To properly detox from alcohol consumption, various people need to wait for varying lengths of time. The length of the detox process varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the person.
In rare instances, mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms might even continue for a month, and certain symptoms can appear and disappear over a few years. Treatment can make detoxification more comfortable and bearable for those with substance use disorders. At first, withdrawal symptoms can be frightening. However, with the help of professionals at a treatment facility, individuals may control their withdrawal symptoms and complete the alcohol detoxification procedure to begin their recovery and continue enjoying life.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol dependency may occur if you misuse alcohol or consume large amounts of it.
Alcohol dependency develops when your body changes its functioning as a result of adjusting to the presence of alcohol in your system. For example, for particular neurotransmitters to continue functioning correctly, your brain modifies their function. If you suddenly quit drinking, your brain will continue to operate in this altered manner. As a consequence, there are chemical and neurotransmitter abnormalities that lead to withdrawal symptoms. Although withdrawal symptoms can range from minor to severe, they occasionally pose a life-threatening hazard.
What Are Alcohol Cravings?
Strong desires characterize the time of alcohol withdrawal for alcohol for many people. Over time, excessive alcohol use alters your brain’s reward system, resulting in intense impulses to consume alcohol, especially in reaction to certain environmental signals.
Hours after your last drink, you could start to feel the desire to drink again. However, cravings for alcohol can linger for a very long time beyond the acute withdrawal stage, with some people still having cravings years after quitting.
The good news is that addiction therapy can assist you in avoiding triggers, finding healthy methods to deal with urges, and even helping reverse certain brain alterations. With the correct help, anyone may live a meaningful life without abusing alcohol.
The Science Behind Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is linked to relaxation, is the main neurotransmitter (GABA). Additionally, GABA aids in synthesizing endorphins, which are responsible for a feeling of well-being. The brain adjusts its neurotransmitter synthesis to consider the impact of alcohol since excessive alcohol use results in a GABA imbalance that the brain develops tolerance to. The brain’s chemical equilibrium is upset when alcohol usage stops, which causes unpleasant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter connected to the body’s reward system, is impacted by alcohol misuse as well. This neurotransmitter controls motivation, pleasure, and energy. The body’s sensation of attention, muscular coordination, cognition, and mood are all supported by dopamine. Dopamine is released when alcohol is consumed. The brain becomes more reliant on alcohol for feel-good neurotransmitters as the body develops a larger tolerance for it. Dopamine production stops when chronic excessive drinking is abruptly discontinued, resulting in withdrawal symptoms on the physical and mental levels.
When Does Alcohol Withdrawal Start?
Alcohol withdrawal will begin when the blood alcohol level falls below what is deemed normal for the particular person.
Some people may have mild effects six hours after their last drink. Age, gender, heredity, general health, and history of alcohol use are some of the variables that affect how long withdrawal takes to start.
Withdrawal symptoms might also develop when alcohol use is drastically decreased but not completely halted. In these circumstances, the onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be delayed and less pronounced.
How to Prevent Alcohol Withdrawal?
Although some individuals may be expecting a quick and painless alcohol detox without the sorrow and suffering of alcohol withdrawal, there is no proven technique to prevent symptoms. As always, the best way to prevent withdrawal is to refrain from drug abuse.
Theoretically, one might progressively cut back on alcohol use to allow the brain to acclimate to the decreased activity, but this seldom happens in reality. We refer to this as weaning off alcohol. Alcoholism frequently manifests as a lack of control over alcohol consumption. Due to addiction, tolerance, and physical reliance, people tend to drink more alcohol over time rather than less. Professional alcohol detox can provide a secure and encouraging setting for detoxification. It is frequently the best choice for them.
How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?
Everyone’s experience with alcohol withdrawal will be unique, and it mostly relies on how much and how frequently alcohol was used. Physical signs of alcohol withdrawal usually peak 48 to 72 hours after the last drink and persist for seven to ten days, although they can extend up to two weeks. After-two-week symptoms are often more psychological and, in rare situations, can continue for several months.
Although individual alcohol withdrawal symptoms may differ, the overall timeframe may be divided into four stages:
Stage 1: People will feel headaches, anxiety, stomachaches, sleeplessness, low appetite, and nausea in the first six to twelve hours.
Stage 2: In the next 12 to 48 hours, withdrawal symptoms worsen, including seizures and hallucinations.
Stage 3: Within the next 48 to 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms might include delirium tremens, a potentially lethal illness, fever, sweating, bewilderment, a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and confusion.
Stage 4: After 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms will start to lessen, and over the following four to seven days, they will completely disappear.
In stage three, the withdrawal symptoms are at their worst. Knowing what relieves alcohol withdrawal is crucial since it may be a potentially life-threatening situation if not addressed or treated appropriately.
What Is Alcohol Detox?
