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How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?

Alcoholism afflicts more than 14.5 million Americans, meaning they’ve developed a chemical dependency on alcohol. The first step in beating an alcohol addiction is detoxing from the substance, which means allowing all traces of alcohol to leave the body’s system.

When an alcoholic stops drinking, it can send the body and brain into shock. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually last a few days to a week, and some of these symptoms can be serious and even life-threatening. That’s why detoxing with a trained medical professional remains the safest way to stop using alcohol. Our Florida rehab and alcohol detox center is here to help.

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Symptoms of Alcohol Detox

Different people will experience alcohol detox in different ways depending on a variety of factors, including the length of time they’ve been drinking and how much they drank. Symptoms of alcohol detox will usually begin a few hours after the patient’s last drink. Some of the most common symptoms include:

    • Irritability
    • Anxiety and depression
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • A rapid heart rate
    • Sweating, hot flashes, or clammy skin
    • Mood swings
    • Difficulty focusing
    • Decreased appetite
    • Tremors and shaking
    • Headaches
    • Seizures
    • Delirium tremens

Heavier drinkers are more likely to experience worse symptoms, and in severe cases can experience delirium tremens, which is characterized by general confusion, shaking, and hallucinations. If left untreated, delirium tremens can result in cardiac arrest.

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Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours after the individual has had their last drink, although not everyone will experience the same symptoms or experience them for the same amount of time. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will usually peak around 1 to 3 days into the detox, though some may continue for a few weeks.

Here is a general alcohol detox timeline:

  • About 8 hours after the last drink. This is the initial stage of withdrawal and typically begins between 6 and 12 hours after the individual’s last drink. Mild symptoms like nausea, anxiety, headaches, stomach trouble, and low appetite typically occur now.
  • 1 to 3 days after the last drink. During this stage, symptoms peak and may include fever, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and sweating. In severe cases, symptoms like hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens can arise.
  • 5 to 7 days after the last drink. At this point, most symptoms will begin to improve and lessen in intensity, and will generally have disappeared by the end of this stage.
  • 1 week after the last drink and on. By now, any physical symptoms will most likely have subsided, but some psychological symptoms may remain.

The alcohol detox timeline will vary from person to person, and for severe alcoholism, symptoms are more likely to be intense and last longer.

The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

The dangers of alcohol withdrawal shouldn’t be ignored. That’s because in some cases the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be severe, making it dangerous to attempt a full alcohol detox alone or at home.

The most intense symptoms of alcohol withdrawal — including confusion, fever, and hallucinations — can make it difficult to seek help once the condition has worsened. It’s far safer to undergo the detox process under the supervision of medical professionals, who can monitor and manage your symptoms.

Severe alcoholics and older patients are also at an increased risk of experiencing delirium tremens, or alcohol withdrawal delirium. Characterized by hallucinations, tremors, and altered levels of consciousness, delirium tremens is a serious condition that can lead to fatal cardiac arrest in up to 15% of cases. If a patient under medical supervision experiences delirium tremens, they’re far more likely to survive.

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Beachway’s Florida Alcohol Detox Center Can Help

Although the alcohol detox timeline may only run a few days in some cases, the process can be highly dangerous. It needs to be undertaken in an alcohol detox center, where medical professionals can ease the symptoms of withdrawal and monitor the patient’s health.

From there, recovering from alcoholism is a journey, one that requires support every step of the way. At Beachway’s Florida alcohol detox center, our alcohol rehabilitation programs are designed to provide each individual with the close, personalized care and support they need to detox and heal from their addiction.

At the same time, our programs are designed with long-term recovery in mind. Our dual diagnosis treatment plans take into account the connection between addiction and mental health issues, with the goal of empowering individuals to regain their independence. If you or a loved one is interested in beginning your recovery journey, contact us today at our Florida rehab.