January 2, 2021

How Long Do Alcohol Detox Symptoms Last?

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How Long Do Alcohol Detox Symptoms Last?

If you are trying to cut back or completely stop drinking alcohol, the most important element of this process is your safety.

Depending on how much alcohol you were consuming, you will go through alcohol detox. Some people do not even notice a change in their body, while others may need to seek medical assistance to safely cut out alcohol.

Recognizing alcohol detox symptoms and learning the safest steps to follow is going to help you cut out alcohol and be safe while you do it!

Interested in learning about the alcohol detox symptoms and how long they last?

Then keep reading!

how to reverse liver damage
How to reverse liver damage

Understanding the Body

Many prolonged drinkers that are trying to quit alcohol try to do this by quitting cold-turkey.

While this does work for some individuals, it can be dangerous depending on the following:

  • If you are a prolonged drinker
  • Your level of consumption

That’s because alcohol withdrawal can have a wide range of symptoms and effects. These symptoms can range from somebody just feeling slightly irritable, to potentially life-threatening symptoms.

But why does this happen? 

Understanding why your body goes through withdrawal will help you to understand the symptoms more deeply and take the safest course of action.

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, which means that it is slowing your body down.

To compensate for this depressant, your brain actually produces chemicals that are stimulants in order to level you out. If someone is a habitual drinker, their body will get used to producing these chemicals.

When someone stops drinking alcohol, their body is in the habit of overproducing stimulating chemicals and will not learn immediately to stop producing these.

This is what causes alcohol detox symptoms and why a person may feel unwell when they stop drinking.

sober curious
Are you sober curious?

Common Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Alcohol detox symptoms have been tracked and there is a common pattern that occurs once somebody has their last drink of alcohol.

Be aware that not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, it largely depends on the person.

Within 5-12 hours: A few hours following your last drink, some minor symptoms may start to appear. These symptoms include the following:

  • Tremors
  • Shakes
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Slight trouble breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Remember, you may not experience all of these symptoms and some symptoms can be very mild.

Within 12-24 hours: After this period of time has elapsed, many people going through alcohol withdrawal may experience alcohol hallucinosis at this stage.

These hallucinations can be auditory or visual. While some people may just experience some hallucinations that are not clearly defined, others may experience very realistic or detailed hallucinations.

Within 6-48 hours: After people have their last drink, they are at risk for alcohol withdrawal seizures. While this can happen within just 6 hours of withdrawal, the peak time for this to occur is around 24 hours.

These seizures can be severe and even be life-threatening. This occurs within 5% of the population.

Within 48-72 hours: At this stage, a symptom called Delirium Tremens can occur. However, this symptom can be delayed up to a week after a person’s last drink.

Delirium Tremens is considered the most severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal. This can cause your body to be unable to regulate things such as your breathing, your temperature, and your blood pressure. It can also lead to dangerous dehydration.

It can also lead to a temporary reduction of blood to your brain. This will lead to symptoms such as confusion, loss of consciousness, irrational beliefs, irritable behavior, and more.

After quitting drinking life gets so good
After quitting drinking life gets so good

Duration of Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Of course, the main question people ask when discussing alcohol detox symptoms is this:

How long will it last? 

The majority of symptoms will start to get better within 5-7 days.

Other symptoms may last longer. These symptoms include:

  • Sleeplessness and insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability

These types of symptoms may last up to a few weeks or even months.

If you are considering cutting out alcohol, know that you should never go through withdrawal alone or unsupervised. Consider going to a treatment center or even to a hospital if you start to experience severe symptoms.

While most alcohol detox symptoms cannot be avoided through supervision or medical assistance, they can be largely minimized. Trained professionals will be able to reduce the risk of any major or long-term damage caused by alcohol detox symptoms.

These facilities can also assist you in finding long term treatment once your detox is complete.

Make sure to let a loved one know that you are planning on detoxing so that they can look out for you as the bare minimum.

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Helpful Resources

Alcohol Use Disorder is more than just a habit, it is a disease that can be treated.

