Alcohol Withdrawal & Detox: Understanding the Timeline, Symptoms and Treatment

Alcohol Addiction Detox

Some people who suffer from alcoholism may not realize the full extent of their problem until they try to stop or significantly reduce their drinking. It can be a huge shock to encounter withdrawal symptoms, particularly if alcohol addiction is severe and long withstanding. Therefore, it can be a great relief to know that treatment centers such as The Beachcomber are here to help you or your loved one through the difficult detoxification process, which can often be physically and psychologically challenging.

What is alcohol detox?

Alcohol detoxification or detox is the process of removing all the alcohol from the body. If a person’s alcoholism was severe, it could be necessary to gradually reduce the intake of alcohol until the body is in a stable enough condition to stop alcohol consumption completely.

Related page: Inpatient alcohol rehab

What are withdrawal symptoms from alcohol addiction?

The withdrawal symptoms a person will experience will vary according to the severity of alcohol addiction and other factors in a person’s life. Regular alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Inability to sleep or relax
  • Anxiety, depression or irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating, shaking and uncontrollable tremors
  • Intense cravings for alcohol

Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include;

  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Heart and organ failure
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Suicidal thoughts or violent outbursts

What’s the alcohol detoxification timeline you can expect?

With the caveat that individual patients and the severity of their addiction can change the detox timeline for alcohol, detox usually occurs in these three stages:

  • Stage 1 – Initial withdrawal
    • Starts around 8 hours after your last drink
    • Symptoms can begin and start with varying levels and types of mild to moderate discomfort
    • The severity of the symptoms begin to increase leading to the next stage of withdrawal
  • Stage  2 – Peak withdrawal
    • Starts after about 24 hours after your last drink and lasts between 48 – 72 hours
    • This stage sees the most intense and uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptoms
    • Physical withdrawal symptoms can be the most severe during this stage
  • Stage 3 – Long-term withdrawal
    • Starts after the first few days of alcohol detox and can last a week or so
    • While symptoms generally begin to taper at this stage, symptoms can get worse in certain cases or new symptoms can develop
    • This stage can last even longer if alcohol detox symptoms are left completely untreated

Please note: it is exceedingly dangerous to try alcohol detoxification at home or without the supervision of a medical professional. If you or someone you love is considering an alcohol detox program in Florida, please reach out to us here at The Beachcomber or an addiction center near you before attempting to rid the body of alcohol and its ill effects.