Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: How Quickly Do Symptoms Start?

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

When a person comes to a doctor’s office, two things will point toward a diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal: the first is long-term alcohol use with sudden cessation, and the second being symptoms typical of withdrawal (these will be explained in the following paragraphs). For the symptoms, physicians use a largely accepted algorithm known as the CIWA-Ar (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment) protocol. This survey takes a snapshot of a patient to determine how severe their withdrawal is at a point in time during their visit.

What doctors look for when determining severity of alcohol withdrawal: The categories assessed by the patient include nausea and vomiting, tremor (often in the hands), auditory, tactile or visual hallucinations, sweats, anxiety, headache, agitation, and disorientation. Additionally, the doctor will measure heart rate, blood pressure, and do a physical exam. Each category is measured out of 7 points, with 7 being the worst (the exception to this is disorientation, which is measured out of 4 points). The maximum score in the assessment is a 67, with patients under 10 usually being safe without medication, and with any number over 20 being considered severe withdrawal. However, this scale is meant to determine the severity of withdrawal, and is not as helpful in laying out a timeline of when these symptoms will present. For that, it is more helpful to understand the body’s reaction to the cessation of alcohol use.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal – Treatment, Causes, Timeline & Dangers

Alcohol withdrawal treatment causes timeline dangers

When you make the decision to stop drinking, either gradually or suddenly, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. While the exact symptoms of withdrawal will be different depending on the severity and longevity of addiction, there are some commonalities for withdrawal. Understanding the symptoms of withdrawal can help you prepare for the journey ahead. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawals and what to expect during the process.

What causes alcohol withdrawal?

Prolonged use of alcohol or alcohol abuse alters the brain’s chemistry. When copious amounts of alcohol are present or alcohol is used in high volumes, the body has to adapt. The mind adjusts to a new “normal” state with alcohol present. Once alcohol is removed, the body has to readjust to a new state of normal.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol?

Alcohol Detox Timeline

When a person decides to stop drinking, they are likely to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The detox process for alcohol can take several days or several weeks, depending on multiple individual factors. Alcohol detox will be different for everybody, but there are some common symptoms to expect during this time. Keep reading to learn more about the timeline for alcohol detox and treatment options for those with an alcohol use disorder.

What is alcohol detox?

Alcohol detox is an important step in treating an alcohol use disorder. The process involves flushing alcohol from the body completely and results in withdrawal symptoms. When someone’s body becomes dependent on alcohol over time, they develop alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. Because your body is receiving chemicals from alcohol, your brain stops producing those specific chemicals, causing a dependency.

Making the decision to quit drinking is far from easy, but it is crucial to a person’s health and overall wellbeing. Prolonged alcohol consumption in excessive amounts leads to a buildup of toxins and waste products in the body. Alcohol detox begins the addiction treatment process as the body rids itself of toxins.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Depression?

Alcohol Withdrawal Depression

There isn’t any doubt that people who suffer from an alcohol use disorder feel a lot better after they stop. There are several recovery stories demonstrating how incredible life may feel when someone has placed their addiction to alcohol behind them. That being said, it’s important to note that there’s frequently an extremely difficult phase an alcoholic undergoes before they start to feel better. This occurs directly after cessation, typically within less than one day since their last drink. It’s called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Individuals who’ve only used alcohol for a brief time, or who’ve only consumed small amounts of alcohol, might not experience the most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Some will only suffer a “crash” or a hangover right after intoxication wears off, which they might “sleep off” during the weekend. For the infrequent or limited drinkers that typically only drink for a limited period of time, they may be lucky and have the ability to stop and not undergo the worst of what alcohol withdrawal has to offer.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Headaches?

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Headaches

What Types of Symptoms Often Accompany Alcohol Withdrawals?

While the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary greatly between individuals, there are some common effects that many people experience. Here are some of the more common effects that come with stopping the consumption of alcohol.

Headaches that range from mild to migraine-like
Anxiety that can range from a slight nuisance to all-encompassing
Struggles with getting to sleep or staying asleep
Stomach upset, which may also include diarrhea and/or vomiting
Hallucinations can happen in anyone, but typically happen with those who have consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in their lifetime
Sweating that does not seem to stop even when the person cools off
Mild shakes that can make sitting still difficult

Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin by the time the person hits 24 hours without a drink. In most cases, these symptoms subside within 5-7 days. However, in some of the more serious instances, these effects can go on for much longer. Some patients have actually struggled with some of these symptoms for weeks after their last drink.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Insomnia?

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Insomnia

When cutting alcohol out of your life, it can lead to a wide array of symptoms. Your body becomes dependent on the alcohol over time. Taking that alcohol away means your body is going to have to readjust. Many people struggle with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. That is why going to an alcohol detox facility or rehabilitation facility to stop using or abusing alcohol is so important. If you want to get over an alcohol addiction, we are here to help. Here are some of the most important things to know about alcohol withdrawal.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal a person faces is going to be as unique as the person giving up alcohol. Each person’s journey through alcohol detox will depend on many different factors. These include:

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Nausea?

