How long does it take an alcoholic to detox?

When you are concerned about the effects alcohol is having on your life or that of a loved one, detox is an option to consider. If you believe yourself or a loved one is struggling with alcohol misuse, professional help increases the chances of success. When questioning how long does it take for an alcoholic to detox? You should be aware every person is different and takes a different time to completely recover from the effects of long-term alcohol misuse. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the length of time a person takes to detox or when the effects of excessive drinking will wear off.

What is Alcohol Misuse?

Alcohol use disorder is a problem affecting estimated millions of people in the U.S. alone. There is no medical diagnosis of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder, but it is known more than 80 percent of Americans over 18 have tried alcohol. There are significant problems associated with the misuse of alcohol, from liver failure to seizures. When you are reliant on alcohol, you will see the following symptoms:

  • You are unable to cut down on alcohol use when you wish to
  • Cravings are felt to use alcohol throughout the day
  • Your daily obligations are secondary to using alcohol
  • Using alcohol in dangerous situations

The medical community has made attempts at determining whether a person is suffering from alcohol use disorder. The results of several studies show women who drink more than three glasses of alcohol each day or seven per week are at a higher risk of developing AUD. For men, the numbers are higher and show drinking more than four glasses per day and 14 per week will open the door to Alcohol Use Disorder.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding the timeline of detoxing from alcohol use means looking closely at how alcohol affects the brain. A person who has been physically dependent on alcohol for a prolonged period of time will suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking or limit their alcohol use. The chemicals in the brain are thought to have been affected and altered by prolonged exposure to alcohol and limit the movement of messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Among the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • High Blood pressure
  • Hallucinations

If you have been misusing alcohol for a prolonged period of time, you will suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include seizures and paranoia.

Alcohol Detox Timeline – Phase 1

When you decide to stop drinking alcohol, you will feel the first effects of withdrawal symptoms within six to eight hours of your last drink. Phase one of the detox process is usually mild and is highlighted by nausea and anxiety in most people who choose to stop alcohol use. If your alcohol use was heavy and you stop using alcohol suddenly, you could face some severe issues. In people who have misused alcohol for several years, the first six to eight hours can result in a seizure.

Alcohol Detox Timeline – Phase Two

The long-term effects of alcohol misuse are at their worst at the 72-hour mark following your last use of alcohol. If you choose to complete your detox alone, you could face withdrawal symptoms lasting for weeks. The second phase of the alcohol detox process lasts between one and three days. During this time, the first day can include hallucinations of sounds or shapes that are not physically present. You may be disturbed by hallucinations, but these can be helped by a medical professional. Alcohol detox will hit its peak during the first and second days, with the main symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach problems
  • Shaking and tremors

When you are withdrawing from alcohol misuse, the mild symptoms of withdrawal have been known to last up to five days.

Alcohol Detox Timeline – Phase Three

The third phase of alcohol withdrawal symptoms lasts up to one week and beyond. You will face some of the most serious problems related to alcohol use disorder during the latter stages of the first week, including rapid heart rate. Your blood pressure will often cause a problem at this point when it rises significantly. When you are ready to discuss your detox from alcohol use disorder, call 833-820-2922.