What is the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

What is the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

Quitting drinking and pursuing sobriety is essential to improving your physical and emotional health. But, getting sober alone can be difficult and sometimes dangerous. When you are ready to stop drinking, the safest and most effective way to achieve your sobriety goals is at a rehab like Terra Nova Treatment.

Terra Nova is a luxury drug rehab in Arizona. Contact us today to learn more about our Prescott drug rehab programs.

Is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol is legal to purchase; therefore, many people do not consider the highly addictive nature of alcoholic substances. Alcohol is a drug, and using it regularly over a long period can lead to addiction. In time, chronic alcohol use and abuse will lead to changes in the structure and function of your brain. One specific change is in how your brain produces and releases dopamine. Dopamine, sometimes called a “pleasure hormone,” is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that controls many of your emotional responses. It also plays a role in your energy levels.

Typically, your body produces dopamine in response to daily activities, including social interactions, interactions with loved ones, and physical activities. When you drink alcohol, your brain releases far more dopamine than would usually be released during these daily interactions. This leads the brain to actively reduce the amount of dopamine produced. In response to growing alcohol dependency, the brain also increases the number of opioid receptors in your central nervous system.

These changes result in dependence on alcohol. It also leads to an increasing need to drink more to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms and to experience the feelings typically associated with dopamine release.

Can Alcohol Cause Withdrawal?

When a harmful relationship with alcohol evolves into an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism), withdrawal symptoms will occur as part of your sobriety journey. Withdrawal can occur if you try to stop drinking entirely or if you try to reduce how much or how often you drink. Like addiction, detox and withdrawal are unique to the person. The time between your last drink and the onset of withdrawal symptoms will vary based on several factors unique to your relationship with alcohol. Examples include:

  • How much and how often you drink
  • How long you have been drinking
  • If you have any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions
  • If you have completed an alcohol addiction treatment program before and experienced a relapse


What are Common Withdrawal Symptoms for Alcohol?

Everyone who enters a treatment program for alcohol addiction will have a different experience. Similarly, everyone who undergoes withdrawal in detox will also experience various symptoms; however, some symptoms are shared among all individuals. These include mild symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and sweating. Other symptoms people may experience to varying severity include heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, and shaking and tremors.

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Delirium tremens often occurs in individuals suffering from extreme alcohol withdrawal. Unfortunately, DTs can result in seizures, which makes them one of the more life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal. Statistics suggest that approximately one out of every twenty people who experience alcohol withdrawal will also experience delirium tremens.

Symptoms of delirium tremens usually appear within 24-72 hours after you stop drinking. Symptoms of delirium tremens include more than just trembling and shaking. The most common symptoms are fever, fatigue, hallucinations, and intense confusion. In addition, severe and life-threatening seizures can also occur.

What is the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

The alcohol withdrawal timeline looks different for everyone. If you have a severe addiction, your withdrawal symptoms can begin in a matter of hours after your last drink. In most cases, alcohol withdrawal symptoms subside in a week; however, they can persist for a year or more. Unfortunately, there is no definitive timeline for the type and severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms you will experience during detox. However, there are general guidelines.

6-12 hours after your last drink

Mild symptoms occur, including shaking, nausea, headaches, mood swings, and anxiety.

Hours 12-24

Symptoms on the second day of detox are generally similar to day one. In some cases, hallucinations and panic attacks can occur during the second day.

Day 3-7

Many of the symptoms of withdrawal that occurred during the first two days of detox will remain throughout the first week, although they may come and go and vary in severity. The first week of alcohol detox is when you are at the most significant risk for DTs and other severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Beyond week one

By the end of the first week, most alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to subside, but some usually minor symptoms may persist for several weeks. If needed, medically assisted withdrawal programs ensure you can avoid potentially serious complications while helping you manage potentially challenging withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively.

How to Find an Alcohol Detox Program in Arizona

If you or a loved one are ready to take the first steps towards sobriety, an alcohol detox and addiction treatment program in Arizona can help. To learn more about our programs, contact a member of our admissions team at our alcohol rehab in Arizona today.

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