A person can begin going into withdrawal from alcohol within hours of their last drink.
These withdrawal symptoms are most often seen in men and women who drink heavily or those who have been drinking for many years. However, the symptoms of withdrawal vary by person.
Many factors play a role in the time needed to clear the bloodstream completely of alcohol. The person’s gender, age, and overall are three factors outside of their alcohol use history. Most people find withdrawal symptoms begin within eight hours of their last drink. Nevertheless, some people go for days having no withdrawal symptoms. When they suddenly appear, the person is surprised. Undergoing a medical detox helps to keep withdrawal symptoms under control.
Withdrawal symptoms typically peak within 72 hours of the last drink. A person may still have symptoms weeks later, and alcohol may still show up on urine, saliva, and hair tests designed to detect alcohol use. The alcohol remains in the hair, saliva, and urine after it is no longer present in the bloodstream. Surprisingly, a person might also suffer withdrawal symptoms if they cut back on their alcohol consumption without stopping completely.
The Medical Detox Timeline
When a person first quits drinking, they may experience some anxiety or find it hard to sleep. These symptoms typically occur in the first six to 12 hours. The person might also have a headache, nausea, or stomach pains and find they have no desire to eat.
After the initial 12 hours, the patient may have new symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations. Forty-eight hours after the person had their last drink, delirium tremens may appear, and a person might find their blood pressure rises and their heart rate increases. Some people develop a fever and sweat profusely.
After 72 hours, symptoms typically start to abate. The worst of the withdrawal process is over. Most people find the remaining symptoms gradually disappear within a week, although symptoms persist longer in some people.
However, this timeline varies by person. Many factors play a role in when different symptoms will present. These factors include the age and weight of the person, whether they have co-occurring mental health issues, and any physical ailments they have. If the person uses alcohol together with other substances, this dual use affects the detox timeline.
The Dangers of Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens (DTs) is an extreme symptom of withdrawal in alcoholics. The person’s level of consciousness changes, and up to 15 percent of people who experience DTs die. Death is more likely in older individuals who have been heavy drinkers for many years and those with poor liver function. A previous history of DTs or severe withdrawal symptoms initially are both signs a person is at a higher risk of delirium tremens.
Understanding the Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal
People who drink heavily or frequently become chemically dependent on this substance. When alcohol levels in the body drop, the brain may go into shock. Alcohol consumption suppresses neurotransmitters in the brain. The neurotransmitters need time to adjust to the lack of alcohol before they can function properly again.
Withdrawing from alcohol or any drug isn’t easy. Medical care is of great help in easing the symptoms and reducing the risk of complications, such as seizures. Furthermore, a medical team can help with severe symptoms like delirium tremens, which may be fatal if not addressed. Sobriety isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Reach out to a treatment facility and detox under the guidance of medical professionals for better outcomes all around.