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What Does Alcohol Detox Feel Like?

alcohol detox

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 15 million people aged 12 and older had alcohol use disorder (AUD). Quitting drinking and getting help for AUD can be challenging and should never be attempted alone. It is also completely understandable you can wonder what does alcohol detox feel like when you want to stop drinking.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

AUD is a disease where an individual is not able to regulate their drinking. Alcohol often becomes central to their daily routines and activities. As AUD worsens, the individual may find they cannot function without drinking. Some of the common signs of AUD include the following:

  • Inability to regulate or stop drinking once someone begins.
  • A noticeable change in personal hygiene habits.
  • Looking for every opportunity to drink.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family that question one’s drinking.
  • Drinking to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as hangovers and nausea.
  • Putting drinking above other commitments and responsibilities.
  • Attempting to hide one’s drinking from others.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors like unprotected sex with multiple partners and driving.

What Is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the process where alcohol leaves the body. As it does, one will experience withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild and moderate to severe. One of the most common withdrawal symptoms everyone experiences after drinking excessively is a hangover.

The longer a person goes without alcohol, the more intense and severe the withdrawal symptoms become. Unfortunately, many people suffering from AUD are not able to go through detox on their own because they cannot manage the intensity of their withdrawal symptoms. So instead, they start drinking to get them to go away.

What Does Alcohol Detox Feel Like?

To better understand what does alcohol detox feels like, it is essential to mention the withdrawal symptoms, and their intensity will vary from person to person. In addition, the withdrawal symptoms are influenced by how long they have been drinking, how much they drink, and how frequently they drink. Keeping this in mind, a person will go through three stages of alcohol detox and withdrawal as follows:

Mild Symptoms

The first stage will consist of mild withdrawal symptoms that begin within about 8 to 12 hours after the last drink. Many people liken this stage to that of a hangover, where one will have a headache, experience nausea and vomiting, have problems sleeping, and may feel dizzy.

Moderate Symptoms

The second stage usually begins within 24 hours to 3 days of the last drink. The mild symptoms will intensify and can also include:

  • Uncontrolled Shaking
  • Fever
  • Hot and Cold Spells
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
  • Uncontrolled Sweating
  • Seizures and Tremors
  • Confusion
  • Problems Concentrating and Focusing

Severe Symptoms

Within two to four days after stopping drinking, the most intense and severe symptoms set in as one reaches the third stage of withdrawal. During this stage, if the individual was experiencing seizures and tremors, they have a higher risk of experiencing delirium tremens (DTs).

DTs can be life-threatening, so it is crucial that a person undergoes detox at a medical detox center. While DTs only occur in about 5 percent of people undergoing detox, they can die due to the severity of the seizures, confusion, and hallucinations they experience. As such, medical supervision is vital to ensure DTs are appropriately managed. Additionally, supervised detox makes the risk of dying from DTs very rare.

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?

It depends on the person and the extent of their AUD. In general, most people will gradually progress through all three stages of alcohol withdrawal in about a week. However, for others, it could take up to two weeks.

Once the peak symptoms are experienced, usually within 7 to 10 days, they will start to decline and eventually subside entirely. However, detox only addresses the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with AUD.

Many people still experience the psychological withdrawal symptoms of AUD, such as intense cravings for alcohol, anxiety, and depression. These symptoms are also manageable and treatable with ongoing AUD treatment.

Can Anything Be Done to Lessen the Severity of Alcohol Detox Symptoms?

There are several effective detox methods available through medical detox centers that can help lessen the severity of alcohol detox symptoms. For example, various medications can be prescribed that treat withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risks of seizures and DTs.

In addition, for those with severe AUD, gradual supervised weaning from alcohol over a period of several weeks can help lessen withdrawal symptoms. These are just a few options where someone might be able to lessen and reduce the serenity of their alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Start Alcohol Detox at Our Medical Detox Center in Pompano Beach, FL

When you are ready to get help with your AUD and start alcohol detox, you can do so safely at DCF and Joint Commission-accredited Retreat of Broward in Pompano Beach, FL. We are committed to providing customized medically supervised detox treatment tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today.

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