July 29, 2022

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take

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How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take

Four to five days after their last drink people stop experiencing alcohol detox symptoms. The worst of the symptoms usually present themselves around the third day.

When making the decision to quit drinking, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. Especially if you have been in the habit of drinking daily and heavily. Depending on a few factors, detoxing time depends on how much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and whether you’ve experienced alcohol withdrawal before.

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

Since the body works to maintain balance, it will have the brain make additional neurotransmitter receptors that excite the central nervous system. Since alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which is why it causes the feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

Alcohol is not only removed from the receptors from what you originally had but also from the other receptors your body had made when you quit drinking. This causes your nervous system to be overactive. Symptoms can be the following:

  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

With severe alcohol withdrawal you can experience alcohol tremens (DTs) or alcohol withdrawal delirium. Symptoms associated with DT’s include:

  • Illusions
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • High Body Temperature
  • Hallucinations

These are the most severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal

The Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol is a scale doctors often use to look over a person’s withdrawal symptoms and recommend treatments. The more severe a person’s symptoms are the higher the number and the more treatments they are more than likely needed.

You can still receive therapy along with support groups as you go through alcohol withdrawal and you might not even need medications. However, you might need medications if you do have moderate-severe withdrawal symptoms. These would include:

  • Neuroleptic Medications, medications that can help suppress nervous system activity as well as preventing seizures. It is also helpful in preventing agitation that is associated with alcohol withdrawal.


  • Benzodiazepines, a prescription medication prescribed by doctors to help reduce the likelihood of seizures during alcohol withdrawal. These prescription medications can include valium, Xanax, and Ativan
  • Nutritional Support, your doctor may give you nutrients such as thiamine, magnesium, and folic acid to help reduce withdrawal symptoms as well correct nutrient deficiencies due to alcohol abuse.

A beta-blocker can be prescribed by a doctor to help reduce withdrawal-related symptoms. One example would be propranolol which reduces high blood pressure.

When immediate withdrawal symptoms have passed, there are prescription drugs that can be prescribed to reduce the chances of a person to start drinking again. These FDA-approved medications are:

  • Naltrexone (ReVia), can decrease alcohol cravings and help an individual maintain them from using alcohol by blocking opioid receptors.


  • Disulfiram (Antabuse), can decrease alcohol cravings and make an individual feel sick if they drink alcohol while taking it.

A doctor could discuss other medications along with these with you. You can take these medications along with participating in therapy and other support groups.

Alcohol withdrawal timeline

Here are the following general guidelines about when you can predict to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

6 Hours

Minor withdrawals usually begin about six hours after your last drink. An individual with a history of drinking heavily is capable of having a seizure 6 hours after they quit drinking.

12 to 24 Hours

For a small percentage of people some may have hallucinations at this point. They may see or hear things that aren’t there.

24 to 48 Hours

During this time minor withdrawal symptoms usually occur. These symptoms can include tremors, headache, upset stomach. With going through a inor withdrawal at this stage, their symptoms usually peak at 18 to 24 hours and then decrease after four to five days.

48 to 72 Hours

There are more severe forms of alcohol withdrawal that are known as DTs. With these withdrawals, an individual can experience a very high heart rate, high body temperature, or even seizures.

alcohol detox

72 Hours

This is the time when alcohol symptoms are at their worst typically. In rarer cases, moderate withdrawal symptoms could last for around 1 month. These symptoms can consist of a rapid heart rate and hallucinations.

Other factors

It’s been estimated that 50% of people with an alcohol use disorder in 2015 go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking.

Doctors estimate severe symptoms will be present in 3 to 5 percent of people.

There are multiple factors that can affect how long it may take for you to completely withdraw from alcohol.

DT’s risk factors include:

  • History of DTs
  • Abnormal Liver Function
  • Low Platelet Counts
  • Low Potassium Levels
  • Low Sodium Levels
  • History of Seizures with Alcohol Withdrawals
  • Pre Existing Hydration
  • Presence of Brain Lesions
  • Use of Other Drugs
  • Older Age of Time of Withdrawal

It’s important to withdraw from alcohol at a medical facility under medical supervision if you have any of these risk factors. You will need to be able to have medical intervention in case you have any alcohol-related complications.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you have concerns about possible alcohol withdrawal symptoms. A doctor will be able to evaluate your alcohol use along with your general health. Your doctor can help determine how likely it is you’ll experience the symptoms.

Desert Rose Recovery

Here at Desert Rose Recovery, we use evidence-based treatments in helping our patients overcome their addictions.

We offer detox, inpatient, and outpatient treatment programs.

We are nationally recognized and fully accredited, and we accept most insurances.

Call us today to speak with an advisor today!

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