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How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol Abuse

You might wonder how long you can expect to go through detox from alcohol abuse before entering treatment. By knowing what to expect during medical detox, you can understand the treatment process better and prepare for withdrawal symptoms. While detox can be challenging, you can successfully recover from alcohol abuse by committing yourself to the process and getting professional support at a rehab facility.

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Detox from alcohol abuse can take about a week or longer, depending upon the severity of your alcohol dependence. During detox, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, ranging from uncomfortable to dangerous or even deadly at their worst. Due to the seriousness of withdrawal symptoms, medical detox at a rehab facility is recommended to help you or a loved one detox safely.

According to MedlinePlus, “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur 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 severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms generally depend on how much you drink, how long you have been drinking alcohol regularly if you use other substances in addition to alcohol, and your overall state of health. 

What Can I Expect at Each Stage of Alcohol Detox?

Determining a timeline for alcohol detox can be tricky due to individual factors that make your treatment experience different from others. Your withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe depending upon your addiction and health. In general, you can expect to experience some similarities with your peers during alcohol detox.

Stage 1: 

About 8-12 hours after your last drink, you should start to feel the effects of withdrawal. You might have cravings for alcohol and begin feeling uneasy. If you drink regularly, your body becomes accustomed to the routine of drinking. For example, if you start drinking right after your workday at 5 pm, you might begin to feel the urge to drink around that time during detox.

Withdrawal symptoms might be mild at this point and can include:

  • Irritability 
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble focusing

Heavy drinkers or those who drink from upon waking until they fall asleep each day might have more severe symptoms during the first stage, including shakiness and tremors.

Stage 2:

During the first 24 to 72 hours after your last drink, your symptoms of withdrawal will peak. During this stage of detox, you will experience the worst of your symptoms. While the first stage might have felt uncomfortable, the second stage can feel painful or unbearable. If you detox alone at home, you are at a higher risk of drinking again to avoid these symptoms.

Peak withdrawal symptoms can feel similar to the flu and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling chills

During this time, you might also have difficulty sleeping and a loss of appetite. Alcohol can negatively affect your sleeping cycles when you grow dependent upon drinking to fall asleep. Although you might rely on alcohol to sleep, your sleep quality will improve once you fully detox from alcohol. 

Additionally, alcoholic beverages contain sugars and calories that your body gets used to having, similar to a regular meal. Due to the caloric content of alcoholic drinks, your digestive system might need to re-adjust. Without the added sugars of alcohol, you might feel like you are coming down from a “sugar rush.”

Stage 3:

After the first three days of detox, your withdrawal symptoms should begin to feel less intense and uncomfortable. Overall, you can expect to have some lingering nervousness and feel on edge for the remainder of your first week of detox. You might continue to have mood swings for a few days during this stage.

If you are a heavy drinker or have been drinking regularly for years, you might continue to have withdrawal symptoms after the first week. You might need to take a few more days in medical detox before moving on to the next stage of your alcohol abuse treatment due to severe symptoms. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms are also known as “delirium tremens” and can include extreme confusion, tremors, and hallucinations.

Detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment

If you have severe withdrawal symptoms or continue to struggle after detox, your treatment team might recommend medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help you manage withdrawal and cravings as you begin rehab.

During MAT, you will be prescribed medications, which can ease your withdrawal symptoms and help you focus during the initial part of your ongoing treatment for alcohol addiction. Some medications used during MAT for alcohol abuse include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. These medications can take the edge off to help you stabilize from severe withdrawal symptoms during and after alcohol detox.

Alcohol Abuse Detox in Nashville

Detox from alcohol abuse can be challenging, uncomfortable, and even painful. However, once you get through the first week of detox, you are well on your way to recovering from alcohol use disorder. Medical detox at a professional rehab facility can help you manage symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol abuse. Brentwood Springs of Nashville, TN, is here for your recovery from detox and inpatient rehab to aftercare services and ongoing support. Call us today at (615) 560-7545.

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