The removal of alcohol and all of its poisons from your body is known as alcohol detox. Unfortunately, despite being widely used in our culture, alcohol withdrawal is one of the most harmful pharmacological effects. Professional doctors advise against alcohol detoxing on your own. To guarantee your safety at all times, seek the advice of a medical expert. Medical advice also ensures that a specialist can help in case of difficulties. Some people may be able to undergo home medical detoxification with frequent doctor visits, while those with more severe alcoholism usually require inpatient treatment. For alcohol withdrawal, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests inpatient care.
Professional doctors advise against alcohol detoxing on your own.
Symptoms A Patient Will Experience During Alcohol Detox
According to research, one-third of those with a drug use disorder and 50% of those with one will have moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. When someone dependent on alcohol quits drinking, their body, brain, blood levels, and neurotransmitters are shocked since the alcohol is no longer in their system. Their hyperactive nervous system can cause a variety of symptoms.
Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Sweating, anxiety, sadness, nausea, loss of appetite, and headaches are some mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 75% of those who stop drinking will also have post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Most psychological symptoms impact reactions to stress, sleep habits, and mood. After the detox process, these symptoms appear, can linger for two years, and come and go for a few days at a time.
Dangerous withdrawal symptoms
A fast heart rate, or tachycardia, is possible among those with a history of excessive or prolonged alcohol consumption. A person may have little or no signs of tachycardia in various circumstances. Untreated can cause more serious problems, including a stroke, sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure, or even death.
Severe alcohol withdrawal often results in tonic-clonic seizures, which induce stiffness and jerking or twitching phases of muscular activity. Unusual feelings, nausea, vertigo, loss of consciousness, and difficulty breathing can all result from this kind of seizure. Delirium tremens can develop from untreated tonic-clonic seizures.
DTs symptoms include high body temperature, psychosis, hallucinations, and seizures in a person going through severe withdrawal. Without medical help, the mortality rate for those with DTs is 20%, with respiratory failure, cardiac arrhythmias, and infection being the most prevalent causes of death. Extended effects, such as exhaustion, insomnia, and mood swings, might linger for months.
Factors Affecting Alcohol Detox Timeline
For each person, the length of the detox process and the intensity of the symptoms vary. Whether a person has been drinking for weeks, months, or years, they might still suffer the effects of alcohol withdrawal. The length of the detoxification procedure, however, mostly relies on how much alcohol the person has consumed and for how long.
Length of Addiction
Since someone who has been drinking for a longer period of time may experience withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time than someone who has just been drinking for a few months, experts suggest medically assisted detox if the individual has a longer history of alcohol use. People who begin drinking at 17 or younger have a higher chance of developing hallucinations throughout the detoxification process and may endure withdrawal symptoms for longer.
The way someone goes through detox can also affect how long withdrawal takes. A person will often experience withdrawal symptoms more quickly if they stop drinking abruptly or cold turkey. However, there are several situations when quitting abruptly might be risky. It depends on how much alcohol is used and how long the person has had a drug use issue. That is why it is always recommended to do detox under medical supervision.
Level of Addiction
The severity of a person’s alcohol use disorder determines how long their detox therapy will last. People often begin to experience alcohol detox symptoms six to eight hours after their last drink if their alcohol consumption is modest or moderate. Their symptoms will then commonly last for another five to seven days. The consequences of more and more frequent alcohol use, however, often last for two weeks or longer.
Other elements that impact how long the detox process takes include the amount of alcohol ingested before to starting it and how frequently it is consumed. Others who binge drink could go through a different detox process than those who drink consistently throughout the day. Alcohol and other drug usage might make the detox process more difficult and cause greater side effects.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can also be influenced by a person’s habits and physical traits, such as age, weight, biological sex, mental health, general physical health, heredity, and drug use. For example, older individuals with poorer physical or mental health typically have more severe symptoms than younger individuals. While these elements may contribute to a person’s recovery, the intensity and duration of the detoxification process mostly rely on the quantity, frequency, and duration of alcohol consumption.
Why Is Medication Used During Alcohol Detox?
People may need to detox for various reasons, including drug misuse, alcoholism, and prescription drug addiction. Detox is intended to rid the body of addictive chemicals. Although this does not indicate that addiction therapy is over, it is a crucial first step. So, what part do medicine play in the detox process and the subsequent addiction treatment?
It has been proven that medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a successful strategy for treating addiction. MAT combines counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and drugs for detoxification to assist patients with their addiction. Medication plays a crucial role in this procedure since it can:
Decrease the other effects of withdrawal
Cravings are only one of the detoxification symptoms. Worry, melancholy, sweating, stomach discomfort, and muscular pains are common. These symptoms may be made tolerable with the use of medication. And in certain circumstances, medicine makes detox considerably safer. Some addictive drugs, like Xanax, might be risky to stop using suddenly. Without the correct medical care, if you try to quit abruptly, you risk experiencing adverse effects, including seizures or passing away.
By employing medicine to decrease the quantity of the substance in your system gently, the trained staff at addiction treatment facilities may assist you in progressively eliminating hazardous chemicals from your body. Fewer withdrawal symptoms and a considerably lower chance of adverse side effects.
