Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: How Quickly Do Symptoms Start?

When a person comes to a doctor’s office, two things will point toward a diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal: the first is long-term alcohol use with sudden cessation, and the second being symptoms typical of withdrawal (these will be explained in the following paragraphs). For the symptoms, physicians use a largely accepted algorithm known as the CIWA-Ar (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment) protocol. This survey takes a snapshot of a patient to determine how severe their withdrawal is at a point in time during their visit.

What doctors look for when determining severity of alcohol withdrawal: The categories assessed by the patient include nausea and vomiting, tremor (often in the hands), auditory, tactile or visual hallucinations, sweats, anxiety, headache, agitation, and disorientation. Additionally, the doctor will measure heart rate, blood pressure, and do a physical exam. Each category is measured out of 7 points, with 7 being the worst (the exception to this is disorientation, which is measured out of 4 points). The maximum score in the assessment is a 67, with patients under 10 usually being safe without medication, and with any number over 20 being considered severe withdrawal. However, this scale is meant to determine the severity of withdrawal, and is not as helpful in laying out a timeline of when these symptoms will present. For that, it is more helpful to understand the body’s reaction to the cessation of alcohol use.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal – Treatment, Causes, Timeline & Dangers

When you make the decision to stop drinking, either gradually or suddenly, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. While the exact symptoms of withdrawal will be different depending on the severity and longevity of addiction, there are some commonalities for withdrawal. Understanding the symptoms of withdrawal can help you prepare for the journey ahead. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawals and what to expect during the process.

What causes alcohol withdrawal?

Prolonged use of alcohol or alcohol abuse alters the brain’s chemistry. When copious amounts of alcohol are present or alcohol is used in high volumes, the body has to adapt. The mind adjusts to a new “normal” state with alcohol present. Once alcohol is removed, the body has to readjust to a new state of normal.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Auditory, Visual or Tactile Hallucinations?

Anyone who has struggled with the idea of giving up alcohol, often says they struggled due to fear. What most people fear is not knowing what their alcohol withdrawal experience will be like. The truth is, each person going through alcohol withdrawals have a unique experience. It depends on how long they drank, how much they drank, and several other factors. Those who drank for a long time or drank a lot of alcohol regularly seem to have the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can sometimes include hallucinations. To find out more, read on.

The Types of Hallucinations Caused By Alcohol Withdrawals

Let us start by making sure that you know that alcohol withdrawals is something you do not want to go through alone. Ideally, everyone who gives up drinking alcohol after even a slight addiction should do so under medical supervision. Typically, the hallucinations that some people experience are part of the reason why this is so necessary.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol?

When a person decides to stop drinking, they are likely to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The detox process for alcohol can take several days or several weeks, depending on multiple individual factors. Alcohol detox will be different for everybody, but there are some common symptoms to expect during this time. Keep reading to learn more about the timeline for alcohol detox and treatment options for those with an alcohol use disorder.

What is alcohol detox?

Alcohol detox is an important step in treating an alcohol use disorder. The process involves flushing alcohol from the body completely and results in withdrawal symptoms. When someone’s body becomes dependent on alcohol over time, they develop alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. Because your body is receiving chemicals from alcohol, your brain stops producing those specific chemicals, causing a dependency.

Making the decision to quit drinking is far from easy, but it is crucial to a person’s health and overall wellbeing. Prolonged alcohol consumption in excessive amounts leads to a buildup of toxins and waste products in the body. Alcohol detox begins the addiction treatment process as the body rids itself of toxins.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Headaches?

What Types of Symptoms Often Accompany Alcohol Withdrawals?

While the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary greatly between individuals, there are some common effects that many people experience. Here are some of the more common effects that come with stopping the consumption of alcohol.

Headaches that range from mild to migraine-like
Anxiety that can range from a slight nuisance to all-encompassing
Struggles with getting to sleep or staying asleep
Stomach upset, which may also include diarrhea and/or vomiting
Hallucinations can happen in anyone, but typically happen with those who have consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in their lifetime
Sweating that does not seem to stop even when the person cools off
Mild shakes that can make sitting still difficult

Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin by the time the person hits 24 hours without a drink. In most cases, these symptoms subside within 5-7 days. However, in some of the more serious instances, these effects can go on for much longer. Some patients have actually struggled with some of these symptoms for weeks after their last drink.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Nausea?

Withdrawing from alcohol, whether from a night of binge drinking or a longtime addiction, often results in the human body rebelling in a variety of ways. Excessive alcohol intake and long-term alcohol use affect nearly every system in the body. The effects, both psychological and physiological, can range from short-term to long-term and also mild to severe.

Many people have experienced the stereotypical hangover. After a night of excessive drinking, the body makes its displeasure known. These symptoms often appear the next morning but can start the same night as the alcohol intake. A hangover can be felt throughout the whole body with a general sense of fatigue, aches and pains, headache, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity, and a myriad of gastrointestinal problems. More than anything the body needs time to rid itself of the alcohol and to re-hydrate. In cases of extremely excessive alcohol consumption, medical attention and intervention may be required.

Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Seizures?

While people can safely enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol without becoming addicted, those who drink heavily may develop a tolerance for alcohol and eventually become dependent on it. In some cases, heavy alcohol use can lead to a clinical condition called an alcohol use disorder. One symptom of an alcohol use disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), is withdrawal. This happens when a person stops drinking and experiences uncomfortable symptoms such as sleep problems, nausea, and tremors as alcohol leaves the body. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures, but not everyone who undergoes withdrawal will have a seizure.

Symptoms & Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol detox can be just as frightening as alcoholism. For those who suffer from severe alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependency, getting sober can seem like an up-hill battle. Alcohol detox is an intense and often uncomfortable process, and withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. However, making the decision to stop drinking is a great first step towards recovery.

While alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous, it is possible to safely detox from alcohol. The timeline and symptoms of alcohol detox vary by individual, but there are three common stages. Detoxing from alcohol in a medically-supervised environment can be a safe and effective way to get sober and avoid deadly withdrawal symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about the stages of alcohol detox and how to safely maneuver through alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Here’s Why Alcohol Withdrawal Can Be Deadly

There is a lot of information circulating about alcohol detox and withdrawal symptoms. The jumble of details can be confusing for those dealing with an alcohol use disorder and their loved ones. Alcohol abuse is dangerous, damages the body, and impacts a person’s entire life. Detoxing from alcohol is a necessary first step towards recovery and sobriety. However, alcohol detox can also lead to withdrawal. For the most part, alcohol withdrawal is uncomfortable and difficult, but not deadly. There is no way for someone to know how their body will handle alcohol detox unless they consult a doctor, though. Some people with alcohol use disorders are at a higher risk for delirium tremens and potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. With proper care and medically-supervised treatment, the effects of alcohol withdrawal can be minimized in a safe environment. Keep reading to learn why alcohol withdrawal can be deadly and how to safely detox from alcohol.