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How Long Is the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

a person holds their fingertips together while sitting down next to a person taking notes in a notepad about alcohol withdrawal timeline

Alcohol addiction leads to physical dependence, which means that stopping drinking is usually accompanied by painful symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Undergoing alcohol withdrawal without medical oversight is dangerous and can even be fatal. Woodland Recovery Center’s Mississippi drug and alcohol detox center can help ensure that alcohol detox is safe and effective.

The alcohol withdrawal timeline differs for each individual. Many factors can impact exactly how long withdrawal lasts. You can also experience health complications and long-term effects when you work to overcome alcohol dependence. Knowing what to expect from the process is the first step in preparing for a successful detox.

Call 662.222.2989 today to learn more about getting help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms at Woodland Recovery Center.

How Long Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Many factors impact the exact time it takes to detox from alcohol fully. How long a person has been drinking and how much they drink each day play a significant role in how long detox takes. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens

Of all substances, alcohol brings some of the most serious withdrawal symptoms and some of the greatest chances of fatality. Attempting an alcohol detox should always be done under medical supervision at a treatment center.

Stages of the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

If you’re ready to stop drinking, one of your first questions is likely, “How long is alcohol withdrawal?” You’re probably also wondering what symptoms to expect. The timeline for alcohol withdrawal is usually broken down into four stages.

Phase 1 – 4 to 12 Hours

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin in the first few hours following your last drink. Symptoms in this stage are mild initially and gradually increase in intensity until around the 12-hour mark. Withdrawal symptoms in this phase are often more psychological, but physical symptoms also occur. You can expect:

  • Shaking
  • Chest tightness
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Cognitive changes
  • Feeling restless or irritable

Four hours after the last drink is typically the earliest withdrawal symptoms begin. For some, withdrawal symptoms might not start until the six- or eight-hour mark.

Phase 2 – 12 to 24 Hours

The second phase is when alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to noticeably increase in intensity. You can expect to experience the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings

When alcohol dependence is mild, this phase can mark the most severe stage. However, for those who drink heavily or who have been dependent on alcohol for a while, it’s at the 24-hour mark that symptoms can begin to grow more severe.

Phase 3 – 24 to 48 Hours

24-48 hours after the last drink is often when alcohol withdrawal symptoms peak. This stage also brings the highest risk of serious health complications. At this stage, previous symptoms continue to increase in intensity. Three of the greatest risks at this stage are dehydration, seizures, and delirium tremens. All three of these symptoms can have fatal results, which is why medical oversight is vital during alcohol withdrawal.

Phase 4 – 48+ Hours

After the 48-hour point, symptoms tend to depend on your level of dependence and overall physical health. After two days, it’s common for symptoms to begin abating gradually. In total, most physical withdrawal symptoms last around five days. However, it’s typical to continue to experience sleeplessness, emotional changes, and cravings for weeks or even months. Serious health complications like delirium tremens are a risk at this stage and can occur for up to ten days after your last drink.

Get Help with Alcohol Withdrawal at Woodland Recovery Center

Woodland Recovery Center offers detox and both inpatient and outpatient substance use treatment programs. If you or a loved one are ready to stop drinking, our programs can help you safely detox and provide the support that can lead to long-term recovery. Contact us at 662.222.2989 to learn more about the alcohol withdrawal timeline and detox treatment at Woodland Recovery Center.