Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol is the single most abused substance on the planet. Due to its legality, many people use and abuse alcohol without a second thought. But what’s important to realize about alcohol is, despite it being legal, that it is still a drug and can be highly addictive. Alcoholism impacts people worldwide. Alcohol is also ingrained in many cultures throughout the world, most particularly the United States.

Drinking culture dominates the media and pop culture, and binge drinking and alcohol addiction is on the rise.

Alcohol is also one of the only drugs whose withdrawal process can actually be fatal, so understanding and recognizing alcohol addiction is important to detox safely.  Undertaking the difficult process of alcohol withdrawal may difficult, but is definitely not impossible.



What Are the Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

During the alcohol withdrawal process, a number of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms will be experienced. Alcohol withdrawals occur if you have engaged in drinking large quantities of alcohol over the course of weeks, months, or years at a time. These alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary in frequency and severity depending on the length of time spent abusing alcohol as well as the quantity of alcohol that was being abused.

Consistent alcohol consumption results in full-blown alcohol addiction, even if you don’t realize that you are drinking alcoholically. Because the alcohol withdrawal symptoms can prove to be fatal, identifying the symptoms can be the difference between life and death.

Some of the symptoms you may expect to experience are:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky Hands
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Racing Heart
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Seizures

What Are the Stages of the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

If you begin the detox process, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin to appear as soon as six hours after your last drink! With such a small window of time, it’s important to seek medical care right away for your alcohol addiction. Much like other detox processes, apart from the potentially life-threatening symptoms, it can be very uncomfortable. Luckily, alcohol withdrawals last a shorter amount of time than for other substances, but again, due to the volatile nature, should not be taken lightly.

Home Detox

During this time, you should expect to experience more mild symptoms. Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and vomiting are common symptoms felt during this time frame, and may last throughout the duration of the detox.

At about 24 to 72 hours following the final drink, more severe symptoms will begin to manifest. A heightened body temperature, high blood pressure, racing heart, and confusion may occur.

These symptoms may vary in severity, but should not be taken lightly as they are precursors to more intense withdrawal symptoms to come.

After 72 hours, the final set of withdrawal symptoms will arrive and last for the remainder of the 5 to 7 day period. During this time, you may experience hallucinations, seizures, agitation, and fevers.

Over the remaining few days, symptoms will begin to decrease, until eventually subsiding altogether by the end of day seven following the final drink. While the detox process itself if relatively short-lived in comparison to other substances, the severity of these symptoms may prove to be too much for the body to handle and may result in permanent damage or even death!

Why Should I Detox?

Since alcohol is one of the few detox processes that may result in long-term damage as well as even prove to be potentially life-threatening, detoxing in a medical detox facility is always advised. Detoxing yourself will not only be uncomfortable, but dangerous.

By attending a medical detox facility, you’ll have access to a team of medical professionals there to monitor you 24/7. They’ll keep track of your vitals as well as provide a variety of prescription detox medications designed to prevent more severe life-threatening detox symptoms as well as decrease the discomfort experienced during the whole process.

Without worry of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and the potentially painful physical withdrawals, you can focus your attention and energy on the recovery portion

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What is the Next Treatment Step?

Taking the first step and going to alcohol addiction treatment is important. What’s more is always ensuring that you follow the full continuum of care when you do. The full continuum of care refers to following through each different level of care associated with alcohol addiction treatment from detox to outpatient. Each level lowers in intensity of clinical intervention and allows clients to slowly regain their personal freedoms and responsibilities back without rushing them back into a situation where they may relapse. It is perfectly aligned to slowly progress them to a point where they can assimilate into the community at large with a solid foundation in recovery.


If you have been struggling with alcohol addiction and have made the decision to seek treatment, the first step on your journey to recovery is to attend a medical detox facility! As stated above, here you will be assessed and monitored by a team of medical professionals. They will not only oversee your physical well-being during your stay but intervene should any life-threatening withdrawal symptoms appear.

While at the medical detox facility, apart from the surveillance provided by the medical team, access to psychiatric support will also be provided. In addition to the medical staff, therapists and other psychiatric support staff will be available to you 24/7 to help you overcome the mental symptoms and start therapeutic treatment meant to help uncover the underlying causes for your alcohol addiction.


After completing the medical detox program, you will then go to an inpatient residential treatment facility. Here, more emphasis will be placed on the therapeutic aspect of treatment. You will undergo intensive full-time therapy to help you work through issues and the emotional aspect of alcohol addiction treatment. Typical stays are anywhere from 30 to 45 days, but can be longer or shorter depending on your individual needs.

While here, you’ll learn different coping mechanisms and life skills that can help you later in recovery. You’ll be exposed to a variety of therapy and treatment methods designed to help you get to the root of your alcoholism and subsequent emotional issues.

You’ll live onsite at the facility with other recovering addicts and alcoholics. Together, you’ll stick to a strict schedule designed to foster an environment of recovery that will keep you focused on the task at hand. Having the separation from the community at large can help keep an atmosphere of recovery free of outside distractions and triggers.


Following an inpatient treatment program, admittance to an intensive outpatient program (IOP) program is highly recommended. It is   therapy that takes place while you live either in a recovery house or at your own home. It provides a buffer between fulling assimilating into everyday life by providing continued therapeutic support and accountability to your continued sobriety, even after treatment ends.

IOP is only part-time, but still requires fairly frequent attendance. IOP programs also require clients to continually submit drug tests so as to keep their patients on track. It helps allow the clients to have some freedom and responsibilities, but to make sure that emphasis is still being placed on recovery and complete sobriety is being maintained.


Outpatient is the final level of the full continuum of care. At this stage, you’ll be well passed your alcohol withdrawal and into the final aspect of the alcohol addiction treatment. Recovery is a never-ending process that requires constant effort and vigilance, which is why outpatient is a great addition to the full continuum of care.

Outpatient typically takes place on an even less frequent basis than IOP. It is usually only one hour per week. However, that single hour still provides access to therapeutic and clinical support and clients still must engage in drug testing. This helps carry them through the final phase of alcohol addiction treatment and keep them on the right track as they learn to be self-sufficient in recovery.

By engaging in the entire treatment continuum, you not only avoid running into issues during the withdrawal process, but greatly increase the success rate in your recovery. Continuing through all levels of treatment will help safeguard you against the ever-present potential relapse and keep you on track toward personal growth. If life-long recovery is your goal, participating in all aspects of treatment is your best bet for long-term sobriety.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today


If you or someone you love is currently struggling with addiction to alcohol, Arete Recovery can help! By calling us now at (855) 781-9939, you will be connected to addiction professionals who are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and get you connected to the help you need and deserve! Don’t delay; call now and start your journey to recovery today!