Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline and Treatment

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

August 23, 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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Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • DTs (delirium tremens)
  • Seizures

Alcohol withdrawal can be a potentially dangerous condition, and medical supervision or professional treatment may be necessary to manage the symptoms safely.

This guide addresses the following issues:

  • What is the alcohol detox timeframe?
  • Alcohol detox symptoms timeline.
  • Is the alcohol detox timeline the same for everyone?
  • What factors impact alcohol detox time?
  • Alcohol withdrawal recovery: how to connect with care in Southern California.
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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.

Alcohol Withdrawal FAQs

What happens in a week if you stop drinking?

In the first week of quitting drinking, you may experience various symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, such as headaches, tremors, gastrointestinal discomfort, and mood swings.

How many days after quitting drinking do you feel it?

After quitting drinking, symptoms typically begin to manifest within a few hours and can persist for approximately one week. It is during this time frame that individuals may experience various withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol cessation.

What happens to your body after 4 days of not drinking?

After four days of not drinking, your body starts to undergo physical and psychological changes. Physical symptoms like tremors and headaches may begin to subside, while psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia may persist or intensify.

Is 24-hour alcohol detox safe?

No, you should avoid abruptly quitting alcohol in an attempt to shortcut the withdrawal process.

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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.

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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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