Everything You Need to Know About the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline by Rehab Recovery Centers

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 14.4 million adults in America have Alcohol Use Disorder.

While most adults have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives, some people drink so much so frequently that their body becomes addicted to or dependent on alcohol.

When your body is dependent on alcohol, it’s important to stop drinking with the aid of a medical professional because of the dangers of the withdrawal symptoms.

Let’s learn more about alcohol detox and the alcohol withdrawal timeline.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder?

How can you tell the difference between occasional alcohol use and alcohol use disorder? People with AUD might engage in behaviors such as:

  • Drinking alone
  • Having a high tolerance (drinking more to feel alcohol’s effects)
  • Eating poorly or not eating
  • Becoming angry or violent when asked about their drinking habits
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Missing school or work due to drinking
  • Making excuses to drink
  • Being unable to control their alcohol intake
  • Continuing to drink even when social, legal, or economic problems develop
  • Giving up important occupational, social, or recreational activities due to alcohol use

In addition to these behaviors, people with AUD might experience physical symptoms such as:

  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking including nausea, shaking, and vomiting
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Tremors the morning after drinking
  • Having lapses in memory (also known as blacking out) after a night of drinking
  • Illnesses such as cirrhosis or alcoholic ketoacidosis

If you think you or a loved one has an addiction to alcohol, it’s best to check in with a healthcare provider or doctor. They’ll do a physical examination as well as ask a number of questions to determine whether or not an alcohol use disorder is present.

6 Hours After Your Last Drink

The first minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms are generally felt after about six hours after your last drink. If an individual has a long history of drinking heavily, they could have a seizure within six hours of their last drink.

12 to 24 Hours After Your Last Drink

A small number of individuals going through alcohol withdrawal will experience hallucinations 12 to 24 hours in. This means that they might see or hear things that aren’t really there. While this is unsettling and scary, doctors generally agree that this isn’t a serious complication.

24 to 48 Hours After Your Last Drink

One to two days after your last drink, minor withdrawal symptoms usually continue. These symptoms might include tremors, stomach upset, and headaches.

If an individual is experiencing only minor withdrawal, then their symptoms tend to peak at 18 to 24 hours and begin to gradually decrease after 4 or 5 days.

48 to 72 Hours After Your Last Drink

At this point, some people experience a very severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This is known as the delirium tremens (DTs), also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium. When a person has this condition, they might have seizures, a very high heart rate, or a high body temperature.

72 Hours After Your Last Drink

Generally, this is the point in the alcohol withdrawal symptoms timeline when the withdrawal is the worst. Rarely, people will experience moderate withdrawal symptoms for up to a month. These can include illusions and a rapid heart rate.

5-7 Days After Your Last Drink

At this time, the symptoms might start to taper off and become less intense. Depending on a number of factors personal to your situation, this might be the end of your withdrawal symptoms.

One Week After Your Last Drink

It’s possible that your alcohol withdrawal symptoms will continue beyond the first week. These symptoms tend to be psychological and could continue for several more weeks if not treated.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The feelings of relaxation and euphoria brought on by alcohol is due to the fact that it depresses the central nervous system. Since the body is usually working to maintain balance, your brain tends to make more neurotransmitter receptors that stimulate or excite the central nervous system.

This means that when you stop drinking, your nervous system is left overactive.

Withdrawal can generally be broken down into three severity stages: mild, moderate, and severe. Symptoms of the mild stage of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Foggy thinking
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

There are a number of additional symptoms that can be experienced in alcohol withdrawal of moderate severity, such as:

  • Increased body temperature, blood pressure, and respiration
  • Mental confusion
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Heightened mood disturbances

In severe circumstances, individuals experience DTs. Here are some of the symptoms associated with DTs:

  • High body temperature
  • Illusions
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion
  • Agitation

DTs are the most severe withdrawal symptoms of alcohol detox. It may take a day or two for DTs to begin after alcohol has left the bloodstream, and they can occur without any warning. This is the main reason that alcohol withdrawal should be supervised closely by medical professionals.

It is never recommended to stop drinking cold turkey without medical supervision. When a person drinks regularly, their brain and central nervous system have been suppressed by alcohol repeatedly for a long period of time. When they try to rebound after this suppression, the process can sometimes be fatal.

Understanding the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline Is a Crucial Part of Detoxing

If you are going to be withdrawing from alcohol, it’s vital that you understand what to expect and what is possible. Because the effects of alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, alcohol detox should always be supervised by a medical professional.

Is it time for your or a loved one to begin the alcohol withdrawal timeline and start a new life? If so, find a rehab/recovery center near you today.

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