One of the first steps in treatment for alcohol addiction is detox. Rehab is secondary until detox is complete because a person needs to be fully present and aware in order to participate in the therapeutic process. Detox looks and behaves differently for each individual but generally follows a timeline of duration and length. Review what to expect during detox and learn why supervised detox can be critical to a person’s success long term.


Duration and Length

The length of time it takes to detox from alcohol varies for each person with no way to predict the exact duration and length. Most cases of acute detox end within a week but detox from alcohol can last from a few hours to several months. A few factors which influence detox duration and length include:

  • Individual tolerance to alcohol
  • Level of dependency
  • Length of time individual has been dependent on alcohol


Withdrawal symptoms will vary also person to person with a few factors to keep in mind. Initial symptoms are relatively mild for most people. Anxiety, insomnia and tremors are among some of the symptoms a person can expect to begin within 3 to 6 hours following cessation of drinking.



The following timeline outlines what a person can expect during detox from alcohol. A person is highly recommended to see out a professional facility prior to onset of detox.


Day 1-2: Symptoms of early alcohol withdrawal range in severity from mild tremors to convulsions. Initial symptoms may include headache, tremor, sweating, agitation, anxiety, irritability, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, difficulty concentrating and may include hallucinations in more serious cases. Some severe cases of alcohol withdrawal can become life-threatening with the risk of serious complications requiring round-the-clock monitoring of blood pressure and vital signs. The risk of possible seizures peaks around 24 hours.


Days 3-4: Within two to four days after the last drink, delirium tremens (DTs) may occur. Most people do not experience DTs however mortality rates are approximately 15%. It is extremely important to detox in a facility equipped to handle serious issues as they arise. Physiological symptoms create the most risk including a hyper-excited central nervous system and shifts in circulation and breathing to dangerous levels. Dehydration may also occur which is life-threatening.



A person who desires to make it all the way through alcohol withdrawal will experience a variety of symptoms unique to the person’s situation, physiology and experience with alcohol previous to detox. Medical attention should be available to support a person experiencing severe withdrawal. The timing and duration will depend on each person but the reality is it can be quite dangerous for anybody as there is no way to know how a person’s mind and body will react during detox. Having a medical facility with trained professionals oversee the process ensures an individual’s safety and health in the present and down the road to recovery.


Alcohol detox can have serious side effects. Don’t go it alone, call professionals who understand the process and can help guide you to the right facility for you. Treatment Now provides resources for individuals and families. Call today for more information. 844-438-8689