How Long Does It Take To Medically Detox From Alcohol?
When your body becomes too used to the presence of alcohol, usually as a result of excessive drinking, it can be hard for it to normalize again. Alcohol detox is a term that is used frequently, but what do we actually mean when we say this?
Essentially, it is the process by which your body removes all traces of alcohol. While it can be an unpleasant process, it can be worsened if you consume large amounts of alcohol, or over a long period of time. In extreme cases, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. It often happens as a result of alcohol addiction and abuse, an increasingly common phenomenon here in the United States.
In this article, we will discuss why withdrawal happens, its symptoms, and what you can expect from the alcohol withdrawal timeline. Most importantly, we will explain what you can do to find help here at Ebb Tide through our specialized alcohol withdrawal treatment.
People can find sometimes themselves in a situation where medical detox is the only safe release from their alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. At Ebb Tide Treatment Centers we can help you through this detox process in a safe manner.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Body
Alcohol consumption has a pervasive effect on our society. It is one of the most widely used substances and is seen across many cultures and eras. Despite the inherent risks associated with its use, its consumption has become largely normalized. It is consumed to such a degree that alcohol addiction is a phenomenon that is often overlooked, and people sometimes overlook how harmful it can be.
This tendency towards addiction can spiral into a substance abuse disorder that can bring about alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can be hard to deal with by yourself, especially if your alcohol misuse has led to you being isolated socially from your friends and family.
When we talk about alcohol, we are actually talking about a chemical substance called ethanol. Ethanol is a central nervous system depressant. It is a multifaceted substance; when taken in small doses it has a stimulatory effect on our brain chemistry. If these doses are exceeded, then the depressant effects of ethanol become more visible, resulting in slowed motor reactions, slurred speech, nausea, and possible alcohol overdose.
People usually look to experience the initial effects, overlooking that alcohol will eventually result in these later, more undesirable effects. This puts your body at risk of the damaging effects of alcohol withdrawal. If you experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms it can put even more stress on you to continue drinking, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol cravings are something that can be hard to resist, even if you are informed about its risks. Luckily, there exists a tried and tested treatment process to help people who face them.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
If you find yourself experiencing certain uncontrollable feelings or exhibiting actions related to drinking, then it may be time to seek help in order to manage future withdrawal symptoms. These can include:
- Drinking more, or longer, than you intended
- Struggling unsuccessfully to cut down on your drinking
- Being sick often due to drinking
- Obsessing over your next drink
- Engaging in reckless behavior due to your drinking habits
- Having alcohol damage your interpersonal relationships
AUD in the United States
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a growing problem in the United States and one that affects many people. Aside from its physical consequences, including liver damage and increased probability of cancer, it can exact a heavy toll on your mental health. This is exacerbated if you engage in binge drinking.
Almost 16 million Americans suffer from alcohol addiction, and it is the third leading cause of death. Fortunately, these dangers are preventable. Specialized treatment centers can help you overcome your alcohol misuse and help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Excessive alcohol use can result in a trip to a hospital, and certain symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as delirium tremens, can sometimes be life-threatening. This can be avoided with medical supervision. Research has found that almost 40% of cases in emergency wards in hospitals around the country are a result of excessive alcohol use.
Why and How Does Alcohol Withdrawal Happen?
Alcohol withdrawal is the natural result of excessive alcohol abuse. Once your body becomes too used to alcohol, it starts to struggle to operate normally without it. This prompts your nervous system to go into an excitable state that affects your body’s normal functioning. The consequences of this can emerge as relatively mild symptoms or as more severe withdrawal symptoms depending on a number of factors related to your drinking habits.
Alcohol Detox Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can kick in within six hours of your last drink. So as soon as you start drinking, you can be at risk of experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms as part of your detox process.
Depending on your individual physical characteristics, how long you have been physically addicted to alcohol, and how much alcohol you have been ingesting there is a chance that more acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms emerge over the next day or two. If your alcohol misuse has been excessive, there is a high likelihood that the alcohol withdrawal syndrome you experience will be longer.
