How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol

Have you ever wondered how long does it take to detox from alcohol? 

The amount of time it takes to detox from alcohol abuse is different for everyone due to a number of factors, including the length of alcohol dependency, the severity of alcohol abuse, metabolism, and more. The length of the detox process can vary from a few days to a few weeks. 

In rare instances, mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms might even last for a month, and symptoms can appear and disappear over the course of a few years. Treatment or recovery facilities can help make the detoxification process more bearable in those cases.

If you decide to stop drinking heavily and frequently, you’ll probably go through withdrawal. How much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and whether you’ve previously gone through alcohol withdrawal can all affect how long it takes to detox.

For most people, severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms go away four to five days after alcohol consumption.

What Is an Alcohol Detox?

When alcohol and all of its toxins are removed from your body because you’re not drinking anymore, it is known as alcohol detox. Despite the fact that alcohol is widely used in our society, alcohol withdrawal is one of the most dangerous types of withdrawal. Delirium tremens (DTs), the most severe withdrawal symptom, can be fatal if not treated immediately.

You should never detox from alcohol alone. To guarantee your safety, seek the advice of a medical professional and strengthen your faith by finding other believers who will pray with you and walk with you in this journey. 

Seeking medical advice from a specialist will be helpful if you start to suffer from more intense withdrawal symptoms, while prayer can help you with the mental battle you’re fighting. Some people can detox at home with regular doctor visits if theirs is a mild case, but those who have more severe alcoholism require inpatient medical detox.

Quitting alcohol abruptly is extremely harmful and exacerbates alcohol detox symptoms, so safe detox from alcohol involves slowly tapering off alcohol usage. Your doctor will create a safe medical detox plan to ensure that you withdraw from alcohol gradually. They will continuously monitor your symptoms and make the required adjustments to your recovery plan.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)?

When a person who is physically dependent on alcohol abruptly quits drinking or dramatically lowers their alcohol intake, they can experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

It all starts with alcohol addiction, which can arise if you abuse alcohol or drink large amounts of it. When your body changes how it functions to adjust to the presence of alcohol in your system, you become dependent. Your brain is always seeking balance, so when you use alcohol on a regular basis (or drink a lot of it), your brain will modify the function of some of your neurotransmitters.

When you suddenly stop drinking, your brain keeps trying to function as it did when you were consuming alcohol regularly. As a result, these chemical and neurotransmitter abnormalities lead to withdrawal symptoms. Although withdrawal symptoms can range in severity, they occasionally pose a life-threatening concern.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

Once you become chemically dependent on alcohol (due to drinking regularly or drinking large quantities of it), your brain becomes used to it. If you quit all of a sudden, it can shock your brain, body, and neurotransmitters.

The effects of alcohol on the brain’s neurotransmitters are profoundly suppressed. Furthermore, the neurotransmitters need to adjust when drinking is stopped to regain the sensitivity required for proper operation.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are common for those recovering from alcohol addiction. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and can include: 

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

drug addiction signs

The most severe withdrawal symptom that can happen after quitting alcohol is delirium tremens, sometimes referred to as “alcohol withdrawal delirium.” Thankfully, it is also a very rare withdrawal symptom.

Although delirium tremens is known to occur in fewer than 5% of withdrawals, it has a relatively high mortality rate. Up to 10% of people who suffer from delirium tremens die of the symptoms. DTs cause disorientation and confusion in addition to seizures in those recovering from the effects of alcohol abuse. Older people with a history of alcohol abuse, impaired liver function, or DTs are more likely to experience delirium tremens if they have a history of strong alcohol use, have had DTs in the past, have impaired liver function, and initially experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. 

The severe symptoms associated with DTs are:

Alcohol Withdrawal Treatments

alcohol dependance

Doctors make treatment recommendations based on the Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-Ar). The more severe a person’s withdrawal symptoms are, the higher the number of treatments they may need.

If your withdrawal symptoms are mild to moderate, you might not need medication. In those cases, symptoms can often be managed by going to support groups and counseling.

If you experience moderate to severe symptoms, medicine might form part of your alcohol addiction treatment. The types of medications that may be prescribed in that case are listed below.

