alcohol withdrawal durationAlcohol Withdrawal Duration: How Long Does This Last?

Anyone who has been through or witnessed alcohol withdrawal knows that it’s not a pleasant experience. Physical symptoms include nausea, headaches, clammy skin, an increased heart rate, and tremors in the hands. In really severe cases, someone might experience a fever, hallucinations, and seizures.  Simply thinking about these sensations can be terrifying for someone with an alcohol addiction. Before committing to rehab, it’s common for an alcoholic to want to learn as much as they can about the process, including what the alcohol withdrawal duration is.

What to Expect for Alcohol Withdrawal Duration

Alcohol withdrawal usually starts between 5-10 hours after the last drink after ongoing and excessive consumption (though for some people this can happen much faster) and intensifies over the next couple of days. While these first few days are the worst, it’s possible that the symptoms can persist for weeks. The alcohol withdrawal duration varies from person to person, depending on how tolerant to alcohol the person is and how long they have been dependent on it. Basically, the more you drink and the longer you’ve been an addict, the worse it’s likely to be.

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The acute phase of alcohol withdrawal will usually last around a week and may consist of the physical symptoms described above as well as psychological symptoms like irritability, anxiety, confused thinking, and nightmares. (National Library of Medicine)

In really severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, the individual will experience four distinct stages, explained in more detail below:

  • Tremulousness stage: The person will experience hands or legs shakiness. This usually occurs after 6-12 hours of not drinking.
  • Seizures: Tremors are often followed by full-body seizures. These can occur anywhere between 6 to 48 hours after the last drink.
  • Hallucinations: During the hallucination stage, the individual may experience visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations. This stage also generally occurs between 6 and 48 hours after the last drink.
  • Delirium tremens: The last stage, delirium tremens, only affects about 5% of all people withdrawing from alcohol, and usually occurs within 3 days of the last drink. During this phase the person may experience delusions, agitation, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.

Those who experience severe alcohol withdrawal should seek professional medical attention. (eMedicine Health) Those who undergo milder symptoms should seek help from an alcohol rehab program to overcome withdrawal, addiction, and develop healthy habits for a balanced life. Recognizing alcohol withdrawal duration and the symptoms of withdrawal could be vital in getting medical attention for yourself or a loved one.

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