A severe form of withdrawal could possibly result in delirium tremens which can make you sweat, shake, and hallucinate. It is the worst symptom of severe alcohol withdrawal and one that can be fatal. Therefore, cases of alcohol withdrawal should be ordered by the severity of their symptoms, rather than the time since their last drink.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal can present itself with a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. The time it might take to detox depends on the symptoms. We will discuss them all here, so as to show how they can be a sign to start seeking addiction treatment that can help you deal with your alcohol detox.
Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms
When you start your alcohol detox, the studies we have covered show that you will start feeling mild symptoms within an average period of six hours after the last drink. These symptoms can include:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disturbances
- Stomach problems
- Elevated heart rate
For people who have a milder form of alcohol use disorder, it is possible that these symptoms go away after a maximum of 48 hours. However, if your alcohol addiction is more extreme, then it is likely you will progress to the next stage.
Moderate withdrawal symptoms
At this stage, you will start to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. They include:
- Alcohol withdrawal seizures (also known as rum fits)
If your alcohol detox has reached a point where you begin experiencing these symptoms, then there is a chance you will start to experience severe alcohol withdrawal in the coming days.
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Despite alcohol’s fairly widespread social acceptance, severe alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. This is mainly as a result of delirium tremens which are among the most severe symptoms, if not the most severe. If you come to this stage in your withdrawal symptoms you will experience:
- Possible death
These severe symptoms can last longer than a week as you continue to detox from alcohol. It is the most difficult part of the alcohol withdrawal process and is the reason so many people afflicted with an alcohol use disorder end up in emergency wards of hospitals.
If you experience withdrawal symptoms of this type, then it is time to choose for medical detox administered by medical professionals that can reduce your adverse health reactions and help you stop drinking alcohol.
What is Medical Detox?
A medically assisted detox from alcohol is one that is performed with the involvement of trained professionals in a specifically equipped facility. Rather than dealing with the dangerous and severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by yourself, it is highly recommended that patients opt for medical detox. This is usually aided by alcohol addiction treatment to help someone stop drinking alcohol, as well as access to mental health services to deal with any underlying problems. It can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on your individual needs. This can help you deal with any remaining alcohol withdrawal, both physically and mentally.
Medical detox is extremely useful for extreme cases of alcohol abuse and can ward off the more serious consequences of symptoms such as withdrawal delirium. They can even help with milder symptoms can that can have wide-ranging impacts such as high blood pressure.
What Might the Detox Process Look Like?
This course of treatment is usually composed of three strategies, depending on your progress on the alcohol detox timeline. The first of these is the administration of benzodiazepines, which have the largest base of evidence in terms of successfully treating those who experience withdrawal symptoms.
Drugs such as diazepam have proven to be very effective in reducing the severity of symptoms, as well as being able to prevent seizures that result from the detox process. They should always be administered by medical professionals.
Secondly, anti-convulsant medications are also encouraged so as to reduce tremors and seizures along with benzodiazepines, especially if you have a history of seizures unrelated to alcohol consumption. Anti-anxiety medications can also be administered to help you deal with the psychological effects of alcohol dependence.
Lastly, many people suffering from a substance abuse disorder such as alcohol addiction will often need nutritional support in order to support and treat alcohol withdrawal. In order to deal with the nutritional deficiencies related to excessive drinking patterns, medical detox and alcohol addiction treatment will make sure that your nutritional balance is correct, which is done by administering the necessary vitamins.
When To Choose Alcohol Detox at Ebb Tide
No one should be forced to deal with the severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by themselves. Luckily, you do not have to deal with your alcohol detox symptoms by yourself with the aid of medical detox.
Here at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers, we specialize in helping people that experience life-threatening symptoms related to drinking overcome them in a safe environment where their every need is taken care of during their healing process.
There is no shame in addiction, it is merely one of the many diseases that can afflict our bodies and minds. Aside from guiding you down the path of medical detox, we can provide addiction treatment that can help to reduce the alcohol cravings you might be experiencing.
Ebb Tide is a fully equipped and professional treatment provider and our staff are trained to help people experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Our detox facilities in Florida also offer a variety of further treatment options, such as individual action therapy and other evidence-based therapies. We believe everyone should have a chance to recover because everyone means something to someone else. If you have had your last drink, and you are ready to start healing then get in touch today.