Alcohol Addiction: Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment

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Alcohol Addiction - Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment

Part of alcohol addiction treatment is detox, which is a process of removing traces of a toxic substance in the body. Every time one drinks alcohol, it goes directly to the liver. Unfortunately, for patients who drink more often, the liver never truly clears the body of alcohol because there’s always more coming. Once a person chooses to get sober, the first steps to be taken are to stop drinking spirits and let the body detoxify.

Detox happens over time, and as the levels of alcohol become progressively lower, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may start to appear.

The detox and withdrawal process can be dangerous to a person’s health if not done correctly, hence why this requires the help of a medical professional. It’s important, though, to remember that the patient must not stop drinking abruptly, especially if they are a heavy drinker.

Once the liver metabolizes ethanol and finishes distributing it throughout the body, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will start to appear.

Withdrawal timelines can vary, which is just one reason that patients experience the path to recovery differently. For some, the timeline may last for days; for others, it goes on for months.

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?  The Duration

Though this may vary from one patient to another, most will follow this timeline:

6-8 hours 

Alcohol withdrawal starts 6-8 hours after the patient takes his or her last drink. There will be minor physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such mood changes. Other common symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and anxiety.

12-48 hours 

Moderate symptoms start to appear 1-2 days after the last drink. These are more dangerous and may affect vital signs. Common symptoms during this alcohol withdrawal time frame include high blood pressure, fever, difficulty breathing, tachycardia, sweating, irritability, and confusion.

48-72 hours 

Severe symptoms appear within the first 3 days of detoxification. Seizures and delirium tremens (DTs) are quite common. Both can show up without a warning and are fatal. In fact, approximately 3-5% of patients in alcohol withdrawal experience DTs, and this is considered to be the most severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal. This alone proves the need for close monitoring by a professional.

How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last? The Factors Involved 

How long alcohol withdrawal lasts can be affected by several factors. The main goal of detox is to guarantee a comfortable and safe start to an alcohol addiction treatment program. Alcohol withdrawal protocols may differ from one patient to another, and there are certain factors that can affect the severity and duration of the process.

The first and most important factor is how long the patient used alcohol and the amount they were using before they decided to discontinue.

Patients who consume large amounts of alcohol, over regular intervals and for a longer period of time, are expected to experience more severe and lengthy withdrawal symptoms.

Another important factor is the manner of cessation. Abruptly stopping alcohol use may cause longer and more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Those who stop drinking gradually are less likely to experience severe side effects.

Differences in age, genetics, and mental status will also play a role in determining the intensity and length of the process.

Detox drinks and healthy diets can be helpful. Patients must take routine rest periods and avoid extreme physical activities.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment  


Alcohol and drugs can interact and affect how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and excretes them. Patients must not take drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

The following drugs were outlined in a study proving that they can affect how long alcohol withdrawal lasts. These drugs can cause a delay in alcohol metabolism:

1. Pyrazoles

2. Isobutyramide

3. Methanol and ethylene glycol

4. Disulfiram

Recovery Programs 

A managed detox from alcohol is the first stage in recovery from alcoholism. It’s important to know and understand the factors that influenced you to become a drinker.

While cleansing is the first step to getting a patient’s normal life back, one must be ready to enter an alcohol abuse recovery center for continuous recovery and learn the many sober living skills to help this lifelong process. Haven House is helping men recover from alcohol and drug addiction. We are a Christ-based recovery center that helps change people’s lives by guiding them to grow spiritually through healing.

If you are looking for a drug rehab in Murfreesboro, you may also check our center in Hartsville, TN.