Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

alcohol withdrawal timeline

If you’re suffering from alcohol addiction, you’re not alone. It’s estimated the 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is a disease and a pandemic in this country, just as much as any virus. 

If you’re attending AA meetings but don’t think that’s enough, it’s time to look into a rehab program. A good rehab program will not just help heal your addiction, but address the deeper issues that caused it. Addiction is a many-headed beast, and it can never be fixed with the simple advice — “stop drinking”. 

However, you may be worried about withdrawal. 

It’s no wonder why. Detox — without medical assistance — could prove extremely dangerous. Before you go on any medical detox program, it’s important to have a good idea of the alcohol withdrawal timeline. 

This article will take you through an hour-by-hour, day by day, week by week alcohol withdrawal timeline, so you can know what to expect when taking the crucial steps to heal. 

6-12 Hours

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually start to develop from 6-12 hours after the last drink, when your body begins to realize it won’t be getting the drug it’s relied upon.

Symptoms in this stage are usually mild. These symptoms include: 

  • Headache
  • Anxiety 
  • Small bodily tremors
  • Upset stomach 
  • Insomnia 
  • Heart palpitations 

While these symptoms aren’t too bad, they can be alarming if you don’t know to expect them. It should be noted that someone with a long history of drinking has a small chance of having a seizure during this first stage.  

12-24 Hours

12-24 hours after the last drink, things start to become a little scary. The body has settled into the realization that it won’t be getting alcohol, and it’s angry about it. 

The symptoms in this stage are moderate. These include:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Tactile hallucinations 
  • Increased anxiety 
  • Minor changes in blood pressure levels

No doubt, experiencing hallucinations will be unsettling. A person going through withdrawal might experience depression and dread at this point, but it helps to know that this is all a part of the process. 

24-72 Hours 

This is when things reach their peak — the roughest part of the process. Minor symptoms from before might stick around or begin to taper off, and severe symptoms begin to set in. 

There are several serious risks during this stage for heavy alcohol users. Such risks are:

  • Seizure 
  • Higher chance for hallucinations
  • Cardiac arrest 
  • Severe confusion
  • Hypothermia 
  • High body temperature 
  • Delerium Tremens 

As you can see, the risks of this stage are no joke. This is why someone suffering from severe alcohol addiction should always detox at an approved medical facility, and should not try it on their own. 

It should also be noted that more minor alcohol users may never reach this severe stage, and symptoms may begin to resolve in this period. 

Delirium Tremens

After 48-72 hours, roughly five percent of severe alcoholics going through withdrawal may suffer from Delirium Tremens — one of the most dangerous and unique symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium Tremens has a high mortality rate, ranging from 3-15%. 

Delirium Tremens causes several very severe symptoms, such as: 

  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Breaks from reality
  • Nightmares 
  • Agitation
  • Severe confusions  

Delirium Tremens lasts for 2-3 days generally but has been known to last up to a week. Someone suffering from Delirium Tremens will have a different timeline for recovery than someone with other symptoms. 

Delirium Tremens is the most harrowing part of alcohol withdrawal. If you or a loved one’s drinking is so severe that you believe detox might cause Delirium Tremens, make sure you seek medical help for detox.

72 Hours — Five Days 

Severe symptoms begin to recede in this period of time. Most severe health risks cease being a problem. However, it should be noted that DT is still a risk at this time. 

This period can be a small period of grace for some alcoholics. While there are still severe risks and symptoms happening, many begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel here — some are even cleared of their symptoms by five days. 

Five Days — One Week 

Five days to one week see most patients begin to recover. Symptoms are almost always less severe, and much more similar to what you’d find in the first 24 hours. 

Following Weeks/Months 

With most symptoms gone, this is when most detox programs would start moving a patient into a rehab program. It should be noted that some patients still experience symptoms during this time. 

Some symptoms have been known to last for weeks and months. Delirium Tremens symptoms, in particular, tend to stick around for a while. While you’ll be clear of the physical dependence, you’ll most likely still feel cravings for alcohol, since you built up a mental and emotional dependence on alcohol too. 

While it may be discouraging for the nasty symptoms to stick around for so long, remember that almost all people make full recoveries from withdrawal symptoms. As you enter into a rehab program and get treatment, it’ll be encouraging to feel the symptoms slowly recede. 

Know the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are scary. Thankfully, with detox programs like ours, you’ll be able to get through them and on to your better life with minimal risk.

Once you understand the alcohol withdrawal timeline, you’re well on your way to healing your past mistakes and starting a better life. 

For more information about our rehab programs and to start your healing, contact us today.