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Nausea

Withdrawing from alcohol, whether from a night of binge drinking or a longtime addiction, often results in the human body rebelling in a variety of ways. Excessive alcohol intake and long-term alcohol use affect nearly every system in the body. The effects, both psychological and physiological, can range from short-term to long-term and also mild to severe.

Many people have experienced the stereotypical hangover. After a night of excessive drinking, the body makes its displeasure known. These symptoms often appear the next morning but can start the same night as the alcohol intake. A hangover can be felt throughout the whole body with a general sense of fatigue, aches and pains, headache, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity, and a myriad of gastrointestinal problems. More than anything the body needs time to rid itself of the alcohol and to re-hydrate. In cases of extremely excessive alcohol consumption, medical attention and intervention may be required.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Fever?

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Fever

What is fever? Fever is one of the body’s most original defenses against infection or assault. The technical definition, for medical practitioners, defines this as a core body temperature of 100.4-100.9 F, which is about 3 degrees higher than what is considered a normal temperature. Other terms, such as hyperthermia and pyrexia, are also used interchangeably, although the understanding of these two terms does not have any precise definition. However, what is more useful and interesting to understand is what causes a fever and why it is occurring.

What causes fever?

When the body notices a foreign intruder, such as bacteria (known as sepsis), it releases tiny components of the immune system that act on the brain as a signal to increase temperature. This area of the brain is always in direct contact with circulating blood in the body, which renders it capable of performing this form of surveillance.

Sometimes, toxins produced by bacteria can act on this area of the brain directly to trigger this response. This is actually a very fine-tuned evolutionary mechanism, raises temperatures above what bacteria and fungi can survive without harming body cells themselves, as well as allows for key parts of the immune system to become widely circulated. In a fortunate coincidence, antibiotic drugs also work better at these higher temperatures.

Symptoms & Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

The Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol detox can be just as frightening as alcoholism. For those who suffer from severe alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependency, getting sober can seem like an up-hill battle. Alcohol detox is an intense and often uncomfortable process, and withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. However, making the decision to stop drinking is a great first step towards recovery.

While alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, it is possible to safely detox from alcohol. The timeline and symptoms of alcohol detox vary by individual, but there are three common stages. Detoxing from alcohol in a medically-supervised environment can be a safe and effective way to get sober and avoid deadly withdrawal symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about the stages of alcohol detox and how to safely maneuver through alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Alcohol Tremors “The Shakes”: Fast Facts, Causes and Treatment

Alcohol Shakes (Tremors) Fast Facts - Causes and Treatment

In moderation, alcohol can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Government guidelines define moderate alcohol consumption as one daily alcoholic beverage for women, and up to two drinks per day for men. Excessive alcohol use, on the other hand, can become problematic and lead to an alcohol addiction, which professionals call an alcohol use disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, (DSM-5) describes the signs of an alcohol use disorder. These include symptoms such as cravings for alcohol, difficulty cutting down on drinking, and continuing to drink, even when it causes problems with work or family. Another sign of an alcohol use disorder is experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when alcohol begins to leave the body. One such withdrawal symptom is tremors, or “the shakes.”

Here’s Why Alcohol Withdrawal Can Be Deadly

Alcohol Withdrawal can be Deadly

There is a lot of information circulating about alcohol detox and withdrawal symptoms. The jumble of details can be confusing for those dealing with an alcohol use disorder and their loved ones. Alcohol abuse is dangerous, damages the body, and impacts a person’s entire life. Detoxing from alcohol is a necessary first step towards recovery and sobriety. However, alcohol detox can also lead to withdrawal. For the most part, alcohol withdrawal is uncomfortable and difficult, but not deadly. There is no way for someone to know how their body will handle alcohol detox unless they consult a doctor, though. Some people with alcohol use disorders are at a higher risk for delirium tremens and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. With proper care and medically-supervised treatment, the effects of alcohol withdrawal can be minimized in a safe environment. Keep reading to learn why alcohol withdrawal can be deadly and how to safely detox from alcohol.

What is Alcohol and Drug Detox?

Alcohol and Drug Detox

A substance use disorder is a clinical term used to describe addiction to drugs or alcohol. According to guidelines set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, withdrawal is one of the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder. Withdrawal, which occurs when people with addictions stop using drugs or alcohol, involves unpleasant symptoms as a result of the substance of abuse no longer being active in the body.

When a person enters withdrawal, he or she may experience painful symptoms, making it difficult to permanently stop using the substance of abuse. In fact, people may return to drug or alcohol use to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In cases where a person wants to stop using drugs and/or alcohol but withdrawal symptoms are making the process more challenging, an alcohol and drug detox program may be necessary to manage symptoms and begin the journey toward lasting recovery. Detox programs can also provide life-saving medical treatment in cases where withdrawal becomes dangerous.