Alcohol withdrawal is a condition that occurs whenever an individual with alcohol use disorder significantly reduces or suddenly stops their alcohol consumption. Although some symptoms are nothing more than uncomfortable, others are incredibly dangerous, can expand over several days, and can lead to death.
It’s important that individuals with alcohol use disorders seek medical detox at the beginning of their recovery. Medical detox will allow the individual to detox safely and as pain-free as possible while working through the detox symptoms.
The Alcohol Withdrawal Symptom Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal can start as soon as just 6 hours after the individual’s last drink. Although most people experience alcohol withdrawal for 3 to 5 days after their last use, some individuals can experience withdrawal for 5 to 7 days after their last use.
Knowing the alcohol withdrawal symptom timeline can better help you understand what you are going to face while you detox.
Minor Symptoms: 6-12 Hours After Last Use
Alcohol withdrawal begins with minor symptoms that begin 6 to 12 hours after the last drink. Some of the most common symptoms experienced during this time include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Elevated body temperature
- Rapid breathing
- Excessive sweating
Alcoholic Hallucinosis: 12-24 Hours After Last Use
In severe cases, individuals can start to experience hallucinations while withdrawing. Some individuals can fully see or hear things that are not there. Others may experience intense sensations, such as pins and needles on the skin. Alcoholic hallucinosis is unusual, but it is not often severe.
Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures: 24-48 Hours After Last Use
After the 24-hour mark, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can become much more severe and dangerous. Within 24 to 48 hours of the individual’s last drink, they can begin experiencing seizures. It’s important for individuals to seek medical expertise at this time if they have not already. Not everyone withdrawing will experience seizures.
Delirium Tremens: 48-72 Hours After Last Use
Delirium tremens is the most dangerous side effect of alcohol withdrawal. They can occur 48 to 72 hours after the last drink. Delirium tremens is essentially hyperactive autonomic activity, ultimately leading to cardiac collapse. The mortality rate of delirium tremens is 37%. It’s imperative for you or your loved one to seek medical treatment if delirium tremens are being experienced.
Like the two symptoms above, not everyone withdrawing from alcohol will experience delirium tremens. Even so, it’s imperative to get medical treatment while withdrawing in case you are someone who experiences this dangerous withdrawal symptom.
Minor Symptoms Continue: 72-120 Hours After Last Use
For most individuals, alcoholic withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens happen between 3 and 5 days after the last drink. For individuals who do not have these symptoms exactly, the 3-day mark tends to be the most severe time of withdrawal. Once the peak is reached, the severe symptoms will subside into more mild symptoms until withdrawal is completely over.
Factors That Impact Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal is not the same for all patients. Several factors impact the timeline and how these symptoms are experienced by the individual. The following factors can impact how long withdrawal takes and how severe it will be:
- Frequency of drinking
- Length of time of drinking
- Amount consumed while drinking
- Medical history
- Co-occurring illness
- Other substances in the system
Because of how severe symptoms are when withdrawing from alcohol, always withdraw under the care of medical professionals. Medical detox will allow you to detox safely to ensure success, and it is the first step in long-term treatment.
If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism and needs outpatient care, contact Outpatient LA to learn more about receiving addiction help right now.