If you are at the beginning of questioning your relationship with alcohol, you may just be starting to wonder if you have a drinking problem. This article can help you find some answers for yourself.

If you are on a journey to cut down your drinking or achieve complete sobriety, there are a plethora of resources that can assist you!

While many people do achieve sobriety through rehab or programs such as AA, there are other options that you can take. These alternatives may be for you if you are unsure you qualify as an “alcoholic,” are unable to take time off work for rehab, are unable to afford rehab or any other reasons you may be hesitant to go to rehab or join AA.

Here are just a few:

Read a Sobriety BlogIf you are just starting to question your relationship with alcohol, reading a sobriety blog regularly may help you uncover some answers.

Sobriety blogs cover everything from signs you are an alcoholic, to recovery, to the benefits of living an alcohol-free life.

These blogs give personal accounts, resources, and scientific explanations surrounding alcohol use disorder and are a great place to start building your alcohol-free-living arsenal.

Read Books About Recovery: One way to truly understand addiction and your personal relationship with alcohol is by reading books about alcohol, addiction, and recovery.

These books will take you on a deep dive to uncover the truth about alcohol and how you can be freed from its chokehold.

Take a Class: Are you interested in talking with a real person about alcohol addiction, but want to steer clear of groups such as AA? There are a large number of classes and webinars that you can take that will give you practical advice about how you can quit drinking alcohol!

Join a Community: Being a part of a community that understands what you are going through and can give you advice and support through your journey is invaluable.

Not only will your community help you, but it is also an opportunity for you to give back as well.

Cider Vinegar Tonic
Cider Vinegar Tonic

Benefits of Quitting Alcohol:

While alcohol detox symptoms can be scary, it is worth it to start building a life that is alcohol-free!

Here are some of the incredible benefits that you can experience if you choose to take the steps to quit drinking alcohol:

Better Sleep: After the alcohol detox symptoms are over, your body can restore itself and you will achieve sleep that you haven’t had since you were a kid. Sleeping soundly and waking up hangover-free is a huge benefit!

Better Overall Health: When you drink heavily, you open yourself up to serious health risks such as the following:

  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Multiple cancers such as mouth, breast, stomach, and liver cancer.
  • Ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn
  • Damage to the Immune System
  • Brain damage
  • Heart disease

And more.

When you stop drinking, your body can start repairing itself. Instead of focusing on minimizing the damage that alcohol does to your body, it can focus on its normal functions and give you better overall health.

Saving Money: If you quit drinking alcohol, your wallet will thank you!

If spending money on alcohol was just a part of your routine, you are going to be blown away at the savings you can accrue once you stop drinking alcohol.

Here is a handy alcohol calculator to help you see how much you would save!

Deeper Connections: When you quit drinking alcohol, you can be more present in your day to day life. This will allow you to really listen and communicate with your loved ones and form deeper connections!

Alcohol Detox Symptoms
Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Getting Through Alcohol Detox:

Now you know everything you need to know about the symptoms of alcohol detox and how long it lasts.

You also know the benefits that are waiting for you on the other side of alcohol detox and the resources you need to get there!

Do you have any questions about quitting drinking? Why not book your place on our next free quit drinking webinar today?

Craig Beck - The Stop Drinking Expert


About the author: Stop Drinking Expert - Craig Beck ABNLP. ABHYP. DhP. is an internationally renowned, specialist alcohol cessation coach and quit drinking mentor. Using his experience as a former problem drinker, combined with professionals qualifications, accreditations and practice as an addiction therapist, ICF licensed coach, master practitioner of NLP and master hypnotherapist. Independently respected and rated. Not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Craig Beck

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  1. Hi Craig, I want to quit drinking, should I completely remove all alcohol from my house when I stop drinking. I live alone and am retired so I drink to take up the boredom. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I am trapped. I've tried to quit drinking numerous times and it only gets worse. I have a high functioning,complex job and have missed work when I am detoxing. I cannot miss work so I refuse inpatient or outpatient treatment for that matter as a means to an end. This situation has built over the last 20 years. How do I quit without risking danger?

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