How To Alcohol Detox: Timeline, Treatment & Safety

What Is Alcohol Abuse?

Alcoholism affects millions of Americans each year. Some people use alcohol responsibly while others become dependent on it. If you think you might be addicted to alcohol, talk to your doctor about treatment options.

When to Detox From Alcohol

Anyone who is drinking enough to experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome really needs to consult a doctor rather than trying to self diagnose over the internet. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be more than just uncomfortable, they can be deadly.. but more on that later.

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, the first step is talk to someone you can trust. You don’t have to tell anyone else what you’ve been doing. If you think you might have a problem, seek help immediately. Your doctor or therapist can help determine whether you need treatment.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when people stop drinking alcohol abruptly. This abrupt change can cause a number of physical changes including increased heart rate, sweating, tremors, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, seizures, coma, and even death. While most people experience milder symptoms, some people develop severe reactions such as those listed above. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately.

Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms can potentially dealt with through an at home detox. If you know you’re going to have any kind of symptom, it’s best to consult with a professional before risking it. Mild alcohol syndrome symptoms can include :

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Tingling in hands and feet

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms require immediate medical attention. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

As you can imagine, waiting until you experience these symptoms to consult a doctor is a bad idea.

Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol addiction treatment typically involves detoxification, where patients are weaned off of alcohol through prescriptions with similar effects over several days or weeks. During this process, patients often experience some uncomfortable symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and insomnia.


What happens during the actual withdrawal period?

The following timeline shows how long it takes for the body to get rid of alcohol after stopping drinking. The time frame varies from person to person, so if you’re having trouble sleeping, feel nauseous, or are anxious, you may want to contact your doctor sooner.

The 12–24 Hours of Alcohol Detox

After you quit drinking, your body will start to break down alcohol within 24 hours. It starts by breaking down the acetaldehyde, which causes hangovers. Then, the liver breaks down the rest of the alcohol into water and carbon dioxide.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay In My Body?

Once you stop drinking, the amount of alcohol in your system will begin to decrease. However, it doesn’t completely disappear. Some of the alcohol remains in your bloodstream, organs, fat cells, and other tissues. For example, one study found that a week after quitting, the average man still had 0.3 percent of his total blood volume containing ethanol (alcohol). That means there was still 1/300th of a teaspoon of alcohol in every milliliter of blood.

24-72 Hours of Alcohol Detox

The next couple of days are the often the most difficult for most people, since the body now has to adjust to operating without alcohol again. Some people choose to go to an inpatient detox in either a hospital or residential setting so that a doctor can monitor their vitals and administer medication to ease discomfort.

72 Hours – 1 Week of Alcohol Detox

Many people report their physical condition to be greatly improved after the first few days, although physical withdrawal symptoms will often reoccur at unexpected moments. It’s no surprise that many alcoholics fall short during this time, as psychological cravings will still be at an all time high.

How long does it take before Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Symptoms Stop?

Week 2-4 of giving up alcohol

Most people who successfully complete an alcoholic detox program will notice significant improvements in their health after about a couple weeks. They should also feel much more relaxed and less stressed than they did while drinking.

The first few weeks after an alcohol detox are pivotal in order to achieve long term sobriety. Varying levels of care are available depending on the severity of the problem. Long term sobriety is dependent on having your head together as well as your body. That means getting to the root issue of what was driving you to drink in the first place.

What factors affect the length of the withdrawal process?

There are many different factors that influence the length of the withdrawal period. These include the amount of alcohol consumed, the type of alcohol used, and whether or not the patient is taking medications.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you might need medical attention. If you have any questions about alcohol detox, please call our office today!

What factors affect the severity of the withdrawal process?

The severity of the withdrawal process depends on how long you have been using, your tolerance to drugs and alcohol, and whether or not you are in a treatment program. The longer you use, the more likely it is that you will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. If you are in a treatment center, your chances of experiencing severe withdrawal are less than if you are using alone.

Some people are especially likely to relapse, either because they are unable to withstand the withdrawal symptoms. Medical protocols and prescriptions have been designed to help these people, to great success.

Medically Assisted Alcohol Detox Programs

A medically assisted alcohol detox program involves the administration of sedatives and anti-anxiety medications to help with the transition from alcohol to sober living. This allows patients to get through the initial stages of withdrawal without suffering too much pain.

