How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?
As is the case with all addictions, it is extremely rare that the sufferer originally intended to fall into the dangerous behavior that led to his or her addiction. Similarly, it is extremely rare that the sufferer thought his or her behavior would eventually lead him or her to suffer withdrawal symptoms and have to seek help. What can be the odd drink every now and then with friends can soon develop into a full-on addiction at a moment’s notice.
The many unfortunate symptoms of withdrawal can be experienced by a vast number of people, not just those who are considered to be alcoholics. This can be a harrowing experience for anyone and an especially bad time for those who were not expecting it. And, the unfortunate truth of the matter is there is no exact length for this process of detoxification. This process by which the body rids itself of all harmful chemicals and toxins left by alcohol or other substances varies greatly in length. It depends on several factors, such as diet, type of substance, exercise, and general lifestyle. It is vital, however, that a person undergoing detoxification remain focused on his or her recovery. This is, by far, the hardest and most trying segment of his or her long journey to recovery.
By its very nature, alcohol has an immediate effect on the body. The effects of alcohol withdrawal can be felt within just a few hours of your last drink. These withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly depending on the individual. Such factors include how often the person drinks, his or her diet, and how efficiently his or her immune system works. For heavier drinkers, it is much more likely that withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear fairly immediately after stopping a heavy drinking session. These symptoms are also likely to be much more severe for someone who drinks heavily on a regular basis.
What Does the Process Involve?
For the average alcohol drinker, withdrawal symptoms are not likely to be a severe or life-threatening experience. But, for a heavy drinker who is used to binge drinking, the process of alcohol withdrawal and detoxification can be extremely dangerous if it is not handled properly and carefully. This is because a heavy drinker has developed a chemical dependency within his or her body. His or her inner nervous systems can only function if alcohol is present because the body has become used to working around the harmful substance.
When alcohol is not present in the body, the nervous system does not function correctly. It is fooled into thinking it requires alcohol to continue working efficiently. The brain lacks the necessary neurotransmitters to function and gets sent into shock, causing the blood levels to also go into shock.
The Symptoms of Alcohol Detoxification
There are many symptoms of alcohol detoxification and some are much more severe than others. These symptoms can vary a great deal depending on the individual and how much he or she drinks on a regular basis.
One symptom that can cause many problems is depression. Depression is an unfortunate side effect of alcohol detoxification and a very common one. This causes many issues when on the journey to recovery because depression can make it a lot more challenging. The sufferer is not only dealing with the extremely difficult task of recovering from alcohol addiction. He or she also has to deal with the effects of depression that can leave him or her feeling as though he or she cannot make it through the recovery treatment.
A very similar symptom is anxiety, which is often paired with depression. This symptom can greatly affect how an individual views himself or herself and others. It also affects how he or she interacts with others, which is a vital step toward recovery.
Some less severe symptoms include general irritability, sweating, vomiting, nausea, and mood swings. While these symptoms may not be pleasant, they are not very severe and will only cause slight discomfort. However, if these symptoms are paired with the more severe symptoms of alcohol detoxification, then it can be a lethal combination. And, that can prove to be too much for someone. Some other symptoms that can cause further issues are extreme bouts of fatigue, rapidly increasing heart rate, moments of dehydration, and mild seizures.
What is the Average Length of Alcohol Detox?
Perhaps, the most commonly asked question by those undergoing or those about to undergo alcohol detox is “how long will this last?” There is, unfortunately, no easy or quick answer to this question. There are far too many factors and variables that affect an individual’s own alcohol detox duration. Two factors are the amount of alcohol he or she drinks and how often. Despite not being able to give an exact answer to the question, it is believed symptoms usually become worse at around the 24-hour mark and continue to worsen until around 72 hours. However, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Many people reportedly suffer symptoms for up to several weeks. This is known as the acute withdrawal stage and is generally considered to be the worst stage in the recovery process.
Factors that Influence the Alcohol Detoxification Process
As previously mentioned, the length of alcohol detoxification greatly depends on several factors that can vary widely between individuals. One of these factors is, of course, the amount of alcohol that is consumed. As you can assume, the more alcohol an individual consumes before detox, the more his or her body will be required to work to rid itself of the excessive toxins and chemicals left by the alcohol. This means the detoxification process will take much longer than someone who has consumed a lot less alcohol before detox.
Another factor that determines how long this process takes is how long the individual has been drinking. For example, if the individual has been drinking for decades — from a very young age –then he or she is much more likely to be in detox for longer than someone who has just started drinking. This person’s body will be more used to functioning with alcohol being commonly consumed. Another factor that goes hand in hand with the previous one is how often the individual consumes alcohol. Someone who drinks regularly is much more likely to have a longer time in detox because his or her body likely has a buildup of alcohol that must be gotten rid of.
Several other factors may also affect the duration of an individual’s alcohol detoxification. These include the individual’s weight and age as well as his or her current diet. Another factor that can have a large impact on the duration of detoxification is whether the alcohol was consumed in combination with other harmful substances.
Remaining on the Road to Recovery
Addiction recovery can be an exceptionally difficult journey, but, very much, a necessary one. It is important to recognize, however, that you are not alone on this journey. SOBA College Recovery Addiction Treatment Center, one of the top rehab centers in NJ, is on hand to help. We provide one-on-one sessions, professional therapy as part of a group, and other forms of professional help that will help you through your recovery stages. We will guide you through your long journey to recovery, and provide help at any point along the way.
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