How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?

Dealing with trauma

Alcohol is consumed by underaged drinkers typically falling between the ages of 12 and 21. The Center for Disease Control reports people in this age group consume 11 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the United States.

They further report underage drinkers consume alcohol while binge drinking. But binge drinking can easily turn into alcohol abuse and even addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports alcohol is the number one substance abused by teens.

What you may not realize is that the consequences of drinking alcohol affect many more people than just the underage drinker.

Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to abuse. It becomes even more dangerous during the detoxification process for those who have become dependent on alcohol. It is extremely important not to try and detox from alcohol yourself if you are dependent on alcohol.

How Do I Know If I Am Dependent on Alcohol?


Do you have a tolerance to alcohol? Meaning, do you find you need more alcohol to achieve the same “buzz”. If so, you may be dependent. Do you worry about where your next drink will come from or do you find it hard to stop once you start drinking? These are signs of dependence.

Other signs of dependence include: isolating yourself from friends and family to drink; increased use; and physical withdrawal symptoms.

When you begin physically withdrawing, or detoxing, you will be uncomfortable and may notice yourself shaking, sweating and even feeling like you need to vomit. If you experience these symptoms of detox, you most likely have become dependent.

Detox is a great goal to have. However, you must understand what to expect during each phase.

Detox begins the moment you take your last drink. Keep reading to find out just how long it takes to detox completely from alcohol and what it does to the body and brain.

First 6 to 12 Hours


Within the first hours of detoxification, you may still be drunk or buzzed or even feeling some effects of the alcohol. This is especially true for heavy drinkers. Even so, when you take that last drink and when your body realizes it has not had alcohol in a while, it will begin to react.

You may notice your hands shaking or parts of your body trembling. You may even feel anxious or stressed out. In addition, your stomach may feel pain or feel upset. You may even feel like vomiting, causing you to have a loss of appetite.

Furthermore, symptoms such as sweating, shaking and headaches are common among those who have quit drinking. Another common complaint is related to sleep. Many claim they find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep when they first quit drinking.

Nightmares, depression, fatigue, lack of concentration, and heart palpitations have also been noted.

These symptoms may seem doable to those who do not have a drinking problem. But to those who do, these symptoms can become overwhelming, triggering a relapse.

Detoxifying with the help of a drug and alcohol hospital is key in helping treat the initial symptoms of detox so you can continue in your journey to sobriety.

Next 12 to 48 Hours


If you have made it this far in your detox process, you may notice hallucinations, with any of the senses. You may hear things that are not there, or you may see something that is not visible to others.

At this point during detox, symptoms can become more severe. Some have experienced seizures, which can happen as muscle spasms, convulsions, and twitching uncontrollably.

Physical problems can occur, like high blood pressure, that can lead to severe damage if not treated with medical assistance. Again, detoxing at a medical facility geared to treat alcoholism is essential.

During the first two days of detox your body’s temperature can rise and lower to unsafe levels. Your breathing may become more rapid and you may experience severe mood swings. You may be irritable one moment, mild tempered the next and then angry.

You may even feel confused during this stage and find you struggle with memory and attention.

48 Hours and Beyond


After the first two days when you detox from alcohol, if you are not receiving medical help, you can expect the hallucinations to get worse. You may also experience delirium tremens, which are connected to a change in level of consciousness. They are very dangerous and have been associated with those who show signs of organ damage, such as with the liver.

You can expect severe mental confusion and disorientation at this stage. Your cravings will be severe and without the help of trained professionals, it is very difficult to remain sober. The physical and emotional pains are too strong for some, and they relapse.

This phase can last for weeks, depending on your level of addiction.

The good news is that there are easier ways to detox from alcohol. There are many drug and alcohol resources available to you, so you don’t have to suffer as much during detox.

Detox From Alcohol with Help


You have options. There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers with many ways help you detox from alcohol. They can also help you safely progress through your withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient detox typically means you stay in a medical facility for seven days or less. Your time depends on severity of addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Some people detoxing may only need a few days of outpatient help, while others may need more than seven days of inpatient stay.

There are many variants that determine the type of detox needed.

Because withdrawal symptoms can last many months after detoxification, it is important to continue treatment. The more treatment you receive, the less likely you are to relapse.

Research shows that those who detox from alcohol and do not attend further treatment, have a higher likelihood of drinking again. Both outpatient and inpatient recovery treatment is available that will equip you with the tools needed to sustain sobriety for the rest of your life.