Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

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When you or your loved one is ready to stop drinking and get professional help at a drug rehab, it’s normal to have plenty of questions about how alcohol detox works. Is alcohol withdrawal painful, and can detox relieve withdrawal symptoms? How long does alcohol detox last?

Here’s how alcohol detox and withdrawal works, and what you can do next to get professional help and safely recover from alcohol abuse, dependence, and addiction.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the term used to describe a set of symptoms that occur when a person who drinks alcohol on a regular basis suddenly stops drinking. The severity of alcohol withdrawal increases the longer a person has been drinking, especially for those who drink high amounts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 6 to 24 hours after the last drink, and are most severe after about 36 to 72 hours. Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere between 2 and 10 days depending on factors such as metabolism, weight, and whether the person has other medical problems or is using any other substances.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nightmares and insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Mental cloudiness
  • Dehydration

Severe alcohol withdrawal may also include the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion (delirium)

Severe alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens, which is an extremely dangerous complication of alcohol withdrawal that may lead to death. StatPearls reports that among those who experience alcohol withdrawal, 3% to 5% will experience delirium tremens. However, withdrawing from alcohol at an alcohol detox center is the safest and most effective way to reduce the risk for delirium tremens.

Do You or a Loved One Need Treatment for Alcohol Abuse?

Avoid dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms with professional on-site medical assistance at Dana Point Rehab where we provide unique customized detox and treatment programs for all types of drug and alcohol addictions around the clock.

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What Is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is a treatment that manages the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. This treatment takes place in a safe, therapeutic inpatient rehab environment where patients can be cared for, monitored, and supervised as they go through withdrawal. Patients are supplied with plenty of water to help with detox and to stay hydrated, and may be given nutritional supplements to strengthen the immune system and prevent cognitive impairments associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Patients with moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome may be given medications that reduce and relieve symptoms. The sedative diazepam is normally used in alcohol detox to help prevent seizures and stabilize patients with moderate to severe symptoms. After the withdrawal has ended, patients transition to alcohol rehab where they can receive treatment to overcome alcohol addiction.

What Is Alcohol Rehab, and Does Everyone Need it?

Alcohol rehab uses counseling, behavioral therapy, and other psychosocial interventions to help people stop drinking and stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol. Patients receive drug education that teaches them how to refuse alcohol in social settings, how to relax and effectively manage stress, and how to cope with triggers after their rehab programs have ended. Many rehab programs also use cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients change harmful attitudes and behaviors surrounding alcohol use so they can achieve long-term sobriety.

Alcohol detox is only one stage of recovery from alcohol addiction that treats physical dependence on alcohol; however, alcohol rehab is needed to teach patients how to live healthier, functional lifestyles without resorting to alcohol for stress relief and recreation. Without alcohol rehab, many patients fall back into their old drinking and coping habits within weeks or months of finishing alcohol detox.

Alcohol Detox With America’s Rehab Campuses

Dana Point Rehab Campus offers detox and inpatient residential rehab programs for people who need help fighting and recovering from alcohol addiction. Contact us today at 888-509-1560 to learn more about our many alcohol and drug rehab programs that can be customized to help you or your loved one experience a safe, long-term recovery from addiction.