Alcohol detox is often a necessary first step for people facing alcohol use disorder (AUD) in order to make it through difficult withdrawal symptoms and begin addiction treatment.
How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?
Detox programs for alcohol abuse usually last from two to 10 days.
How long the program will last often depends on the severity of the person’s AUD, with people with more severe alcohol addictions requiring longer medical monitoring.
Once alcohol dependence is treated through detoxification, people facing alcohol abuse will require inpatient or outpatient treatment to address the root causes of their addiction and maintain lasting sobriety.
What Is The Alcohol Detox Timeline?
Alcohol withdrawal follows a general timeline that includes when symptoms begin, when they peak, and how long they last.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually begin between six and 24 hours after the person’s last drink. Symptoms often get increasingly uncomfortable until they peak at some point between 36 and 72 hours into the process.
From here, they slowly subside over the next several days. This timeline may vary depending on factors such as the level of your alcohol consumption before you stopped drinking and your overall health.
Alcohol Detox Medications
Medical professionals monitoring a detox program may use a variety of medications to meet clients’ needs at specific points in the withdrawal timeline.
These medications may include:
- anticonvulsants such as gabapentin
Medications are usually given to control agitation, seizures, or tremors. Care providers may also give a client naltrexone, which also helps prevent relapse by reducing alcohol cravings.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe and can even be life-threatening for some people with severe AUD.
Medical detox programs include the medical supervision of clients for changes in withdrawal symptoms, providing care and support as needed to maximize comfort, safety, and success.
Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- mood swings
- hand tremors
- rapid heart rate
- high blood pressure
People who have a heavy alcohol intake over a long period of time may experience more severe symptoms over a longer period of time. This is sometimes referred to as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS).
These symptoms may include delirium tremens and serious mental health symptoms due to the effect that alcohol has on the central nervous system.
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- delirium tremens (DTs)
- increase in body temperature
- fluctuations in blood pressure
Length Of Alcohol Treatment
While the time frame for the alcohol detox process is a matter of days, an alcohol rehab program will last much longer.
Treatment programs that address alcohol use disorder and other forms of substance use disorder can last anywhere from 30 days to a year.
Not all of these programs require clients to live on site, such as residential and inpatient programs do. However, they all will likely include behavioral therapy, peer recovery groups, and other support for long-term recovery.
Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Are you or a loved one facing a substance use disorder? You can find treatment today. Call us to learn about your treatment options, the recovery process, and how to get started.Article Sources
- British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology - Pharmacological strategies for detoxification
- National Center for Biotechnology Information - Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alcohol Withdrawal