Alcohol addiction can be crippling to the point where your life seemingly stops. Once you realize how serious a problem you have, you might think you can just stop drinking, but it’s not that easy. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even deadly in severe cases. As a result, it’s crucial to seek treatment from a professional.
Whether you see your regular doctor about your alcohol use disorder or enter a rehab treatment center, you will probably need to go through the detoxification process. Once you finish with that, you may still experience withdrawal. This is what you can expect in terms of the length of time it takes for your symptoms to fade.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and Its Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is not a medical condition unto itself; instead, it encompasses a variety of symptoms you can experience if you are a heavy drinker who suddenly quits drinking cold turkey or dramatically reduces your alcohol intake. Once your body becomes dependent on large amounts of alcohol, when you stop or reduce the level, it results in side effects that can range from irritatingly uncomfortable to severe and life-threatening.
What to Expect With Alcohol Detox
Detox is the process during which all traces of alcohol are eliminated from your system. Typically, you will need medications to help manage your withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines are given to ease you through the process. You also have access to medical personnel who can assist you if your symptoms become unbearable.
Depending on the length and severity of your alcohol use disorder, your age and your weight, your symptoms can range from minor, moderate or severe in intensity. Your symptoms can also begin to appear in as little as two hours to as long as several days after you’ve had your last alcoholic beverage. Most people experience at least the following symptoms:
- Anxiety, irritability and nervousness
- Shaking or tremors
- Mood swings
- Fuzzy thinking
Many people also experience trouble sleeping while going through alcohol detox. You may also experience certain physical side effects as well, including the following:
- Faster breathing
- Fast heart rate and high blood pressure
- Shaking of the hands
- Dilated pupils
- Elevated body temperature or fever
Detox must be done under a doctor’s supervision. If your alcohol addiction is more on the mild side, you may be able to go through treatment at home, but it’s best to be in a treatment facility where you can be safely monitored.
Medications Used to Treat Alcohol Withdrawal
If high blood pressure is a problem due to your alcohol withdrawal, a doctor might prescribe a beta-blocker to help lower it to normal levels. You will also be assessed to determine the appropriate medication to help ease your symptoms of withdrawal. Moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal often results in the use of Benzodiazepines to reduce the risk of seizures. Neuroleptic medications can be administered to suppress seizures and agitation. You might also be given certain nutrients to replenish those lost due to your alcohol abuse.
After detox, drugs like naltrexone or disulfiram can be prescribed to help reduce your cravings for alcohol. These medications can also help you maintain your newfound sobriety.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline After Detox
After you have gone through the detox process for your alcohol use disorder, you can expect to have withdrawal symptoms a few hours later. This is especially true if you’ve been a heavy drinker for several years. However, no two people are the same, so your symptoms can be milder or more severe based on certain factors. Withdrawal after detox usually peaks at around 48 to 72 hours after your last drink and lasts around seven to 10 days. In some cases, symptoms can last up to two weeks.
Stage one alcohol withdrawal involves headaches, stomach pain, nausea, anxiety and insomnia. This stage occurs within the first six to 12 hours after detox. Some people also find it difficult to eat.
At stage two, which occurs 12 to 48 hours after detox, symptoms like seizures and hallucinations begin.
Stage three alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin 48 to 72 hours after detox. They can include high blood pressure, faster heart rate, confusion, sweating, fever and other side effects that can be serious and even life-threatening.
By stage four, your withdrawal symptoms begin to ease and improve after 72 hours and beyond into the next few days.
Ready to get help? Call us today at 833.970.2054 to get started with the right treatment facility.