Josh Chandler | March 22, 2021

The Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal: What to Expect When Quitting Drinking

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline for Detox

Alcohol detox and the withdrawal symptoms vary based on the magnitude of the person’s dependency. The process is often categorized into three stages that escalate in severity over time. Only hours after an alcohol-dependent person goes without drinking, symptoms can begin to surface. After a week, the manageable feelings of anxiety, insomnia, and abdominal pain can develop into more debilitating experiences of hallucinations, fever, seizures, and more. These more severe symptoms depend on the individual and their access to proper guidance and resources.

The key to successful alcohol detox is knowing what to expect when quitting and having the support needed to prevent relapse at the height of withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is the overarching term for the variety of experiences someone faces when transitioning from heavy alcohol intake to none at all. Symptoms range over a spectrum of mild hangover-like feelings to life-threatening alterations in body chemistry. However, even the deepest level of alcohol dependency can be reversed with holistic and individualized assistance.

Click here to call Muse Addiction Treatment Center today.  Our staff is available 24/7 to provide answers and begin the admissions process.  Call 800-426-1818. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Delirium tremens (mental confusion/hallucinations)
  • Convulsions
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness

Alcohol Withdrawal Stages

The three general stages of alcohol withdrawal include: 

Stage one symptoms are similar to those of a hangover. Within six to eight hours, the person can experience nausea, anxiety, depression, mood swings, foggy thoughts, fatigue, abdominal pain, and even vomiting. Depending on the person’s usual alcohol intake, these symptoms can subside after 24 hours or progress into stage 2.

Stage two symptoms are less common and usually begin within the first three days of a detox. Symptoms can include increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, and subtle yet uncontrollable body movements, such as a hand twitch. The internal changes can give way to hypersensitivity to sound, irritability, sweating, and mental confusion. Though stage two symptoms are more intense than stage 1 signs, they are often still manageable.

Stage three symptoms are much more extreme and usually begin between days three and seven of alcohol detox. Many people experience hallucinations, fever, seizures, overwhelming mental confusion, and an even more significant heart rate increase. These symptoms often drive people back into drinking. The body longs for relief. With a proper medical detox program, it is possible to overcome stage three of alcohol withdrawal and regain normalcy and peace in life.

The Best Way to Get Through Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

There are two approaches to overcoming alcohol withdrawal: a medical detox program or detoxing at home. It is always better to seek a medical detox program designed to keep patients safe, comfortable, and thoroughly knowledgeable about their experiences. 

Medical detox programs provide the support of clinical staff and access to medications that alleviate the more unbearable symptoms. There is no blanket solution for overcoming alcoholism and achieving long-lasting recovery. For this reason, a professional and individualized approach that’s tailored to the patient’s needs is necessary. 

In choosing a medical alcohol detox program, there are also two methods to consider: inpatient or outpatient. Both provide the benefit of professional medical attention and a community’s support through the same experience. Both also focus on the end goal: helping patients live a productive and effective life beyond recovery. They offer dual-diagnosis treatment, helping patients navigate any more profound mental health implications that may be at the root of their addiction. They also provide case management services, assisting patients in securing employment on their way to a renewed life.

The critical difference is that inpatient treatment allows for a completely new environment, around-the-clock medical supervision, and complete separation from any triggers or temptations. Sometimes this stark change can prove highly beneficial in the recovery process.

One factor in choosing between the two can be a simple matter of affordability, but all medical detox programs offer various services to accommodate different budgets. 

The primary consideration to get through alcohol withdrawal is that some level of professional support is essential. Efforts to overcome alcoholism can be a dangerous and seemingly impossible cycle when done alone. With the help of an accredited medical detox program like at Muse Treatment Center, you can leave alcohol dependency in the past while a promising and healthy future unfolds. Call us today at 800-426-1818 to learn more.

Alcohol Addiction,Alcohol Rehab,Detox,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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