Neuroleptic Medications

Neuroleptic medications may be useful in reducing agitation and seizures linked to alcohol withdrawal by helping to lower nervous system activity.

Commonly-prescribed neuroleptic medications include: 


These medications are recommended by doctors to decrease the possibility of seizures when experiencing alcohol withdrawal. For many experts, benzodiazepines are considered the gold standard in treating alcohol dependance. These medicines are often used by medical professionals to treat alcohol withdrawal.

Commonly-prescribed benzodiazepines include:

Nutritional Support

To address nutritional deficiencies and lessen withdrawal symptoms brought on by alcohol use, specialists may prescribe nutrients including thiamine, and magnesium to combat vitamin deficiencies that are common in recovering alcoholics. Folic acid may also be given to combat oxidative damage caused by binge drinking.

Other medicines may be recommended by doctors to address detox symptoms. 

The probability that a person will start drinking again may be decreased with the help of medications, which a doctor can recommend once the first withdrawal symptoms have subsided. These are some examples that are approved by the FDA:

Talk to a doctor about these medications, and ask what other medications they’d prescribe for your recovery. You can decide whether you’d like to add these to your recovery plan (along with counseling and rehab).

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

After a person has had their last drink, the body metabolizes residual alcohol to remove it from the body during the detoxification process. This is the first phase of recovery from an alcohol use disorder and should take place in a secure environment with a well-defined framework. 

The alcohol detox process varies from one person to the next, but read on for a general description of what the alcohol detox timeline looks like.

Six to 12 Hours

Those with substance use disorder generally experience mild withdrawal symptoms six hours after their last drink. Cravings are one of the first signs of detox. 

Other common symptoms during this time frame include:

If a person has a long history of alcohol addiction, they may also experience seizures after six hours. Seizures are acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and they’re extremely dangerous.

12 to 24 Hours

Heavy drinkers (10+ drinks per day) will often start to experience moderate withdrawal symptoms after 12 hours.

According to research, between 0.6-0.7% percent of people who stop drinking alcohol experience hallucinations (Alcoholic hallucinosis). Although they might experience fear after seeing or hearing things that aren’t actually there, doctors do not view this as a major concern, as it is different in nature from DTs.

For those who experience mild symptoms, they’ll normally peak between 18 and 24 hours and subside after four or five days.

24 to 48 Hours

For many recovering alcoholics, withdrawal symptoms continue during this time. Those with a long history of chronic alcohol may experience an increased risk for seizures during this time. The risk for delirium tremens (DTs) also increases during this time, so those with a long history of chronic alcohol use are closely monitored.

48 to 72 Hours

addiction withdrawal

Fifty percent of people who are recovering from alcohol use experience withdrawals. Of those who suffer withdrawals, about 5% will experience delirium tremens (DTs) at or before the 48-hour mark. Watch out for signs of:

Due to the high mortality rate of the DTs, it is typically managed and cared for in an intensive care unit in a hospital with medical supervision, sedative medications, and medical treatment.

Chest pain can also develop as a result of an increase in blood pressure and should be monitored. Most of the time, after 48 hours, the risk of seizures reduces while the risk of stroke and heart attack rises.

72+ Hours

At this time, those with a long history of chronic or heavy alcohol use will start having their worst symptoms. (DTs start as early as 24-48 hours after the last drink, but usually start at the 48 or 72-hour mark.) DTs usually last for 2-3 days, but symptoms can linger for as long as a week.

Immediate medical care is required for DTs. Left untreated, delirium tremens can result in a heart attack, a stroke, or death. 

DTs and alcoholic hallucinosis are rare side effects of withdrawal, but it’s important to be prepared for them – which is why we highly recommend recovery in a safe facility. Compassionate care is important during this time, along with access to medical professionals who can monitor your symptoms. 

Other Factors that Affect the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

As previously discussed, multiple factors affect the alcohol withdrawal timeline. In this section, we’ll cover each of these factors in detail. 

Level of Addiction

alcoholic man

The length of a person’s detox treatment depends on how severe their alcohol addiction is. 

