alcohol detox

Alcohol Detox occurs when people develop physical signs of addiction to alcohol and reduces or stops drinking altogether. Alcohol Withdrawal fatalities are rare but possible in the cases of chronic drinkers. Safe options for withdrawal from alcohol are available for individuals who are seeking help to quit drinking. Learning about the process can provide helpful tools, resources and information about how best to facilitate a safe and long lasting detox from alcohol.


Onset of Alcohol Detox

Within 6-24 hours following the last drink or a significant reduction in alcohol consumption, the onset of withdrawal may occur. For some drinkers, withdrawal is short-lived with minor symptoms resolving within five days and no medical intervention necessary. In others, the severity of symptoms increase over the first 48-72 hours. It is during this period when some people relapse to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms which is why it is important to seek support when transitioning away from alcohol.


Symptoms of Alcohol Detox

Acute withdrawal from alcohol can last anywhere from 2-6 days, depending on the individual. The worst symptoms will show up around the 2nd or 3rd day after last drink but varies person to person. Protracted alcohol withdrawal symptoms have been known to occur for some people up to a year. Three major classes of symptoms occur within the body (autonomic, gastrointestinal and cognitive changes). The following are symptoms within each category.


Category I: Autonomic

  • fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius
  • hypertension
  • sweating
  • tremor

Category II: Gastrointestinal

  • anorexia
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Category III: Cognitive

  • anxiety
  • disturbed sleep or vivid dreams
  • poor concentration
  • psychomotor changes


Some of the more severe detox symptoms for heavy or long term, chronic drinkers may include:

  • dehydration
  • delirium (occurring 48-96 hours after last drink, may take up to seven days to appear)
  • hallucinations or visual, tactile and auditory disruptions
  • seizures (occurring 6-48 hours after last drink)


Alcohol Detox Side Effects

A withdrawal setting should be selected based on an individual’s needs. An individual attempting to withdraw entirely from alcohol is vulnerable to psychological stress. Treatment which takes place in a non-stimulating, non-threatening environment is most effective. When seeking support for detox, consider whether the person is using other drugs (opiates, benzodiazepines or others) or has any lingering psychiatric conditions which may require hospital admission and medical clearance. The person who is considering detox should carefully assess preferences, availability of resources and desire to seek treatment at a location which is most suitable for long term needs.


Hired Power offers safe passage transports and recovery assistants to support your journey to sobriety. If you are looking for help to to quit drinking, call us at 800-910-9299 for more information about how we can help guide you through the process.

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