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How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?

Open journal with word “Detox” on table with pen and plant.
If you struggle with alcohol dependency, the first step in recovery is detoxification. Here’s what you should know about alcohol detox.

Alcohol or drug dependency is a form of chronic substance misuse. Dependency makes addiction recovery more challenging because it requires detoxification. This process is how the body purges itself of alcohol or drugs. It can be extremely dangerous to attempt detoxification without medical supervision. The body’s response can be violent and potentially fatal.

But how long does the detoxification process take?

The time it takes to detoxify depends upon the extent of the person’s dependency. While some people detox in one week, others need up to 1 month before the symptoms subside completely. If you choose to undergo detox in a rehabilitation center, you will have access to medications that make the experience easier. The following details will help you understand the detoxification process.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?

There is a general consensus among addiction recovery specialists that the initial detoxification process should last approximately 1 week. Nevertheless, the symptoms can endure considerably longer. Detox can fall into the following stages:

  • 8 hours. The effects of alcohol withdrawal tend to first present themselves between 8 and 12 hours after the last drink. People with severe dependency might experience significant symptoms as early as 6 hours after abstaining from alcohol consumption. Initial symptoms might include tremors, nausea, headaches, paranoia and heavy sweating. Seizures might also occur during the initial stage in people with long-term alcohol dependency.
  • 12 hours. After 12 hours, withdrawal symptoms tend to increase. The symptoms might include hallucinations in addition to sweating, shaking, nausea, fever and confusion.
  • 48 hours. People with advanced alcohol dependency will experience delirium tremens by the 48-hour point. This involves severe hallucinations and delusions combined with high blood pressure, a racing heart, vomiting, headaches and body aches.
  • 72 hours. Withdrawal symptoms are typically the most severe at the 72-hour mark, though they generally begin to subside at this stage.

In the majority of cases, those experiencing withdrawal will not necessarily have symptoms severe enough to last longer than a week. And while early hallucinations do occur, they are rare in people who aren’t nutrient deficient. But cycles of alcohol dependency can affect your susceptibility to serious withdrawal symptoms. If you’ve experienced alcohol withdrawal in the past, you are at an increased risk for symptoms again.

However, a medically assisted detox can help spare you the worst of the symptoms while helping minimize the risk of a severe response.

Medically Assisted Treatment at The Raleigh House

The most appropriate treatment for alcohol withdrawal will be determined by a scale known as the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol, Revised. This assessment is performed quickly, generally within 10 minutes, and relies upon a point system. A person with a score under 10 will likely not require withdrawal medication. A higher score is an indication of more severe symptoms that could need medication-assisted intervention.

Sadly, many people avoid treatment for alcohol dependency due to a dread of debilitating withdrawal symptoms. If you are apprehensive about rehabilitation because you are afraid of enduring extreme pain and discomfort, we offer treatment strategies that significantly minimize withdrawal side effects.

At The Raleigh House, we provide a safe, nonjudgmental environment for people struggling to break free from alcohol dependency. Our alcohol detox program offers a holistic approach to recovery, providing nutritional support and a medical team that delivers 24-hour monitoring.

If you feel your drinking is no longer under your control, please contact The Raleigh House team to initiate the admissions process.

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