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Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. The feelings elicited when an individual ingests alcohol occur because of the way the substance interacts with one’s neurotransmitters. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism asserts, “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.” Any individual that has habitually abused alcohol has likely developed a tolerance to the substance, which means in order to attain the same physical response from ingesting alcohol, he or she must increase the amount of alcohol consumed. This can have serious effects on how an individual’s body functions both with alcohol in its system and without. Factors that will contribute to an individual’s detox process include an individual’s personal health history, the presence of any co morbid disorders, the amount of alcohol consumed each time, length of time drinking, an individual’s age, and if the individual mixed alcohol with other substances. The higher the tolerance and more dependent upon alcohol an individual is, the greater the individual’s risk is to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms during detox.  

Detox Withdrawal Timeline

The term detox refers to the process of cleansing and ridding one’s body of any abused substances. Although every individual is different and will go through the detox process at a somewhat varied pace, below is a broad timeline that divides the detox process from alcohol into four stages, provided by National Library of Medicine

  • Stage 1: six-twelve hours after one’s last drink: common symptoms may include:
  • Depression.
  • Mood swings.
  • Insomnia.
    • Excessive sweating.
    • Headache.
    • Nausea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Anxiety.
    • Stomach pain.
    • Shakes/ tremors.
  • Stage 2: twelve to twenty-four hours after one’s last drink: common symptoms may include:
    • Hallucinations.
    • Dehydration.
    • Mental confusion.
    • Irritability.
    • Increased blood pressure.
    • Irregular heart rate.
    • Loss of appetite.
  • Stage 3: twenty-four to forty-eight hours after one’s last drink: common symptoms may include:
    • Low blood sugar.
    • Intense mood swings.
    • Grand mal seizures: about four percent of people withdrawing from alcohol experience grand mal seizures.
  • Stage 4: forty-eight hours to seven days after one’s last drink: common symptoms may include:
    • Depression.
    • Restlessness.
    • Confusion.
    • Delirium tremens.
    • General physical discomfort.
    • Symptoms may begin to taper off.

It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms, although likely intense during the detox phase, do not necessarily subside entirely upon completion of the acute detox process. After ten days, any subsequent withdrawal symptoms that occur are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). It is best to undergo detox from alcohol in a supervised setting, to ensure the safety of the individual for the duration of the process. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com