alcohol detox

What to Expect During Alcohol Detox: A Timeline and Guide

Have you decided to take the first step in recovering from alcohol addiction? Then congratulations on taking the hardest step towards recovery.

Once you’ve made the decision to stop drinking, you’ll need to go through alcohol detox. If you’ve been drinking heavily, this could be a difficult process. You may experience a lot of withdrawal effects.

This article tells you exactly what to expect regarding the detoxification process.

Alcohol Detox Timeline

You’ll start to experience the first of the withdrawal symptoms around six hours after you’ve had your last drink. Depending on how strong your last drink was, this could take a bit longer or it could come on a little sooner.

During this time, you can expect to feel agitated or anxious. You might find things that wouldn’t normally bother you to be completely intolerable and you might feel very anxious about going through the detox process.

On the physical side of things, you might experience symptoms such as headaches. You might start to shake and you may feel nauseous and even start to vomit.

12 to 24 Hours

Around 12 to 24 hours into the process, you may start to experience more serious side effects. You can feel confused and disoriented, and you can experience tremors in your hands too.

In extreme cases, you might experience seizures. This is why it’s vital you detox from alcohol in the right environment. With the right medical assistance, you can be given medications which will keep the seizures under control.

After 48 Hours

At the 48 hour mark, you might feel like you have a fever; you may feel extremely hot and you could start to sweat excessively. At this phase, you might suffer from auditory or visual hallucinations.

You might also experience insomnia. It’ll be difficult for you to fall asleep and when you do get to sleep, you might feel as if you’re quality of sleep isn’t very good.

Factors That Affect Symptoms

There are various factors at play that might affect the kinds of symptoms you’ll experience as you withdraw from alcohol. For example, how often you drank alcohol, how much you’d drink in one sitting, and your medical history.

Not everyone who withdraws from alcohol will experience these heavy symptoms; however, for the heavier drinkers, it’s much more likely.

Don’t Detox Alone

You can detox from a lot of other drugs without medical supervision, but alcohol is definitely not one of them. The seizures you can suffer from alcoholism can sometimes result in death.

Alcohol withdrawal is not something you should take lightly. Don’t try to stop drinking by yourself; you need to check yourself into a rehab facility.

Inpatient Rehab

In order to withdraw from alcohol, you should attend an inpatient rehab program.

So what exactly is an inpatient program? Basically, this means you’ll be living in the rehab center 24 hours a day.

This is strongly recommended for alcohol detox, as it means you can be monitored at all times by medical professionals. If you experience any bad side effects, such as seizures, you can be prescribed medication that’ll help to reduce them. If you experience seizures without proper supervision, it could have deadly consequences—don’t risk it.

You can expect an inpatient rehab treatment program to last anywhere between one to three months.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab differs from inpatient rehab because you don’t live at the rehab facility. Instead, you continue to live at home and regularly go into the center for treatment. This is not recommended for heavy drinkers, as you don’t want to experience difficult withdrawal symptoms while you’re alone at home.

If you’re a less serious drinker who isn’t at high risk for serious side effects, you might want to consider outpatient rehab. One of the main advantages of this kind of treatment is that it’s more affordable than going to inpatient rehab.

Outpatient rehab is also great if you have other responsibilities you can’t afford to get out of. For example, you might need to keep going to work or school, or you might need to look after your children.

What to Expect After Detoxing

Once you’ve successfully detoxed from alcohol, it’s only the beginning of your recovery. If you’re an alcoholic, you probably have underlying mental illnesses that are the cause of your condition. Many alcoholics suffer from major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

Once you’ve successfully detoxed, it’s essential that you address these issues. Many alcoholics don’t even realize they have a problem. Being able to put a name to the issues you have can make a world of difference.

If it’s identified that you do have a mental illness, you can start attending counseling sessions. These sessions will help to teach you mindfulness techniques and they’ll also teach you to live a better, sober life.

If you detox without addressing the psychological factor, it’s much more likely you’ll relapse.

A Sober Living Facility

After you complete your rehab program, you might want to consider spending some time in a sober living facility. A sober living facility is somewhere you live alongside other ex-alcoholics and addicts.

There’s help always available to you, so if you feel that you’re going to relapse, you’ll have access to the support you need immediately. Many alcoholics will relapse shortly after they detox, so living in such a facility for a while can be incredibly helpful to the recovery process.

Take the First Step Today

Alcohol detox is the first step on the road to recovery. Once you successfully get all the alcohol out of your system, you’ll start to feel like your old self again and you’ll be able to get your life back on track.

Get in touch with us today to find a substance abuse rehab program near you.

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.