Alcohol withdrawal is possible as someone stops drinking and works toward their sobriety. Since alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, those considering cessation needs to discuss detox with a medical provider. Understanding the alcohol withdrawal timeline and what to expect during the primary detox period may help. Usually, the most severe parts of withdrawal are over within 72 hours, but detox may last for a week or longer to help patients as they adjust to life without alcohol. If you need support as you recover from alcohol addiction, please contact Serenity House Detox & Recovery Florida today at 866.294.5306.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal occurs when a person who has been drinking heavily for weeks, months, or years suddenly stops drinking. When someone stops drinking suddenly or significantly reduces their alcohol intake, it’s normal to see a range of withdrawal symptoms appear. Some of the common signs of withdrawal include:
- Shaky hands
Most people have mild symptoms of withdrawal initially, but they may progress into more severe problems in some cases.
What Is the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?
A basic timeline for alcohol withdrawal begins with a person’s last drink. From the time of their last drink, they can expect mild withdrawal symptoms to begin within six hours. Those symptoms may also include headaches, vomiting, anxiety, and other non-life-threatening issues.
Within 12 to 48 hours of the last drink, withdrawal may worsen. During this time is when more severe problems such as seizures or hallucinations may occur. Hallucinations usually begin within 24 hours of the last drink, while seizures may occur within the first two days. Someone may see or hear things that are not there when this happens.
Between 48 and 72 hours of the last drink, there is a risk of a rare condition also called the “DTs” or delirium tremens. Unfortunately, DTs are dangerous and may include vivid delusions and hallucinations. Fortunately, only around 5% of people develop this condition when completing alcohol detox.
Is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?
Yes, it can be. Someone who drinks moderately may be able to detox safely with a tapering program or by receiving medication-assisted treatment. However, those who are at risk of delirium tremens, seizures, hallucinations, or delusions could face severe consequences of cessation. DTs may lead to high blood pressure, sweating, a racing heart, confusion, a high fever, and other painful symptoms that may require hospitalization.
For those who drink regularly or in heavy amounts, hospitalization or inpatient care may be the best method for getting through detox safely.
Are There Medications to Treat Alcohol Withdrawal?
Yes, there are medications to treat alcohol withdrawal. Some of the medications used to help through medication-assisted treatment include:
These are all benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines can also be habit-forming, so they may be used in conjunction with other treatments only temporarily to help prevent severe withdrawal symptoms (such as the DTs). Once the withdrawal is complete, other medications or therapies may help the patient overcome issues such as nutritional deficiencies or health complications that may have occurred due to the alcohol use disorder.
Contact Serenity House Detox & Recovery Florida
If you are going to stop using alcohol or want to help someone you love, it’s important to be prepared. The withdrawal timeline may vary depending on the person, but it’s possible to get through it and to move forward regardless of how long it takes. We offer a range of services, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Individual therapy