Alcohol detox is the process that takes place when an individual stops drinking to eliminate their physical dependence on alcohol. Although the process typically takes about six weeks from start to finish, various factors can lengthen or shorten the amount of time that it takes to completely detox from alcohol and be on the road to recovery. Most recovering alcoholics suffer from the most dire withdrawal symptoms during the first few weeks of alcohol detox and as time goes on these symptoms will gradually taper off.
The actual length of time that it takes to completely detox from alcohol depends on how bad the alcohol dependency really is. For those who have been drinking regularly for many years, the alcohol detox process may take longer than for an individual who has only been drinking for a short period of time. Additionally, the amount of alcohol that an individual drinks can also play a key role in the length of time that alcohol detox takes. For the alcoholic who regularly drinks a gallon of hard liquor every day and washes it down with wine or beer, the length of time for alcohol detox will likely be far greater than for the individual who just drinks a six pack of beer every night after work.
Early Symptoms of Alcohol Detox
During the first days after an individual stops drinking they will begin to feel the effects of their alcohol dependency. Withdrawal symptoms may begin within 24 hours of the last drink but in most cases will not become severe until around the fifth day following the last drink. The early symptoms of alcohol detox will likely include:
- anxiety or nervousness
- mood swings
- stomach ache
Later Symptoms of Alcohol Detox
As the recovering alcoholic progresses through the alcohol detoxification process, various other symptoms of withdrawal and detox may become present. Some of the later symptoms of alcohol detox could be more difficult to cope with and are likely to persist for about a week or more in some cases. The later symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include tremors, increased mood swings, agitation and anxiety. For those who are heavily addicted, there is also a risk of convulsions and seizures during the early to mid days after taking the last drink, typically days 3-14. During these stages of detox, it’s important to seek medical help to ensure the safety of the recovering addict during this dangerous time period.
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