Alcohol detox is the first stage of treatment for alcohol addiction and occurs before you receive any behavioral therapy or counseling. The length of time it takes to detox from alcohol differs from person to person, as a wide range of factors can affect this variable.
Continue reading to learn more about what to expect during alcohol detox, and to get a better idea of how long it may take you or your loved one to go through withdrawal.
What Is the Average Alcohol Detox Timeline?
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that alcohol detox usually lasts between two and 10 days. According to a 2016 study published in Drugs, the mild-to-moderate form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome lasts between two and seven days, while severe withdrawal may require a longer hospital stay. The National Library of Medicine reports that alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually begin within eight hours of the last drink, and can last for several weeks.
Many times, it can be difficult to predict exactly how long you may spend detoxing. When you first arrive at our treatment facility, we perform a thorough medical assessment and evaluation to determine the severity of your withdrawal symptoms, and whether you have any co-occurring medical or psychiatric conditions that can complicate detox. We also find out whether you have been combining alcohol with other substances so we can develop the safest possible treatment plan.
We may be able to give you a more accurate prediction regarding the timeline and length of alcohol detox based on the results from your assessment. In any case, regardless of how long detox takes, our medical staff members will collaborate with one another to ensure you experience a safe, comfortable, and low-risk withdrawal and detox.
What Are Factors That Affect the Alcohol Detox Timeline?
The length of your alcohol detox may be shorter or longer than that experienced by other patients based on a variety of factors that influence the timeline. For instance, those who have been drinking heavily for many years may have more severe symptoms than those who have been drinking for only a few months and require long-term intensive treatment.
Other factors that can affect the length of alcohol detox include:
— The amount of alcohol usually consumed on one occasion
— The frequency at which a person drinks (such as daily or only on weekends in the form of binge drinking)
— Nutrition status
— Polydrug use (combining alcohol with other drugs and substances)
— Mental health disorders
— Immune system health
— Overall health status
We take factors such as these into consideration when performing your medical assessment so we can develop the best possible treatment plan.
What Are the Earliest Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal?
The earliest symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually begin within six to eight hours after your last drink. Symptoms peak and are usually most severe between 36 and 72 hours.
The Industrial Psychiatry Journal reports that the general timeline for alcohol withdrawal is as follows.
6 to 8 hours
— Rapid heart rate
— Gastrointestinal upset (e.g., nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea)
— Seizures in people with severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome
12 to 24 hours
— Hallucinations in those with severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome
24 to 72 hours
— Irritability and mood swings
— Inability to think clearly
— Dilated pupils
After 72 hours, symptoms often dissipate gradually for the next several days.
People with severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome are at heightened risk for experiencing delirium tremens. This severe form of alcohol withdrawal can last between three and four days. Symptoms usually set in between the first and fourth day of withdrawal.
Symptoms of delirium tremens include:
— Sudden confusion
— Sudden changes in mood
— Whole-body tremors
— Deep sleep that lasts for at least one day
— Extreme sleepiness
— Changes in mental function
— Excitement or fear
— Bursts of energy
— Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
Are There Any Symptoms That Can Last Beyond Detox?
There are some instances where psychological withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and agitation linger for a while after the acute detox period has ended. Insomnia may also occur. Withdrawal symptoms that last after the acute detox phase has ended are known collectively as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
We usually refer our patients with PAWS to alcohol rehab centers that offer behavioral therapy — particularly dual-diagnosis therapy. Dual diagnosis therapy helps patients learn how to cope and manage symptoms of PAWS while continuing to recover from alcohol addiction. If you experience PAWS after finishing alcohol detox, we can help you find a rehab center that offers dual diagnosis therapy and other beneficial behavioral therapies.
Is It Possible To Shorten the Length Of Alcohol Detox?
We understand you may be anxious to get through alcohol detox as quickly as possible. However, sometimes the only thing you can do is rest, relax, and wait for your symptoms to gradually go away.
Certain healthy behaviors may contribute to a shorter detox period, and we will do everything we can to ensure you experience the fastest possible recovery without compromising your overall health.
First, we encourage you to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, which can occur due to vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating. We’ll also provide you with highly nutritious meals to help boost your immune system and potentially speed up your recovery. Some patients find that meditation, yoga, and gentle exercise also helps, though we don’t recommend forcing yourself to do these activities if you’re feeling weak, sick, and tired.
Our alcohol detox treatment takes place in a warm, home-like environment that promotes relaxation. In any case, understand that alcohol detox affects everyone differently and that it’s completely okay for you to sleep and rest as much as possible during withdrawal.
Alcohol Detox With Summer House Detox Center
At Summer House Detox Center, we will help you experience a safe, comfortable alcohol detox and do what it takes to make you feel motivated about your recovery. Visit our treatment center at 13550 Memorial Highway in Miami, FL 33161, or call us today at 800-719-1090 to learn more about our available detox services.