What To Expect When Detoxing From Alcohol: The Process Explained

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Health

Over 15 million people in the United States have an alcohol use disorder, and many of those people don’t seek help to get better.

If you or someone you love struggles with alcoholism and want to get sober, you’re already on the right path. The next step is to start detoxing from alcohol, which is an intense and difficult process, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

Keep reading to learn more about what you may experience while you detox from alcohol so you can be better prepared and make it through your detox alcohol-free.

Psychological and Emotional Symptoms

You will start to experience some unsettling emotional and psychological symptoms within eight hours of your alcohol detox.

Many people abuse alcohol to cover up negative feelings such as guilt, loneliness, depression, or anger. This means when you quit drinking, you’ll feel those moods a lot more intensely because you are no longer numbing them with alcohol. 

These mood changes can continue for weeks following your detox unless you address them directly. Consider going to support groups or therapy to work through these intense emotions.

Some of the mild psychological and emotional symptoms you might experience include:

  • Alcohol cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Confusion

A couple of days into your detox, you also may experience more severe symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, or disorientation.

Physical Symptoms 

During your detox, you will also experience mild to severe physical symptoms. It’s important to know beforehand what to expect so you can prepare yourself and take the necessary precautions to prevent any serious harm during your detox.

Some of the mild physical symptoms you may experience include:

  • General physical agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

Alcohol detoxification can also lead to serious medical emergencies like seizures, which is why it’s important to check into a detox program so you can be medically supervised. If you can’t check into a program, see if a friend or loved one can stay with you during the first few days of your detox.

How Long Do Detox Symptoms Last?

When you’re in the midst of a painful detox, all you want to know is how much longer it’ll last. 

Your withdrawal symptoms will be at their worst starting around eight hours after your last drink, and will typically be severe for the next three days. After around 72 hours, you should start to notice a decrease in the severity of your symptoms.

After five to seven days, your symptoms will start to subside. However, some people may continue to experience mild psychological symptoms such as mood changes for a few weeks after your last drink.

Detoxing From Alcohol: Don’t Do It Alone

Detoxing from alcohol isn’t just painful to go through, but it can be dangerous and lead to serious medical emergencies. That’s why you need to either detox in a rehab center or have someone with you during the first few days of your detox in case anything happens.

Are you looking for more helpful content on detoxing? Check out our health and lifestyle page!

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