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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline and Detox Treatment

When someone becomes alcohol dependent, they are very likely to experience withdrawals if they interrupt or reduce the amount of drinking. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be so physically and emotionally painful that many people will continue drinking despite the negative consequences of fear of distress.

Alcohol intake interferes with the brain’s primary functions. It also disrupts how neurotransmitters send messages to the central nervous system. The Neurotransmitters are directly involved in transmitting feelings of relaxation and well-being. Once this function is disrupted, adverse physical and mental symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may occur.

Alcohol addiction can destroy someone’s life and the ones around them. Yet, many people continue to drink because of the fear of getting through alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is physically and emotionally uncomfortable; it can also be very risky. When withdrawal is attempted without adequate medical supervision, it can have fatal consequences.

Are you or someone you love struggling with alcohol addiction? If the answer is yes, you are likely to have lots of questions and concerns about alcohol withdrawal. You can find information about the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol detox on this web page. Furthermore, you can learn about the alcohol detox timeline and the details of what you might experience throughout an alcohol withdrawal.

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Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawal from alcohol can be challenging to get through because most people do not understand the effects alcohol has on the body. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are usually very uncomfortable and quite severe. Especially if you are a long-time alcohol user or drink daily. The good news is that there is medical help available, and you don’t have to get through alcohol withdrawal alone.

Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Although the central portion of an alcohol detox takes about a week, it is different for each individual, and withdrawal residuals can last a lot longer.

Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as a couple of hours from the last drink, but usually between six and 24 hours from the previous alcohol intake.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are known to come in minor, moderate, and severe stages.

                                          Minor withdrawal symptoms

Usually occurs within 6 to 12 hours after last drink and can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • A headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Slight tremors and nausea

                                                 Moderate withdrawal

Usually starts 12 to 24 hours after the last drink and continues up to 48 to 72 hours after discontinuing alcohol use. Symptoms may include:

  • Tactile hallucinations  (sense of itching, burning, or numbness are not indeed occurring).
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations (hearing sounds and seeing images that do not exist).
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Fever

                                                       Severe Stage

This more intense and dangerous withdrawal phase often begins 48 hours after the last drink and can last for an additional 24 to 48 hours.

Delirium tremens is a severe and potentially fatal consequence of alcoholism. The fatality rate for an individual suffering from delirium tremens can range from 3 to 15 %.


Symptoms of Delirium Tremens can include:

  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Autonomic hyperactivity
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heart rate or tachycardia
  • Agitation
  • Fatal complications from delirium tremens include:
  • Oversedation
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Aspiration pneumonitis


Delirium tremens can be challenging to diagnose because symptoms are similar to those from an acute withdrawal. Although acute alcohol withdrawal is rarely deadly, delirium can be much riskier.

Waismann Treatment for Alcoholism

Safe and effective treatment of alcohol withdrawal involves keeping the patient comfortable while closely monitoring for and preventing the occurrence of more severe and potentially life-threatening complications. Admission to a full-service accredited hospital provides the safest setting to treat alcohol withdrawal.

Once admitted to the hospital, a thorough medical history is obtained, and the patient undergoes a physical examination. A detailed panel of blood tests is obtained to assess the patient’s medical condition at the time of admission.  An EKG and chest x-ray is performed on all patients. Additional, more advanced diagnostic testing is performed if medically indicated based on the initial testing results. Patients receive IV hydration and replacement of essential electrolytes and minerals depleted with alcohol use.

The mainstay of the treatment of alcohol withdrawal involves the careful and frequent monitoring for withdrawal symptoms and administration of oral and intravenous medication.  The majority of patients are in the hospital for two to three days. Additional days are occasionally required for patients with co-existing heart, liver, pancreas, or gastrointestinal disease.

Once the acute phase of the alcohol withdrawal is completed, the patients are transferred to the Domus Retreat. They continue to be carefully monitored, and comfort and safety continue to be prioritized.

At Domus Retreat, clients also receive individualized psychotherapy and counseling to address an alcohol-free life’s emotional transition. We have different options of 10-14 day treatments available. Also, we offer extended stays based on the Domus Retreat availability.

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