Lower the risk of relapse
Relapse frequently happens during the addiction recovery process. Even if you make every effort toward sobriety, your addiction may still be triggered. Although upsetting, relapse is natural. Medication can lower the likelihood of relapsing by enabling individuals to manage the pressures leading to relapse more effectively.
When used with cognitive behavioral therapy, individuals can develop the skills necessary to manage their triggers and move on without relapsing. Patients who get therapy tend to follow their treatment plan more closely.
Medications Used To Treat Alcohol Detox
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may sometimes be deadly or exceedingly painful. Fortunately, an alcohol withdrawal syndrome may be treated by qualified healthcare providers to reduce symptoms and make the process more tolerable.
According to research, psychotherapy and other treatment modalities, such as medication-assisted treatment, can be used in conjunction with one another to treat alcohol addiction and support long-term sobriety. Among the medicines that can help reduce craving are:
When you drink alcohol, disulfiram causes an unpleasant bodily reaction that serves as a deterrent. In addition, it might make you feel a lot of hangover symptoms quickly after drinking, which can help you refrain from drinking.
An opioid antagonist called naltrexone binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Naltrexone has been demonstrated to decrease dopamine levels in the brain and lower alcohol intake in animal studies. Opioid antagonists also lessen the impact of outside signals and drinking triggers.
By restoring the normal chemical signaling in the brain that is typically disturbed by withdrawal, acamprosate may aid in treating alcohol withdrawal.
What Comes After Alcohol Detox?
Rarely is detoxification enough to sustain long-term abstinence. Finding the root reasons for addiction and taking action to address them are essential components of effective addiction therapy.
A key initial step in addiction therapy is frequent detoxification. If you are dependent on alcohol or experiencing withdrawal symptoms, exercising the introspection, contemplation, and skill development needed to overcome addiction is challenging. Your body and mind will be prepared for long-term rehabilitation programs after detox.
A range of therapeutic modalities may be used in alcohol use disorder substance addiction therapy. According to research, group programming, medicine, and behavioral therapy can all be used to treat addiction. Aftercare is typically provided following either inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment.
How Alcohol Detox Treatment Helps
According to studies, those who go through alcohol detoxification with a doctor’s assistance will have a higher chance of making a full recovery. In rare circumstances, expert medical supervision is required to manage any life-threatening symptoms during the detoxification procedure. Treatment can reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms in milder detoxification situations so patients can concentrate on healing.
Physical Health and Safety during Alcohol Detox
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms that are mild to moderate can be managed either impatient or outpatient. Still, it is crucial to have medical monitoring throughout detox to watch for any potentially serious symptoms. A medical setting may also be necessary for the care of severe symptoms. Professionals can evaluate patients at the beginning of therapy to gauge the intensity of symptoms. They can continue to watch patients for any issues that could crop up during detox. Medical practitioners might provide patients with drugs in addition to observations to lessen cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms. Beta-blockers can lessen trembling, calm the heart rate, and lessen the desire for drinking. Medication for seizures and anxiety can help people prevent or lessen seizures and anxiety. The requirement for hospitalization and the likelihood of recurrence can be decreased with the use of medication-assisted treatment.
If a person with a drug use disorder has a fever, nausea, or unusual breathing, they should immediately consult a doctor. When starting the detox process, older people with a history of seizures, liver issues, or other drug users should also seek medical care. People may require close observation and seizure prevention when there is an elevated chance of seizures. For the safety of the patient, therapy is required in certain situations. However, regardless of how severe their symptoms are, therapy can boost a person’s chances of making a full recovery.
Positive Outcomes After Detox
When caring experts assist people through the detox process, they are more likely to have a secure and effective recovery. People receiving treatment need emotional and physical assistance to properly detox and then continue their healing. Individuals can work on modifying their thinking and habits to better control their emotions with the assistance of professionals using techniques like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
To assist people in accepting their circumstances and maintain their drive during rehabilitation, professionals also guide individuals via techniques like motivational interviewing and acceptance and commitment therapy. Another strategy that aids in successful recovery is mindfulness-based sobriety therapy, which keeps individuals engaged in the now rather than obsessing on the past or worrying about the future. To return to concentrating on personal well-being and the well-being of their families, friends, communities, and occupations, treatment helps people in all aspects of recovery. It provides people with the responsibility, support, safety, and drive they need to recover successfully from detox.
The Importance Of Professional Help In Alcohol Detoxification
It is critical to seek medical help if you or someone you care about is struggling with withdrawal symptoms or trying to self-detox. In severe symptoms like delirium tremens, death can become a highly plausible conclusion.
Consultation with a medical practitioner or seeking professional therapy is the safest method to address alcohol misuse and start the detox process. When you ask your doctor how to detox from alcohol, they will explain that it is the first phase in an all-encompassing recovery plan. If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you should seek expert assistance and pursue therapy following detox to address the underlying cause of the issue.
Beginning the journey toward sobriety can be challenging, but Neworld Medical Detox Centre can guide you toward a happier, alcohol-free future. Get in touch with us to find out more about treatment options for alcoholism that can meet your requirements.