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How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol?

Updated on June 10, 2015

An Alcohol Detoxing Timeline

The length of time it takes to detox from alcohol may vary from person to person, depending on how long and how intensely you were dependent on alcohol.

The more intense the level of addiction is, the harder it gets for you to completely detox from alcohol quickly. However, based on the combined experience of several alcohol rehabilitation facilities, it is possible to arrive at a fairly good estimation on how long it takes to detox from alcohol. Heavy drinkers should NOT attempt to detox from alcohol at home.

If you’re just a casual drinker who’s decided to give up on alcohol, then it would take you hardly any time at all to detox from it completely. In fact, you’re not even likely to notice any of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms that most people recovering from alcohol withdrawal dread such as, nausea, vomiting, mood swings, increased blood pressure, tremors, hallucinations, dizziness, confusion, seizures and body aches. However, if you've been dependent on alcohol for a long time, or have a very low tolerance to alcohol, it might take you a lot longer to completely detox from alcohol.

Depending on the intensity of your addiction, detoxing from alcohol might take you anywhere from just a few hours to almost a year, after you had your last drink.

Stage One of Alcohol Detox:

12 hours after the first drink: The first stage of alcohol detox is recovering from tremulations. This starts within twelve hours of having your last drink and can lasts for twenty four hours. In this stage, you’ll find yourself shaking and wracked with anxiety. You’ll find your arms and legs trembling, and may suffer from nausea and severe headache during this phase of alcohol detox – not much different from a typical hangover.

Stage Two of Alcohol Detox:

48 Hrs. to 2-3 weeks.This stage consists of seizures and lasts for 48 hours, or could last longer, even 2 -3 weeks. It usually happens to people who are intensely addicted to alcohol and starts around 6 hours after their last drink. In this stage, one may suffer from violent shaking of the whole body, much more severe than what is endured in Stage One.

Stage Three of Alcohol Detox:

48 Hrs. to 2 Weeks:This stage of alcohol detox involves hallucinations, and is similar in its timeline to State Two (Seizures). It lasts from 48 hours to a couple of weeks. In this stage, recovering alcoholics may hallucinate about bugs crawling on their skin, and suffer from other deeply affecting hallucinations. This stage is particularly is painful for the loved ones of the recovering alcoholics to endure.

Stage Four of Alcohol Detox:

3 days to 10 after the drink: This is the most dangerous stage of alcohol detox, and happens only to those who have been alcoholics for a long period of time. Called “Delirium Tremens”, it begins anywhere from 3 days to 10 after the last alcoholic drink, and may last for almost two weeks. The symptoms of delirium tremens include, vast confusion – where one suffers from severe hallucinations, see strange sights, hear voices, feel threatened by those around them; high blood pressure; rapid heart rate and seizures. This stage can also be potentially fatal as one may get a stroke or heart attack during it – that is why it is so critical for those with a serious alcohol addiction to enter an alcohol rehabilitation facility where professional medical attention is given.

Stage Five of Alcohol Detox:

One Year: This stage takes the longest and happens to those severely addicted to alcohol with a very low level of tolerance. Known as Protracted Withdrawal, this stage may involve anxiety, depression, seizures, and lack of concentration, memory loss, persistent fatigue and hallucinations.

For those who’re severely addicted to alcohol, the detox process continues beyond just a few days, and the detox symptoms get really worse with days. Individuals will suffer from a massive craving for a drink during this process, feel great physical discomfort and even pain, an increase in hallucinations and seizures, feel threatened by people and pet animals around them, feel greatly confused, and may be prone to strokes or heart attacks. These detox symptoms are all a part of the dreaded delirium tremens (DTs). Often, patients are sedated during this period to prevent them from doing any damage to themselves. This is the last stage of Alcohol Detoxing, and the recovery time can be lessened with medication, taking anywhere from 10 days to 1 year, depending on the severity of the dependency.


Why is alcohol detoxing so hard?

If you have been under the strong influence of alcohol for several years, your tolerance to alcohol would be quite high, and your detox symptoms are likely to be very strong, Alcohol is nothing but a drug that gets you psychologically attached to it, besides being physically addicted. The strong physical addiction causes you to feel seriously ill just hours after you decided to have your last drink.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms include physical, psychological and dangerous detox symptoms. As we discuss them, it is important to note that they vary from person to person, depending on the intensity of your level of alcohol addiction. For heavy drinkers it is always advisable to detox under supervised medical attention.


Rehab For Alcohol Detoxing

There are great risks associated with the alcohol detox process, that is why it is so important that you enter into a reputed alcohol rehab facility on deciding to give up alcohol, so hte withdrawal process is is as smooth and painless as possible. The best rehab facilities have highly qualified doctors and trained nurses, offer 24/7 attention, psychological counselling and group counselling with other recovering alcoholics. Your chances of a permanent recovery from the influence of alcohol are far greater this way, than having to go through the process all by yourself.

Psychological Detox Symptoms:

These feelings that you experience from not having alcohol, and may also involve mental changes. They include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Poor Concentration
  • Depression
  • Social Isolation

Physical Detox Symptoms:

The ways your body can react from the lack of alcohol in your system include the following:

  • Sweating
  • Racing Heart
  • Palpitations
  • Muscle Tensiont
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Tremors
  • Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrea

Dangerous Detox Symptoms

These may happen when someone who is severely addicted to alcohol or tries to give it up all of a sudden. They Include, but are not limited to.

  • Grand man Seizures
  • Heart Attacks
  • Strokes
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Have you ever suffered from detox symptoms before? How did you handle them?

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    • Omeva profile imageAUTHOR

      Omar Jackson 

      3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Hi Peachpurple,

      Im glad to hear a success story. It doesn't always work out that way.

    • peachpurple profile image


      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Luckily My dad managed to detox himself, don't know how


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