alcohol abuse facts
Alcohol detox is the first step toward overcoming a drinking problem. Detoxification is the natural process the body goes through to process and remove substances from the body. Although a natural process, alcohol detox can be dangerous and even life-threatening. This is because chronic alcohol abuse leads to dependency, which results in withdrawal symptoms when people quit drinking.
People who have been drinking large amounts for an extended period of time are more likely to experience negative side effects and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. However, anyone who is addicted to alcohol and struggles to stop drinking on their own can benefit from a medical detox. In fact, experts never recommend that people try to detox from alcohol at home.
Medical detox is the process of medical treatment that is combined with counseling and peer support. Throughout detox, patients have access to doctors and addiction specialists who can help them overcome their physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Certified addiction treatment providers across the nation offer detox services in both inpatient and outpatient settings, so you can find the one that will meet your needs.
Whether you’re looking for help for yourself or a loved one, here is everything you need to know about alcohol withdrawal and the detox process.
alcohol withdrawal timeline
The exact duration of alcohol withdrawal varies from person to person. The alcohol withdrawal timeline is based on several factors, including the duration and quantity of one’s drinking, the presence of additional physical or mental health issues, and the person’s past experiences with detox. However, a general withdrawal timeline for alcohol is as follows:
- Between 6-12 hours after a person’s last drink, they will begin experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms like headache, anxiety, upset stomach, and insomnia
- After 24 hours, people with severe alcohol dependency may begin experiencing more serious symptoms, like visual or auditory hallucinations
- Between 24-72 hours, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will peak. Individuals may be at the highest risk for seizures around 48 hours after the last drink. Similarly, less than 5% of individuals will experience delirium tremens (DTS) between 48-72 hours after they stop drinking
- After 72 hours withdrawal symptoms should begin to subside and level off
- After 1-2 weeks, all physical withdrawal symptoms should be gone, however, some symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances will linger for several months.
Even though alcohol withdrawal is a fairly quick process, it is dangerous to detox from alcohol at home. Particularly in the case of chronic alcoholics, quitting alcohol cold turkey can be fatal. Some rare side effects that come at the risk of detoxing alone include:
- Heart arrhythmias
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Kidney or liver dysfunction
- Alcohol cravings
In order to prevent these difficult and potentially life-threatening side effects, it is always recommended that people who are addicted to alcohol seek medical attention for their detoxification needs.