To answer the question, how long does it take to detox from alcohol, there are a number of things about problematic alcohol disorder that need to be understood first.
The alcohol detox process is difficult, not only taxing to your mental health, but your physical health as well. How long it takes to detox from alcohol varies from person to person depending on age, gender, genetic makeup, general health, and history of alcohol use. Symptoms most commonly appear within six hours of the last drink consumed or when the consumption of alcohol is significantly decreased. These symptoms sometimes last for days, weeks or even months in some cases.
While the process of alcohol detox and the subsequent withdrawal symptoms are not easy to go through, it is the first step in fighting any alcohol disorders.
Signs of Problematic Alcohol Disorder
As with all other substances, problematic alcohol use can negatively affect all aspects of life.
There are many signs of problematic alcohol use, and it varies from person to person, but some of the tell-tale signs stated in the DSM-5 include:
- Alcohol taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful effort to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
- Cravings, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by alcohol use.
- Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use when it’s physically hazardous.
- Continued use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
- The need to drink more to achieve desired effects.
Anyone, regardless of age, health, gender, or history can become problematic to alcohol. If you suspect yourself or a loved one could be developing a problem with alcohol dependency, it is important to seek help from a health care professional or from an alcohol rehab facility that specializes in alcoholism and addiction.
How To Help Problematic Alcohol Abuse
A good way to help prevent problematic alcohol is to look for these warning signs. Do you find yourself using more than you meant to or needing more to get the same effect? How many drinks are you having? How long is the time-frame with which you’ve been drinking? Do you binge drink (drinking more than 4 or more drinks on any occasion)? Do you take little drinks throughout the day to feel better? Have you ever felt as though you wouldn’t be able to fit in or have a good time without being under the influence of alcohol? Simple questions such as these serve as little reminders which can help in understand if a problem exists.
There is no definitive way to prevent alcohol addiction since there are many factors which contribute to how alcohol affects your body and mind. But knowing how alcohol affects you can help prevent alcohol abuse.
Speaking with a health professional and being honest about your drinking habits and the effects it may have on your body will help determine if you should or not be consuming alcohol.
What Happens During Alcohol Detox?
There are stages that occur during alcohol detoxification stated in the DMS-5 and by most professionals. These stages include both physical and mental symptoms which vary from mild to severe to potentially life-threatening.
- Stage One takes place in the first six to twelve hours. Some symptoms include nausea, headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, anxiety, and stomach pains.
- Stage Two starts in the next twelve to forty-eight hours. This stage is when the symptoms escalate including things such as seizures and visual, sensory, and auditory hallucinations. Tonic-clonic seizures occur in fewer than 3% of individuals.
- Stage Three is the most severe stage, typically beginning anywhere between hours forty-eight and seventy-two. Symptoms in this stage involve fever, rapid heart rate, sweating, confusion, high blood pressure and the potentially life-threatening delirium tremens.
- Stage Four is when withdrawal symptoms slowly start to settle down and tend to dissipate within the next four to seven days.
Symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and autonomic dysfunctions may persist for up to 3-6 months at lower levels of intensity. Alcohol detoxification/withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening event if not handled properly, so it is important to seek professional help immediately.
Delirium Tremens, or “DTs” for short, is a potentially dangerous condition caused by alcohol withdrawal and is one of the more extreme symptoms of the detoxification process. DTs are signified by confusion and delirium and a change in level of consciousness. It is considered fatal in 5% – 15% of all cases. Chances of developing delirium tremens increase when the individual is older, has a history of alcohol withdrawal, has had DTs previously, has poor liver function or experiences more severe symptoms from the start.
Delirium Tremens is a serious condition, and it is important to call 911 for help if you or a loved one are experiencing signs of DTs. Reach out to SAMHSA’s national helpline available 24 hrs., 365 days a year at 1-800-662-4357 to find local treatment facilities near you is the next step to dealing with DTs.
Alcohol Detox – Healthcare
Healthcare professionals may use medication to treat symptoms over the alcohol withdrawal timeline. It is common for doctors to monitor the person’s vitals and use medications to manage seizures as well as other withdrawal symptoms.
If a person chooses to go through detox slowly, symptoms can be minimal or entirely avoided, but it is important to consult a professional and work to create a schedule that you can safely follow in order to decrease alcohol intake.
Doctors also sometimes recommend supplements, like B-1 (thiamine) or B-9 (folic acid), or dietary changes in order to support the body through withdrawals. Please be sure to consult with a doctor or health care professional before taking or starting any new medications or supplements.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?
So, to answer the question, how long does it take to detox from alcohol: While there is an average amount of time it takes to detox from alcohol, there are many factors that can extend this time. Alcohol detox varies from person to person, so it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months for the symptoms to completely disappear, but the average person takes about a week to fully detox. DMS-5 states that it may be greater than 80% of alcohol users at some point have experienced alcohol withdrawals. With 10% of alcohol users experiencing withdrawal delirium or withdrawal seizures.
The best way to handle alcohol detox is through the proper care from a health care professional or alcohol detox/rehab facility. It is risky to attempt to detox alone, without professional care and oversight. So, please seek proper health care professional assistance.
We are happy to discuss your needs and answer all questions you might have about detoxing from alcohol. You can reach us at: (805) 650-3094