develop. Cravings will grow, pain will increase, and the previously mentioned hallucinations and seizure events may continue and also increase in severity. After the first 48 hours of detox, medical observation may be required, as the risk of extreme confusion, heart attack, and even stroke increases. These events are known as DTs, and can last as many as five days during detox. Often, doctors will choose to sedate patients during this stage of detox to help lessen the risk of irreparable harm done by DTs.
This sounds like scary information, but it’s important to know the detox process inside and out especially when you have a severe dependency. Many of the detox symptoms above lessen after five days of detox, though some may persist for a week or longer. Also, most of the withdrawal symptoms can be lessened via the use of medications in detox facilities.
With the health risks that can occur as a result of the detox process, it is important that you consider undergoing withdrawal from alcohol while under the supervision of a medical professional. Your best bet is to undergo a comprehensive rehab program where you will also receive psychological counseling, and support from other recovering alcoholics. But, whatever your choice, make sure that you put your health first through the process.