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Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 6, 2023

Table of Contents

Physical and psychological symptoms of an alcohol withdrawal timeline present when someone who is dependent on alcohol abruptly stops or significantly moderates their alcohol intake. 

Alcohol withdrawal is a result of the body and brain adjusting to the absence of a substance to which it is accustomed, which can lead to a range of symptoms that vary in intensity and duration

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Timeline for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal duration depends on various factors, including:

  • Length of alcohol abuse
  • The extent of alcohol consumption
  • Presence of co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Physical health condition
  • Use of other addictive substances

The stages of alcohol withdrawal timeline are as follows:

  1. Mild alcohol withdrawal: Symptoms may include headaches, anxiety, insomnia, tremors, gastrointestinal disturbances, or heart palpitations.
  2. Moderate alcohol withdrawal: Symptoms may include the above symptoms as well as confusion, increased blood pressure and heart rate, hyperthermia, and abnormally fast breathing.
  3. Severe alcohol withdrawal: Symptoms may include the above symptoms as well as hallucinations, disorientation, impaired attention, and seizures.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary in duration and severity depending on the individual and their level of alcohol dependency.

Here is a comprehensive alcohol withdrawal timeline, including the typical symptoms experienced during the first one to two weeks of withdrawal, as well as ongoing symptoms that may persist beyond that period. A typical alcohol detox timeline begins within a few hours of the last alcoholic beverage.

Days 1 to 3

Alcohol withdrawal onset involves the presentation of these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Mild to moderate anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite

Days 3 to 4

The peak of alcohol withdrawal symptoms includes:

  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Worsening anxiety
  • Increased tremors
  • Confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or tactile)
  • Delirium tremens (DTs) may develop in severe cases, characterized by severe confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, seizures, and high fever

Days 5 to 7

Symptoms may begin to taper off in intensity. The following symptoms may persist:

  • Continued anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Lingering physical discomfort, such as headaches and body aches

Days 8 to 14

  • Gradual improvement in most symptoms
  • Emotional instability and mood swings
  • Persistent cravings for alcohol
  • Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleepiness

Day 14 and beyond

  • Symptoms gradually subside, but some may persist for months or longer
  • Cravings for alcohol may persist and require ongoing management
  • Mood swings, anxiety, and depression may continue
  • Sleep disturbances and fatigue can persist
  • Cognitive impairments, such as memory and attention problems, may take longer to resolve

Alcohol withdrawal can be potentially dangerous, especially in severe cases. Seek medical attention for evaluation, monitoring, and medication-assisted treatment to make sure that alcohol withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible.

woman with her hand on her face representing alcohol withdrawal timeline symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline Symptoms

While the alcohol withdrawal timeline symptoms can vary in intensity and duration for everyone, there is a typical pattern that these symptoms appear in. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety: Feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and unease.
  • Tremors: Shaking or trembling of the hands, arms, or other body parts.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Stomach discomfort, often leading to vomiting.
  • Sweating: Profuse sweating, especially at night.
  • Rapid Heart Rate: An increased heart rate (tachycardia).
  • High Blood Pressure: Elevated blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Irritability: Easily becoming annoyed or agitated.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Headaches: Persistent headaches or migraines.
  • Loss of Appetite: A reduced desire to eat.
  • Clammy Skin: Skin feeling cold and damp.
  • Hallucinations: Visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations, which can be especially severe in some cases.
  • Seizures: Alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures in severe cases, which are a medical emergency.
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs): A severe and potentially life-threatening condition characterized by severe confusion, hallucinations, fever, seizures, and agitation.
  • Depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair.
  • Mood Swings: Emotional instability, including irritability and rapid shifts in mood.
  • Cravings: Strong urges to drink alcohol.

It should be noted that the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal timeline should be tended to in a medically supervised facility in cases of moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be deadly if not properly treated, and should never be attempted at home.

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Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

At Renaissance Recovery Center in Southern California, we specialize in providing comprehensive outpatient treatment for various addictions and mental health conditions, including alcohol withdrawal.

If you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal, we can assist you by referring you to reputable detoxification centers in Southern California. These centers offer specialized medical care and support to manage the symptoms and ensure your safety during the withdrawal process.

Once you have successfully completed detoxification, our treatment programs offer a combination of evidence-based interventions to address addiction. Our approach includes MAT (medication-assisted treatment) to help manage cravings and minimize withdrawal symptoms, as well as psychotherapy to address the underlying factors contributing to addiction. MAT, when combined with counseling and therapy, has been shown to be effective in supporting individuals on their journey to recovery.

Through our outpatient treatment programs such as our PHPs (partial hospitalization programs), IOPs (intensive outpatient programs), and dual diagnosis treatment programs for co-occurring disorders, you will have access to personalized addiction treatment. This includes engaging group therapy sessions, individual counseling tailored to your specific needs, profound psychotherapy approaches, empowering family therapy sessions, and holistic therapies that promote overall well-being.

Additionally, we provide ongoing aftercare services to support your continued progress and maintain long-term sobriety.

If you are ready to take the first step toward recovery, please reach out to our admissions team at 866.330.9449. They are dedicated to assisting you in finding the right treatment path and guiding you toward a healthier and more fulfilling life.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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