alcohol withdrawal timeline

Breaking Your Bond With the Bottle: An Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

15.1 million people in the US struggle with an alcohol disorder.

If you grapple with substance addiction, you are not alone. Millions of Americans wrestle with the negative effects of alcohol on their thinking, health, and relationships.

Yet many overcome their battle and experience untold benefits. A renewed sense of well-being, restored relationships, and improved financial stability are just a few of the rewards former addicts report enjoying once they recover.

Many folks are afraid to stop drinking because they do not know how they will cope with the physical symptoms that result.

Your detox period may not be nearly as long or as painful as you think. It is important, though, to have a medical professional nearby to make sure that your body comes through the withdrawal safely.

This alcohol withdrawal timeline can give you an idea of what to expect.

An Alcoholic Problem

Alcohol acts as a depressive substance on your brain, slowing down its basic functions. It affects the way your brain cells communicate with one another. This can lead to memory loss, blackouts, and long-term cognitive decline.

Drinking too much can also increase your risk of mouth, esophagus, throat, and breast cancers. It can cause heart problems such as arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Heavy drinking can lead to a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and fibrosis. It can also weaken your immune system and make you an easier target for diseases. Those who drink too much are more likely to develop diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Alcohol affects more than just your health. The money you are spending on beer or wine, as well as medical treatments, is a tremendous financial burden.

High levels of alcohol consumption can lead to a decreased sex drive in both men and women. It causes problems with trust, intimacy, and fidelity in marriage and committed relationships. Sobriety is a beautiful gift that you can give to those closest to you.

An Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

When you drink a lot, your brain begins to work in overdrive to keep your nerves sending the right messages to each other. This keeps your organs alive and functioning.

Once you stop drinking, your brain remains in a heightened state for a period of time. The resulting symptoms are known as withdrawal.

The most serious withdrawal manifestations occur within 12-24 hours after your last drink. The severity of your symptoms depends on many factors, including your drinking habits, age, weight, and medical condition.

Those who do not drink frequently are likely to experience mild withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and nausea. Individuals who have been drinking for a long period of time, and multiple times a day, are more likely to have severe reactions.

If your symptoms are mild, it is possible to recuperate at home, but it is important to have someone close by in case your condition worsens. Your environment should be quiet and supportive, with dim lighting, nutritious food, and plenty of liquids available. Refrain from any unnecessary physical activity.

Those with more severe symptoms need to recover in inpatient care or treatment facilities. If you notice an increase in your temperature or pulse, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

Stage 1:  6-12 Hours After Your Last Drink

During the first few hours after you have your last drink, you may notice changes in your mood and minor physical side effects. Symptoms may resemble a hangover and include headaches, nausea, and a loss of appetite.

You may also realize that you are feeling confused, depressed, anxious, or restless. The first phase can also be accompanied by clammy hands, mild handshaking, and sweating.

Stage 2: 12-24 Hours After Your Last Drink

Your symptoms will become more serious beginning 12 hours after you’ve had your last drink. You may develop a fever, sweating, high blood pressure, confusion, and irritability.

Your vital signs need to be monitored during this time. Professionals in a treatment center will monitor your chemical blood levels and IV fluids.

12-24 hours after their last drink is when most people experience the most severe symptoms. They may hallucinate, develop a fever, notice high blood pressure, or even begin having seizures. It is crucial to be overseen by a medical professional during this stage.

Stage 3: 48-72 Hours After Your Last Drink

High blood pressure and hallucinations may continue up to 72 hours after your last drink. It is during this time that Delirium Tremens (DT) occurs in 3-5% of patients.

Delirium tremens involve an increase in temperature, rapid heart rate, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Hallucinations can seem especially real or frightening. Patients may seem unable to put a comprehensive sentence together.

Delirium tremens is most common in folks who have been drinking for 10 years or more. It is critical that patients experiencing these manifestations be under the care of a doctor.

Ongoing Symptoms

Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal tend to decrease within 5-7 days. Medical history, addiction to other substances, and the length of time someone has been drinking, all affect the time it takes them to recover.

For most alcoholics, the best long-term treatment is to stop drinking completely, especially after they have been through withdrawal. You will need to seek help from an outside treatment facility if your home is not a supportive environment.

Time To Heal

An alcohol withdrawal timeline can help you to know what to expect when you detox. The support of professionals, as well as loving friends and family, will go a long way toward helping you through this time.

For more information, contact us today.