08 Apr How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long detox will take when someone stops drinking. A number of factors play a part in determining the length of alcohol detox as well as the type and severity of withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Alcohol Detox?
An estimated 18 million Americans are currently living with alcoholism, but only a small percentage of them will seek professional help. Treatment may seem daunting, as it will begin with a detox period in which an addict will abstain from alcohol and experience various uncomfortable symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
It’s normal for a person ready to embark on the difficult path of sobriety to feel anxious about what to expect and how long it will take to complete alcohol detox.
How Long Does Alcohol Detox Usually Take?
The detox process typically takes between seven and ten days. However, most rehab programs usually last a minimum of thirty to forty-five days. The length of time it takes to detox depends on the severity of a person’s alcoholism, their history of alcohol addiction, and their physical, mental, and emotional needs. The length of the stages of detox can vary among different people.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Detox?
People going through detox from alcohol may only experience mild symptoms such as headaches or nausea. However, some people will experience severe delirium tremens in the form of seizures or hallucinations.
When a person is detoxing from alcohol without another drug addiction, withdrawal will consist of three relatively distinct phases. Acute withdrawal is the first stage, which is dominated by tremors, seizures, and hyperactivity of the nervous system. This period usually lasts for the first 48 hours after discontinued consumption and will peak around 24 hours. Physiological symptoms typically experienced during acute alcohol withdrawal can include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, excessive sweating, irregular body temperature, nausea, or vomiting.
During the second phase of early abstinence, anxiety, mood swings, and disrupted sleep patterns will be prominent. Elevated anxiety commonly resolves within three to six weeks after a person stops drinking alcohol. Women usually take slightly longer than men to get through this phase.
Protracted abstinence is the final phase of alcohol detox. During this stage, elevated anxiety and physiological discomfort are prevalent, which can increase cravings of alcohol and put someone at the risk of relapse.
The psychological discomfort associated with anxiety during detoxification can be overwhelming even if most of the other symptoms have subsided. This can play a significant role in increasing the risk of relapse.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism?
Long-term addiction to alcohol can take a great toll on a person’s body. Alcohol consumption affects the heart and can cause an irregular heartbeat, stroke, or high blood pressure. However, liver damage is the most prominent side effect, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
Alcohol can weaken the immune system, making people more prone to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Excessive drinking also increases the risk of oral, throat, liver, and breast cancer. Additionally, alcoholics typically have a poor appetite and as a result, consume a nutritionally-deficient diet.
In order to achieve long-term sobriety, both the emotional and physical aspects of an addiction must be addressed. Once the initial period of detox is complete, the rehab process can begin. In order to overcome alcoholism, a person must heal emotionally, which will require outside support in the form of education and therapy.
Rehab will address the various causes of excessive drinking as well as the physical and psychological effects of alcohol abuse. It’s important to figure out what situations spark the urge to drink and come up with alternative, healthy ways of coping when these triggers arise.
How Can a Relapse Be Prevented?
When a person is discharged from detox, they are still at risk of relapse and are very vulnerable to falling back to old habits. Detoxification can increase the risk of an overdose fatality if someone is not properly transitioned to an appropriate alcohol and drug treatment program after being discharged.
Although there is no cure yet for alcoholism, there are many evidence-based treatment methods that have been shown to be effective. The biggest challenge is figuring out the best treatment plan for an individual. Just as no two people will have the same experience with detox, no two patients should undergo the exact same treatment plan.