Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline and Detox Guidelines

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline and Detox Guidelines

By In Addiction Recovery, Addiction Withdrawal, First Steps
Posted April 6, 2015

Can I withdraw from alcohol at home?
What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
How long does alcohol withdrawal last?

If you are asking yourself any of these questions, it’s important to know that alcohol withdrawal at home can be risky —even fatal. We don’t recommend withdrawing at home alone, but for informational purposes we’ve put together an alcohol withdrawal timeline to help you understand what symptoms a heavy drinker can expect when they suddenly stop (or significantly reduce) their alcohol intake.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms / Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)

Woman laying on floor because of alcohol withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, also known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can range from mild anxiety to severe hallucinations and seizures. People who drink heavily on a daily basis are at a high risk for withdrawal symptoms, which can manifest anywhere from five hours to a few days after your last drink.

You may experience a combination of the following symptoms. Keep in mind, alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening:

5 Hours – Four Days

  • headache
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • confusion or lack of clarity
  • tremors / shaking
  • insomnia
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • sweating
  • nightmares

Once the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome appear, you may experience  periods of hyper-sensitivity. Since your senses are used to being dulled by the effects of excessive and continuous alcohol intake, symptoms like irritability or anxiousness may seem overwhelming. You may experience periods that seem to volley between hyper-emotional and fatigue, all in short periods of time. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are likely to peak (or worsen) over the first two to four days before beginning to subside.

A noticeable lack of mental clarity may persist for weeks. During this time, it is important to refrain from sugar consumption, if possible. Cravings for sugar during withdrawal are normal, but this is because sugar causes the same types of insulin spikes as alcohol. Consuming sugar during detox can actually put you at a higher risk for relapse.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms – Delirium Tremens

The most severe level of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • rapid heart rate
  • extreme disorientation or confusion
  • highly irritable
  • seizures
  • auditory hallucinations (hearing sounds that don’t exist)
  • tactile hallucinations (itching, burning, and numbness of the skin)
  • visual hallucinations (seeing non-existent images)

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is a medical emergency. Call for help or visit your nearest emergency room.

Home Remedies for Alcohol Detox

Amino acids can be extremely helpful during early recovery and detox. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals your body produces to allow nerve cells to pass ‘all is well’ messages from cell to cell. Amino acids are the precursors of these neurotransmitters, and are almost always depleted during active addiction. Without amino acids, symptoms of withdrawal and alcohol cravings can seem unbearable. Replacing these lost aminos helps support the body and restore the brain to promote feelings of well being.

What Type of Amino Acids Should I Buy?

In double-blind research, alcoholics responded favorably to
DLPA (D, L-phenylalanine) combined with L-glutamine, L-tyrosine, and L-tryptophan. Look for these on the label of the amino acids bottle, which can be found at many health food stores.

Sleep During Alcohol Withdrawal

Woman sleeping during her withdrawal

Consistent and quality sleep is vital to addiction recovery and is especially important during alcohol detox. The liver does most of its repair work during the night, the digestive system prepares the body to eliminate toxins during sleep, and proper brain function does not occur without sufficient sleep. Sleep deprivation is connected to anxiety, irritability and depression, which can put you on the path to relapse.

If you are having trouble sleeping, melatonin is an over-the-counter supplement that can help.

What if I Need More than Just Detox?

You may be asking yourself, ‘What should I do after alcohol detox?’ Many individuals cannot successfully transition into a substance free lifestyle without outside assistance. Addiction recovery is a difficult process. Here at The Shores Treatment and Recovery, we take a holistic (mind, body and spirit) approach to addiction healing, treating the whole person as well as the family.
If you or someone you love is caught in the deadly cycle of addiction, give us a call today. You deserve to live a full and addiction-free life.

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