Detoxing From Alcohol – What You Need To Know

Detoxing from alcohol from New Life Medical Addiction Services

Detoxing From Alcohol

When someone who has alcohol use disorder (AUD) tries to quit drinking, the very first step in the treatment process is detoxing.

What Is Detoxing From Alcohol?

Detoxing from alcohol is the crucial initial stage in treating alcoholism and AUD. The detoxing phase is where the alcohol is completely flushed from a patient’s body and withdrawal sets in.

Withdrawal symptoms normally subside within 1-2 weeks after starting detox, however, this timeline can be extended based on the duration that someone has been misusing alcohol and the actual amount of alcohol that a patient normally consumes.

Once the detox and withdrawal phases are over, the patient can then start to focus on other elements of the recovery process such as counseling, therapy, and other support programs.

How Does Alcohol Impact A Person?

As a drug, alcohol acts as a depressant that the body and brain become dependent on over the course of months and years of drinking. A person’ brain eventually stops producing certain chemicals that it now receives from alcohol, which is one of the causes of dependence on the drug. This is what causes withdrawal symptoms such as upset stomach, headache, fever, irregular heartbeat and, in severe cases, hallucinations.

Some people are hesitant to stop drinking because they are concerned about withdrawal symptoms that they could experience during the alcohol detoxing process. While some patients only experience minor effects of the detoxing process, others may face extreme discomfort.

Withdrawal symptoms can change rapidly and dramatically, which is why it’s important to detox under the care of medical professionals like those at New Life Medical Addiction Services, located in Marlton, New Jersey. The treatment professionals at our medical detoxing and rehab facility help patients manage their withdrawal discomfort with different medications. This allows them to focus on their recovery and get better.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Detox

The process of detoxing from alcohol can include withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening. For the most part, the duration and severity of a patient’s alcohol misuse will play a role in the withdrawal symptoms they experience. For example, individuals who have struggled with years of heavy alcohol consumption are more likely to develop serious withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens or seizures.

Here are some of the common minor and major symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

Minor symptoms:

  • Tremors (shaking) in the hands, arms, or legs.
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Mood swings

Major symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DTs), a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause confusion, disorientation, fever, seizures, and hallucinations.
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Extreme agitation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe confusion

Although uncommon, the most serious effect from alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens. It can start within two to five days after a patient’s last drink and can be life-threatening. However, less than five percent of people will develop delirium tremens when quitting drinking.

Due to the severity of some withdrawal symptoms, alcohol detox should be monitored by a medical professional, like those at New Life. This is especially true for patients with a history of heart or lung diseases, or other serious medical conditions, as withdrawal symptoms can quickly worsen.

Alcohol Detoxing Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms can begin to manifest as soon as two hours after a patient’s last drink. While the most painful symptoms typically subside within the first 10 days, some mild symptoms can last for several weeks to a year. There is no exact timeline as to when or what withdrawal symptoms someone will experience. The following is a general outline of what to expect.

First Six to Twelve Hours

The initial symptoms of alcohol detox are mild but can quickly begin to worsen as time goes on. Some of the early withdrawal symptoms include nausea, anxiety, headaches, shaking, and irritability.

Day One

At the end of the first 24 hours of detox, withdrawal symptoms can become increasingly severe. Along with the symptoms felt from the first 12 hours, additional symptoms may involve disorientation, hand tremors and seizures.

Day Two

The most severe symptoms from day one will continue into the second day. Hallucinations and panic attacks are common during this time as the body rids alcohol from its system.

Days Three To Seven

For the balance of the first week in detox, the various withdrawal symptoms can come and go. This is also the timeframe where a patient is most at risk for life-threatening symptoms such as delirium tremens.

One Week Plus

By the time a patient has completed their first week of detox, many of the withdrawal symptoms will begin to taper off. While some symptoms may persist for a few weeks, most of them are minor and can be treated with medication.

Even after the most serious withdrawal symptoms have lessened, some people may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) – the prolonged symptoms of detox. Generally, these symptoms include lack of energy, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and dampened reflexes. This phase can last from several months to up to a year.

Summary of the Alcohol Detox Timeline

The most uncomfortable detox withdrawal symptoms usually peak around 10-30 hours after the last drink and start to lessen by 40-50 hours. Although delirium tremens is unlikely, roughly 30% of those who get it will also develop Aspiration Pneumonia. A medically assisted withdrawal helps prevent serious complications, keeps track of a patient’s health condition, and relieves any painful effects.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to opioids, alcohol or other substances, contact the doctors at New Life Medical Addiction Services. Were here to help!

Call us today at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.

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