In some cases, doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines such as Valium or Xanax to help with the anxiety associated with withdrawal. Other medications can be prescribed to help reduce the risk of seizures.

When should I seek professional help for my alcohol addiction?

It’s important to know when to seek professional help. If you think you may be addicted to alcohol, then you should speak to someone immediately. You don’t want to wait until things become unmanageable.

Alcohol Detox Process

Alcohol detox is usually done through medications or other treatments. A formal program includes stabilization for aftercare. There are different levels of addiction treatment, including outpatient, partial…

The most important thing you need to know about alcohol detox is that it is not a cure. You must continue to work hard to overcome the effects of alcoholism. If you do not, you could find yourself relapsing into drinking again. This video explains what happens during a typical alcohol detoxification process.

This article provides information on how to deal with symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, shivering, seizures, hallucinations, muscle cramps, tremors, and fever.

A person suffering from alcohol dependence will often experience physical symptoms of withdrawal when attempting to stop drinking. These include anxiety, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shivering and seizures.


Drugs Used for Detoxification

Medications are given to treat medical conditions associated with alcoholism. These include painkillers, antiemetics, sedatives, antidepressants, antianxiety agents, muscle relaxants, antipsychotics, stimulants and others. They are often prescribed by physicians and administered by nurses during the withdrawal period.

Some people choose to take prescription drugs while undergoing alcohol detox. This includes medications such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) and others.

There are many different medications that you can use to help ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Your doctor can recommend one or more of these drugs based on your specific needs.

1. Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are the most commonly prescribed medication for treating anxiety disorders. They include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (ProSom), flurazepam (Dalmane), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam (Versed), oxazepam (Serax), temazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion), and zopiclone (Imovane).

They are used to treat insomnia, muscle tension, panic attacks, agitation, and alcohol withdrawal. However, benzodiazepine use is associated with increased risk of falls and fractures, cognitive impairment, motor vehicle accidents, and death. These drugs are addictive and carry risks such as confusion, dizziness, memory loss, impaired judgment, sleepwalking, and even suicide.

2. Anticonvulsant drugs

Anticonvulsants are used to prevent seizures. These drugs include valproate, lamotrigine, carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenytoin, and others. Some anticonvulsants are prescribed off label for anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and major depressive disorder. Anticonvulsants are usually effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. However, some people experience side effects while taking anticonvulsants.

Side effects vary depending on the medication. For example, valproic acid may cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, skin rash, weight gain, and liver problems. Lamictal may cause dizziness, headache, fatigue, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and memory impairment. Topiramate may cause weight loss, diarrhea, tiredness, stomach pain, and headaches. Phenobarbital may cause sleepiness, sedation, depression, confusion, muscle weakness, and low blood pressure. Zonisamide may cause dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, and nervous system problems.

The most common side effect of anticonvulsant therapy is sedation. Sedation occurs when a person feels sleepy or falls asleep during daily activities. This does not mean that the person is drunk or under the influence of alcohol. Instead, it indicates that the person is experiencing a decrease in alertness. People who take anticonvulsants may feel less energetic, less active, and less interested in doing things.

3. Barbiturates

Barbiturates are sedative drugs used primarily to treat anxiety and insomnia. They work by increasing GABA activity in the brain, thereby reducing excitatory neurotransmitter release. Although some studies suggest that barbiturates may reduce seizures, there is no good evidence that they do. In fact, barbiturate use is associated with increased risk of death due to respiratory depression.

4. Baclofen

Baclofen is an agonistic agent of GABAA-receptors. In contrast to benzodiazepines, baclofen does not act directly on the gamma-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptor chloride channel protein, but rather increases the affinity of the endogenous neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyricacid (GABA). This increase in affinity leads to enhanced inhibition of postsynaptic neurons.

In addition to its anxiolytic properties, baclofen decreases craving for alcohol and improves sleep quality.

The drug is used to treat muscle spasms, especially those associated with multiple sclerosis. Its use in humans dates back to the 1960s.

You’re Not Alone

Regency Recovery knows what it’s like to suffer from alcoholism and addiction. We’re a group of industry professionals and recovering alcoholics that are passionate about helping people escape the chains of addiction. The call is totally confidential, so reach out today and we’ll assist any way we can.

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