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Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol Detox

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If you or someone close to you has been struggling with an alcohol use disorder and has had difficulty quitting without assistance, seeking professional help is a good idea. At The Retreat of Broward, we offer professional medical detoxification services to those who are at risk of alcohol withdrawal. Our experienced and dedicated staff help our clients move through the alcohol detox timeline safely while preparing them to take the next appropriate step on their recovery journeys. 

How Many People Have an Alcohol Addiction?

A study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports “29.5 million people ages 12 and older (10.6% in this age group) had AUD in the past year. This includes 16.6 million males ages 12 and older (12.1% in this age group) and 13.0 million females ages 12 and older (9.1% in this age group).”

Alcoholism is one of the most serious public health threats the country currently faces. Fortunately, for those struggling with alcohol use disorders, there are many treatment options available. Making a full recovery is always possible, regardless of how severe the alcohol use disorder has become. 

man with an alcohol use disorder

Alcohol Dependence

When a person consumes alcohol regularly for a prolonged period, their brain chemistry begins to change, and their body adapts to the presence of the chemical substance. Furthermore, because alcohol is a depressant, the brain responds to its presence by producing neurotransmitters like dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The brain’s reward center is stimulated, and over time, drinking becomes a compulsion. 

Additionally, a physical tolerance will build over time. This means that the person will need to consume a greater amount of alcohol in order for its desired effects to be produced. Once a physical tolerance develops, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms once they stop using alcohol. People who drink heavily or daily are at a greater risk of experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, everyone who engages in problem drinking should enter a medical detox program before attempting to quit. 

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

When a person who has been consuming alcohol regularly stops drinking alcohol entirely, they will experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms. Collectively, these symptoms are known as alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. Physical symptoms often include uncontrollable shaking, gastrointestinal issues, profuse sweating, and headache. Psychological symptoms can include increased irritability and agitation, anxiety, panic attacks, and depressed mood.

Symptoms of withdrawal throughout the alcohol detox timeline vary. However, most people undergo alcohol withdrawal for between 1 and 2 weeks before symptoms completely subside. Because alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening when untreated, symptoms should always be closely monitored in a medical detoxification setting. At The Retreat of Broward, we offer a medically monitored alcohol detox in Florida. Our treatment program begins with a short stay in our inpatient detox center and progresses to the next appropriate level of clinical care. Contact us today to learn more. 

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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 

There are both physical and psychological symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. The severity of the symptoms depends on several factors, including:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed daily
  • The duration of alcohol use
  • Whether or not alcohol was being combined with other chemical substances
  • The presence of underlying mental health concerns or health conditions
  • The age, gender, and weight of the person undergoing withdrawal

The severity and timeline of alcohol detox and withdrawal symptoms vary on a person-to-person basis. Because these symptoms can be severe and potentially life-threatening, detoxing in an at-home setting is never a good idea. To learn more about our Broward County detox center, contact us today. 

Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal 

Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Severe stomach cramping 
  • Profuse sweating/night sweats 
  • Body tremors 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Increased blood pressure 
  • Seizures 

Psychological Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Increased agitation and irritability 
  • Severe anxiety 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Depressed mood 
  • Suicidal ideation 
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related issues 
  • Paranoia 
  • Hallucinations 

While rare, people with severe alcohol use disorders might develop delirium tremens, also known as “the DTs.” This condition can be life-threatening and should be immediately treated in a designated medical facility. Symptoms associated with the DTs include spiked heart rate, hallucinations, severe paranoia, and seizures. Fortunately, this occurs in less than 1% of people undergoing alcohol withdrawal. 

woman feels restless during early stage of alcohol detox timeline

How Long Do You Detox From Alcohol?

How long does alcohol detox last? There is no exact timeline for alcohol detox, as the symptoms vary based on the person and the circumstances surrounding their alcohol use. For many, alcohol withdrawal is a dreaded process. Consequently, many people continue to drink simply to avoid withdrawal symptoms. 

However, there are steps people can take to prepare. In fact, by checking into a medical detox center, the most severe symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal can be treated. This provides clients with a safe and comfortable withdrawal and speeds up the duration of symptoms. If a person chooses to detox in a designated facility, alcohol withdrawal will typically last for between 7 and 14 days. 

Alcohol withdrawal can be broken down into three categories: early withdrawal (the onset of symptoms), acute withdrawal (the most severe symptoms develop), and late-stage withdrawal (the symptoms have predominantly subsided). The duration of each stage depends on the treatment options available to those undergoing withdrawal. Entering a medical detox program dramatically reduces the length of time it takes a person to detox from alcohol. 

Alcohol Detox Timeline

How long does detox take for alcohol? The answer depends on several factors, including the amount of alcohol consumed daily and the duration of alcohol use. 

Stage 1: Early Withdrawal

Duration: Early signs and symptoms of withdrawal begin developing within the first 8 hours after the final drink. 

Symptoms: Early alcohol withdrawal symptoms include general feelings of physical discomfort, irritability, agitation, mild anxiety, restlessness, and uncontrollable shaking. 

Stage 2: Acute Withdrawal 

Duration: Acute withdrawal begins within the first 24 to 48 hours after the final drink and lasts up to one full week. 

Symptoms: Acute withdrawal symptoms include body tremors, night sweats, severe anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and potential hallucinations and seizures. Those with a risk of DTs usually experience symptoms within this same time period. Symptoms can continue for up to a week. DTs can also cause disorientation, fever, confusion, and intense hallucinations.

Stage 3: Late-Stage Withdrawal 

Duration: Post-acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms can last for several months and sometimes require treatment. 

Symptoms: The symptoms of late-stage alcohol withdrawal include symptoms of anxiety and depression, insomnia, and alcohol cravings. 

What is Alcohol Detox Like?

For many people who have been struggling with alcohol dependence, medical detoxification is the first step on the road to recovery. In detox, a client undergoes alcohol withdrawal under the close supervision of a team of medical professionals. The medical team monitors the client around the clock to ensure no health-related complications develop. Additionally, the clinical team treats the client with a combination of evidence-based therapies as they work toward physical stabilization. 

At The Retreat of Broward, we have developed a program that is safe and comfortable during all stages of the alcohol detox timeline. We utilize a range of comfort medications, therapeutic techniques, and holistic approaches to recovery. Additionally, we prepare each client for the remainder of their recovery journey.

A typical day in alcohol detox can include the following:

  • A daily vitals check to ensure the client is healthy and physically stable
  • The use of medications to alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • The development of a personalized aftercare plan
  • A smooth transition into the next level of care

group therapy during alcohol detox program

Contact Us Today to Begin Your Recovery Journey

If you or someone you love has been struggling with an alcohol use disorder, medical detoxification is an essential first step toward recovery. The symptoms throughout the alcohol detox timeline can be dangerous if they are not carefully monitored. For a person to transition into the next stage of the treatment process, withdrawal symptoms must be treated as soon as they develop.

At Retreat of Broward, we can help you or your loved one begin the recovery journey. Contact us today to learn more.

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