All addictive substances condition the body to expect continued use of a drug and produce unpleasant symptoms if use is abruptly stopped. This is known as withdrawal. Defined by the American Psychological Association, withdrawal is a syndrome that develops after cessation of prolonged, heavy consumption of a substance, with symptoms varying by substance but generally including physiological, behavioral, and cognitive manifestations. 

Withdrawal symptoms differ based on the substance of abuse, with some manifesting mild withdrawal symptoms while others yield painful and dangerous symptoms. Regardless of the substance that has been abused, withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, which is why it is highly recommended to seek a professional detox clinic to assist in the process. Clinicians at these facilities will monitor the withdrawal process and ensure the individual feels safe and comfortable. 

How Long Does it Take to Withdraw From Alcohol?

Being a legal and easily accessible substance, alcohol is the most common substance of abuse in the United States and worldwide. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.5 million Americans suffered from an Alcohol Use Disorder in 2019 alone. Although possibly aware of their alcohol disorder, many individuals continue drinking due to the addiction that has taken root and to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This raises the question – how long does it take to completely withdraw from alcohol?

 The answer depends on the length of addiction. Those who have only struggled with alcoholism for a short time will have a significantly shorter withdrawal period and display mild symptoms. In contrast, heavy drinkers who have struggled with alcohol abuse for an extended amount of time will endure a longer withdrawal stage with far more uncomfortable symptoms. The alcohol withdrawal window ranges from one week to one month (rare), depending on the length of addiction.   

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 

Similar to the length of withdrawal, symptoms of withdrawal also vary based on the length of addiction. For the average individual, symptoms begin to dissipate after the first week and are more mild in nature. For lifelong drinkers, symptoms can last up to a month, although it is rare, and are much more unpleasant. Despite the variations, the first few days of withdrawal are the most uncomfortable for both short and long-term alcoholics. 

Withdrawal Symptoms for Alcohol can be divided in hours and days:

6 hours after last drink the user experiences:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety 
  • Nausea or vomiting

1-2 days after last drink the user may experience: 

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

2-3 days after last drink the user may experience:

  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Delirium Tremens (only 3-5% experience this)

After the first few days, withdrawal symptoms should gradually lessen. Due to the severity of some of these symptoms and the potential for life-threatening seizures, clinical supervision within a professional detox facility is highly recommended. 

Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

It is extremely important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction or withdrawal. The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone.

While we do not have a detox facility, we can refer you to a quality clinic where experts can supervise your withdrawal phase. Upon successfully completing the detox process, we will work with you to formulate a custom treatment plan designed to fit your individual needs. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.

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