Alcohol Detoxification

What is the alcohol detoxification process like? Can it be completed at home? Read on to learn more about alcohol detox and treatment.

Table of Contents

What Is Alcohol Detox?

When it comes to alcohol use disorder, treatment typically begins with a detoxification process, when a person stops drinking, allowing the body to rid itself of all traces of alcohol. Detox is also referred to as alcohol withdrawal. For most people with alcohol use disorder, this process can be difficult and comes with some side effects, so it’s important to consult with a medical professional before an alcohol detox.
Alcohol Detox

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How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol

The severity of a person’s alcohol use disorder will likely determine how difficult their alcohol detoxification will be and how long the process will last. The detox timeline ranges anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on a person’s level of alcohol use. 1

Why Is Alcohol Detoxification Important?

An inpatient detox is often the recommended method of detoxification, as it allows an individual’s withdrawal symptoms to be monitored throughout their detox; inpatient detox also allows individuals to receive medications to minimize uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Although alcohol detox can be a difficult step in recovery, it is a very important step because it allows individuals to continue treatment with a clear mind and healthy body.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms and Side Effects

When a person goes through alcohol detoxification, they can expect to feel some side effects. This is very common in the alcohol detoxification process. Each person’s experience will be different, but there are minor and severe symptoms that one may experience. Examples of minor withdrawal and detox symptoms include: 2
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleep problems

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

Examples of severe withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sudden changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

Delirium Tremens

Additionally, a condition called delirium tremens (DTS) is another rare but serious side effect that can happen during alcohol withdrawal. DTS is a condition that involves dangerous changes in the brain and body that leads to severe symptoms including hallucinations, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, heavy sweating, stupor, and more. If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing DTS, it’s important to call 911 or get medical help immediately. 3

Alcohol Detox Stages and Timeline

The symptoms that come with detox from alcohol are typically divided into three stages based on what’s happening in the body as time passes without alcohol use. In some cases, each stage presents only mild symptoms; in others, symptoms are severe. The variation in symptoms and experiences is why receiving alcohol withdrawal treatment at a detox center is the safest option.

Stage 1

The first stage often involves mild symptoms like a hangover. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, and shakiness. It’s important to note that in people who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for a long time, the side effects in this first stage can be severe and even life-threatening.

Stage 2

The second stage includes more challenging symptoms like confusion, irritability, high blood pressure, fever, and irregular heartbeat. Again, heavier drinkers may face more serious side effects.

Stage 3

The last stage of alcohol detox is the most severe, and individuals can experience serious withdrawal symptoms like alcohol withdrawal seizures, fever, confusion, agitation, and delirium tremens.
As far as the alcohol detox timeline goes, it varies from person to person depending on their medical history and their history with alcohol and substance abuse. However, the alcohol detox timeline is typically as follows:

Alcohol Detox Timeline

The alcohol detox timeline is as follows:
  • 6-8 hours after your last drink: Individuals enter Stage 1 of detox, involving milder symptoms. 
  • 12-24 hours after your last drink: Individuals enter Stage 2 of detox, which can include moderate to severe symptoms.
  • 48-72+ hours after your last drink: Individuals enter Stage 3 of detox, where they experience the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Detox at Home

It’s important to remember that detoxing at home can be dangerous, especially for individuals with severe alcohol use disorder. However, people with mild or moderate alcohol use disorder may be able to safely detox at home. 4

Even someone completing an at-home detox should ideally be in contact with a medical professional in the form of an outpatient alcohol detox treatment program. Individuals would check in with a medical health provider each day, either in person or through telehealth, discussing alcohol detox symptoms and the next steps. This keeps individuals on track and allows a person’s health to be monitored and immediate action to be taken in case of severe symptoms. Some outpatient alcohol detox programs prescribe medications to help individuals cope with withdrawal symptoms.

At-Home Alcohol Detox Risk Factors

Not everyone is in a good situation to do an at-home detox, and it would be safer at an alcohol detox center. However, you may be able to safely complete at-home alcohol detoxification if you:
  • Have mild alcohol use disorder
  • Live in a safe and supportive environment
  • Do not use other substances
  • Are mentally stable and do not have thoughts of suicide
  • Do not have any serious psychiatric conditions
  • Have a record of good medical health
  • Do not have a history of seizures
Anyone who does not fit the criteria above should consider going to a treatment center to detox alcohol, where they can access round-the-clock care.
Alcohol Detox

Alcohol Detox Treatment at Profound Treatment Center

A major benefit of a detox from alcohol at a treatment center is that medical professionals often administer medications to help minimize alcohol detox symptoms, making the process more manageable. Additionally, drug and alcohol detox at a treatment center is typically the safest way to go through alcohol withdrawal.

Inpatient of Residential Treatment

At Profound Treatment Center, you can experience inpatient alcohol detox in a peaceful and supportive atmosphere with the medically supervised alcohol detoxification program. You receive 24/7 care in a serene, upscale environment where your individual needs are prioritized. A doctor or nurse practitioner is available to offer alcohol detox medications if your symptoms become too uncomfortable, supporting you every step of the way.

Medically Supervised Alcohol Detoxification at Profound Treatment Center

After completing detox at Profound Treatment, you can easily begin residential treatment or intensive outpatient treatment at Profound. These programs help you continue your journey to recovery, offering evidence-based therapy sessions and other holistic and supportive interventions. Don’t wait to get help. Reach out to Profound Treatment Center today at (310) 929-9546.

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