Alcohol withdrawal is different for every individual. Various factors come into play, although the most important two are how long a person has been drinking and how much dependency they have to the drug. There is no way to predict exactly how long it will take for someone to withdraw from alcohol. However, withdrawal does happen in a number of stages. Each stage can last anything from just a few hours to several months.
Predicting How Long Alcohol Withdrawal Will Take
At Creative Care, we do not like to predict how long it will take someone to detox and withdraw from alcohol, as we do not want to raise false hope. However, we do follow the Nurses Learning guidelines that state that someone who does not develop complications can withdraw in a week. However, in many of the cases we treat with, medical intervention is needed and the entire process could take well over a year.
The Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal
The first stage of withdrawal will generally start just a few hours after having a final drink. It generally lasts no more than 24 hours and exhibits itself as tremulousness, which is why it is referred to as “the shakes”. Most people get very anxious at this time as well.
The second stage is seizures, which not everybody will develop. They can start very quickly, they occur within 48 hours in 90% of cases. Unfortunately, they can continue for several weeks.
Then, there are the hallucinations. They happen at the same occurrence as the seizures and are not present in every addict either. They can also reoccur at a later stage and can be tactile, visual or auditory.
Between 3 and 10 days after stopping alcohol consumption, a delirium tremens can happen. Once it strikes, it can last up to 10 days. Unfortunately, a delirium can be fatal and there is no way to predict whether or not someone will suffer from it. This is why it is so important to withdraw with medical supervision, as a delirium tremens can be a true medical emergency.
The next stage is known as “protracted withdrawal”. This can last up to a year and includes such things as anxiety, shakes, depression, irregular breathing, unstable blood pressure, memory problems and more. It is during this stage that our knowledge of dual diagnosis is so important, as we can help people who are dealing with psychological issues, ensuring they have better coping mechanisms than returning to alcohol.
Many people want to quit drinking without having a severe dependency on alcohol. However, they can still experience a range of withdrawal symptoms that are generally less severe than the ones described above, but still very uncomfortable and potentially frightening. Some of these symptoms include:
- The shakes
- Stomach problems
- Feelings of unease and anxiety
These symptoms will generally go very quickly and the body will have little difficulty in adjusting to a life of sobriety. The problem is, however, that a true alcoholic will never have a day during which they don’t at least want a drink or think about alcohol. This demonstrates the importance of having the proper psychological support as well.
Sometimes, medical intervention may be necessary. One example of this is if a person does experience a delirium tremens. However, other medical attention may be necessary in less severe cases as well. For instance, most people who have an alcohol dependency have a deficiency in vitamin B1, and they will need to supplement their diet with this for up to a year. Psychological assistance is also generally required. Furthermore, it is known that group support, such as that offered by Alcoholics Anonymous is incredibly important to ensure people do not relapse into abuse.
If you are currently struggling with an alcohol problem, or have a loved one who is, then please contact Creative Care today. We are there to help you regain control over your life, leaving behind a life of dependency and heading towards one where you can be a productive member of the community once again. We will work with you to identify the type of treatment that is most suitable to you, tailoring your package to your own personal needs.