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Alcohol Addiction: Timeline, Withdrawal, and Treatment

Alcohol detox is a necessary part of getting better and healing from addiction to this substance. It can help to prevent severe complications and impacts on an individual’s life and health. Many often ask themselves how long alcohol takes to leave the system, how long the withdrawal symptoms may be present, and how to get through them without relapsing.

Getting this much-needed care can help these individuals overcome their struggle with alcohol and begin a healthier lifestyle. Understanding the alcohol withdrawal process is the first step.

Alcohol Detox

Anyone struggling with alcohol should understand that detox is the first step to getting better. Removing the toxins from the body that are introduced by alcohol provides a clean slate for individuals to build a foundation of recovery from alcohol addiction. Detox is a necessary process when it comes to overcoming struggles with alcohol. When the body becomes dependent on the substance, it needs it in order to function properly.

So, when the substance is not readily available, it results in uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal that can further impact daily life. Alcohol detox can help manage and alleviate these symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Signs

The signs of alcohol withdrawal can be easily identified. These signs can help the loved ones of the individual struggling to identify there is a problem and encourage them to seek professional help. These symptoms can include:

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Tremor
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Elevated body temperature, or hyperthermia
  • Increases in blood pressure
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Agitation
  • Seizure

Some of these symptoms can be dangerous, and having professional care and management can help to alleviate them, making this necessary process easier and smoother. Addressing alcohol withdrawal symptoms as they arise can benefit individuals seeking recovery to make it through the symptoms and achieve sobriety.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in the System

The length of time that alcohol can stay in the system can vary based on a number of factors. These factors include age, weight, metabolism, gender, medications being taken, and type and strength of the alcohol. It usually takes the liver about an hour to break down one unit of alcohol. However, if liver functionality is hindered, this can also affect the breakdown of alcohol.

These factors also play a role in how long alcohol detox can take. Everyone heals differently and at different paces, however, there is a general timeline of events that can occur during the withdrawal process. 

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin in as little as 6-12 hours from the last drink. More mild symptoms could begin to arise, and begin to peak. More severe symptoms could begin 24-48 hours after the last drink. Generally, within day 3 these symptoms begin to level off and subside, and within a week they could be gone altogether.

However, in some instances, protracted symptoms could occur. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, PAWS, can occur in individuals struggling with alcohol and can cause symptoms of withdrawal to last a lot longer. This is why it is highly suggested to seek professional help when struggling with alcohol.

Alcohol Detox

During alcohol detox, medications can be used to manage and treat the withdrawal symptoms. These medications can alleviate the symptoms, and make the withdrawal process more bearable for individuals looking to end alcohol use. The medications often used during alcohol detox include antidepressants, medications to aid with sleep, and anticonvulsants.

Medications like Vivitrol and Antabuse are in medication-assisted treatment, MAT, in order to help with fending off cravings and managing alcohol abuse long term. MAT medications often help manage withdrawal symptoms, while simultaneously helping those who struggle with alcohol to achieve long-term recovery. 

Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder

Knowing the signs of an alcohol use disorder can aid loved ones to be able to help the person struggling. Helping them to come to terms with their struggle, as well as assisting them when it comes to getting help can lay the path for successful recovery.

The signs that could be an indication of struggling with alcohol can include lying about and hiding the true scope of their drinking, drinking at inappropriate times, and engaging in risky behaviors while drinking, such as drinking and driving. Other potential signs of an alcohol use disorder can be more prominent, such as withdrawal symptoms when unable to drink, loss of job due to alcohol, having legal issues as a result of drinking and neglecting responsibilities in order to drink.

If a loved one is exhibiting these signs, they may be struggling and need help overcoming alcohol use disorder. Louisville Addiction Center can help.

Overcoming Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol abuse and addiction can leave someone with lifelong repercussions. From impacts to relationships with family and friends, to impacts that can occur on an individual’s health, alcohol addiction can be devastating. There is help available to assist these individuals with beginning the process of healing and recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol, we can help. At Louisville Addiction Center we offer a personalized program geared toward helping these individuals learn to live life without drinking alcohol.

Contact us today and begin your journey to recovery.


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