If alcohol abuse was mild to moderate (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men), people will normally start to experience withdrawal symptoms six to eight hours after their last drink, and symptoms will typically continue for five to seven days. 

However, chronic or heavy drinkers typically experience severe effects for two weeks or more.

The frequency and amount of alcohol consumed before the detox process affect how long detoxification takes. People who drink large amounts of alcohol daily will experience a different detox process than those who have one drink every other day. 

The PAWSS scale takes into account a person’s blood alcohol level when they were last intoxicated, whether they have had blackouts or not, if they have mixed alcohol with other dangerous substances, etc. If the person has a history of drug abuse, the addiction treatment process could take longer.

A person’s behavior and physical characteristics, such as weight, age, mental health, biological sex, physical health, genetics, and drug use, can also affect how severe detox symptoms are. People who are older or have poorer physical or mental health typically have more severe symptoms than those who are younger. 

While these elements may contribute to the length of a person’s recovery, the intensity and duration of the detoxification process mostly depend on three factors: the quantity, frequency, and duration of alcohol consumption.

Length of Addiction

Medical professionals suggest medically assisted detox if the individual has a long history of alcohol use. Someone who has been drinking for several years can process and manage withdrawal symptoms differently than someone who has only been drinking for a few months. 

People who began drinking at the age of 17 or younger have a higher risk of developing hallucinations throughout the detoxification process and can endure symptoms for a longer period of time.

A long history of alcohol abuse increases the likelihood that someone going through detox will have DTs. According to research, DTs occur in three to five percent of patients hospitalized with alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). The symptoms often appear two to three days after the start of detox, but depending on how severe the withdrawal is, they may persist for as long as a week.

The length of withdrawal can also vary depending on how someone goes through detox. People typically experience withdrawal symptoms more quickly if they abruptly quit drinking. 

However, there are several situations where quitting alcohol this way can be risky. Depending on the quantities of alcohol drunk and the amount of time since starting drinking, the “cold turkey” method may not be right for you.

Positive Outcomes After Overcoming Alcohol Dependence

man hoping for recovery

When caring experts assist people through the detox process, they are more likely to have a secure and effective recovery. 

People who receive treatment have the emotional and physical assistance they need to properly detox and continue healing. Those in recovery learn to modify their thinking and spiritual habits and control their emotions. They do so with the help of professionals using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and transitional thinking. 

Does Seeking Professional Help Increase Recovery Success?

Your whole life is ahead of you, and if you choose recovery, it can be better than you imagined. It’s crucial to have the support you need to reduce withdrawal symptoms because the detox process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months. 

To maintain health, safety, and a higher possibility of making a full recovery, it is important to seek medical, professional, emotional, and spiritual guidance during this process.

man exercising during addiction recovery

Reach out and get medical attention if you or someone you care about is struggling with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms or trying to self-detox. Death is a serious risk for those who suffer from delirium tremens or other severe withdrawal symptoms.

The safest way to address alcohol misuse and start the detox process is to consult with a medical professional or seek care at a recovery facility. Detox is the first phase in an all-encompassing recovery plan built to increase your independence from alcohol, so you can begin the rest of your life free from addiction. 

If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, seek expert assistance and continue recovery after detox to address the underlying cause of the issue.

Even though the first steps on the road to sobriety can be challenging, Miracle Recovery can help you find your way to a healthy, alcohol-free future through faith-based practices. To find out more about recovery program options to meet your needs, get in touch with us ASAP.

Our team will work with you and your doctors to develop a custom recovery plan. We’ll help you recover from alcoholism so you can get back to living your life by faith, whether you require outpatient therapy or inpatient treatment for close monitoring. 

Contact Miracle Recovery Today!

man smiling

Talk with your doctor if you’re worried you may be suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can examine your general health and history of alcohol misuse to determine how likely you’ll be to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Once you’ve received medical attention, contact Miracle Recovery to experience transitional living, gain life skills, and build your spiritual relationship with God. We believe that addiction is a spiritual issue that can be resolved. There is more to it than being physically and chemically reliant on the substance.

Therapy can’t compare to the peace and freedom from drugs and alcohol that faith can provide. Miracle Recovery will be by your side for the rest of your life because a spiritual journey never ends.

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