How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last? New Life Has Answers

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last? New Life Medical Addiction Services Has Answers

Many people ask the doctors and addiction specialists at New Life Medical Addiction Services the question – how long does alcohol withdrawal last? In this article we will answer that question and also provide an overview of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and its effects.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the set of symptoms that manifest when a person who is physically dependent upon alcohol suddenly stops drinking or drastically reduces their alcohol intake. It is important to remember that alcohol is physically addictive as well as psychologically addictive, which exacerbates its impact on a person when they want to stop drinking.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Shakes & Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Racing Heart/Heart Palpitations
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Abnormal Breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

What Constitutes Alcohol Misuse or Abuse?

Alcohol misuse refers to the improper or excessive use of alcohol, which can lead to various physical health issues, mental health challenges, and social problems. Typically, consuming more than one drink per day for women (or seven drinks per week) or more than two drinks per day for men (or fourteen drinks per week) is considered alcohol misuse. Another form of alcohol misuse is binge drinking, which occurs when a man consumes five or more drinks, or a woman consumes four or more drinks within a short timeframe.

Engaging in binge drinking or alcohol misuse can heighten the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD). An AUD is a condition characterized by the inability to control alcohol consumption despite experiencing negative and harmful consequences. Craving alcohol, developing a tolerance to its effects, and encountering withdrawal symptoms upon attempting to quit are among the signs indicating the presence of an AUD. When an individual becomes physiologically dependent on alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms experienced after reducing or ceasing alcohol intake can be extremely distressing and uncomfortable. Consequently, individuals often revert to drinking alcohol as a means of alleviating their discomfort. Instead of drinking alcohol try to relax by playing online games. If you are looking for top-notch gaming experiences with fast withdrawals and great support, then try Slotogate. This reliable platform offers everything from traditional blackjack and poker to the exciting online casino echtgeld willkommensbonus. No matter your preference, they’ve got you covered. Check them out now.

Alcohol Withdrawal – What Causes It?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs due to the changes in brain activity resulting from prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption. While the neurochemical mechanisms behind alcohol withdrawal syndrome are intricate, the symptoms associated with it reflect an attempt by the brain to restore the disrupted balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter activity, which was initially disturbed by prolonged alcohol use.

Alcohol exerts complex effects on the body, with two key neurochemicals playing a role in both the immediate effects of drinking and the development of alcohol withdrawal syndrome upon cessation. These neurochemicals are gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the brain’s primary inhibitory chemical, and glutamate, the brain’s primary excitatory chemical. When alcohol is consumed, it alters the functioning of GABA and certain glutamate receptors, resulting in a suppression of brain activity that manifests as reduced anxiety and sedation. In response, the brain compensates by reducing GABA release and increasing glutamate signaling to counterbalance the alcohol-induced changes. This adaptive process, known as “tolerance,” remains effective as long as alcohol consumption continues.

However, if alcohol intake is abruptly stopped or significantly reduced, it disrupts the normal brain activity, leading to a hyper-aroused state. This hyper-arousal gives rise to a variety of withdrawal symptoms that can emerge within hours after the last drink. The severity and specific symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary significantly from person to person. It is estimated that over 80% of individuals with an alcohol use disorder may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Stages

The withdrawal stages and severity that a person experiences when they give up alcohol hinges on a range of factors. Depending on a person’s actual level of physical alcohol dependence, the level of acute alcohol withdrawal will vary.

The American Academy of Family Physicians details 3 stages that a person in withdrawal may experience.

Stage 1 (Mild): Symptoms may include headache, insomnia, anxiety, hand tremors, gastrointestinal disturbances, and heart palpitations.

Stage 2 (Moderate): Symptoms may include Stage 1 mild symptoms in addition to increased blood pressure or heart rate, confusion, mild hyperthermia, and rapid abnormal breathing.

Stage 3 (Severe): Symptoms include Stage 2 moderate symptoms in addition to visual or auditory hallucinations, seizures, disorientation, and impaired attention.

Duration of the Alcohol Withdrawal Process?

The timeline for alcohol detoxification can vary from person to person, depending on factors such as the quantity and duration of heavy drinking, concurrent physical and mental health conditions, and individual differences. While specific timelines may differ, a general outline of the alcohol withdrawal process could look like the following:

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline:

Within 6-12 hours after the last drink, mild early withdrawal symptoms may emerge, such as headaches, mild anxiety, insomnia, slight tremors, and stomach discomfort.

Around 24 hours, some individuals may start experiencing hallucinations, whether visual, auditory, or tactile in nature.

Between 24-72 hours, various symptoms may peak and begin to stabilize or subside, although some more prolonged symptoms may persist for weeks or even longer. The risk of seizures is highest within 24 to 48 hours after the last drink, requiring careful monitoring and seizure prevention measures. Withdrawal delirium, known as DTs, can occur between 48 and 72 hours after the last drink.

While it is uncommon, a small number of individuals may experience lingering withdrawal symptoms such as sleep disturbances, fatigue, and mood changes that can persist for months. It is important to note that with proper medical detoxification and withdrawal management services, the majority of people make a full recovery.

Alcohol Detox Treatment

Medical detoxification is commonly regarded as the initial phase of treatment. It is designed to assist individuals in navigating the challenging process of alcohol withdrawal. However, it does not specifically address the underlying thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to alcohol use. To maintain long-term sobriety, ongoing support is crucial, and various treatment approaches and settings can provide this support following the completion of detox.

For individuals experiencing moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or those at risk of experiencing such symptoms (for example, if they have previously had severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms), inpatient monitoring and treatment at an acute care hospital or a detox-equipped facility are often necessary. Outpatient treatment, like that available at New Life Medical Addiction Services in Marlton, NJ, may be an option for individuals with mild-to-moderate withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, please contact us today. Call us today at: 856-942-3700
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