Last Updated on January 22, 2021 by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
While making the decision to quit alcohol is a big step toward a much better life, there are still challenges ahead. Specifically, most people wonder about how long before they detox from alcohol. After all, once this initial phase is complete, the real work can begin.
How Long to Detox from Alcohol?
There is no one answer to this question because everyone is different. How long before you detox from alcohol will depend on unique factors like your:
- Consumption Levels
- Co-Occurring Disorders (e.g. depression, eating disorders, etc.)
- How Long You’ve Been Drinking
- Other Substances You Take
That said, for most people, alcohol detox should take between 7 and 10 days. The body needs this time to completely cleanse itself of every last trace of alcohol.
What Does Alcohol Detox Entail?
The most common question that comes after figuring out how long it takes to detox from alcohol is what the actual process involves. By learning about what it entails, you’ll have a better understanding of why detox takes at least a week and what to expect when you begin going through it for yourself.
Some people will simply experience mild to severe headaches and the extreme desire to have one more drink.
However, the following detoxification symptoms may also occur when going through this process.
1. Delirium Tremens
During delirium tremens (DTs), you may become confused and even hallucinate as your body goes through physical withdrawals. Typically, this begins after you haven’t had any alcohol for three days and can last for another three.
2. Irregular Heart Rate
3. Shaking, Shivering, and Sweating
Many people who have been through the detoxification process describe it as feeling akin to having the flu. This is because sudden rises in body temperature can bring on sweating, which turns into shaking and shivering once the temperature goes back down.
For people who have been regularly drinking for a prolonged period of time, there is also the risk of seizures, which could lead to death. This is why it’s so important to seek professional help when attempting to detox from alcohol. Experienced medical professionals will administer medication to help with this phase and keep you under observation.
Usually, the risk only exists for the first 12 to 48 hours after the last drink.
How long before you detox from alcohol will depend largely on how well you’re able to manage these symptoms. After the more severe versions, there will still be others, like moodiness and irritability. If they’re not handled properly, even these lesser issues can convince someone going through detoxification to turn back and begin drinking again.
Seek Professional Assistance with Alcohol Detoxification
Being monitored and prescribed medication by professionals during this difficult time are vital to completing the detoxification process with your health intact. However, if you’re still worried about how long before you detox from alcohol, having these kinds of experienced professionals around can also provide a lot of comfort and answers to other questions you may have.