effects of quitting drinking timeline

Examining the Stages of Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal

When considering treatment for an alcohol addiction one of the biggest deterrents to following through is the fear of going through the detox process. Alcohol detoxification involves a period of about 5-7 days following cessation of drinking when the toxins related to alcohol are purged from the body. During this timeframe the body and brain will attempt to recalibrate and stabilize as it adjusts to the absence of alcohol. Alcohol detox is an unpleasant phase of recovery, but a necessary first step on the journey to living a satisfying sober life.

Understanding the effects of quitting drinking timeline can help prepare someone for what to expect, as well as assure them that a medical detox program will make medications available to ease the withdrawal symptoms throughout the process. Knowing that they will be closely monitored and will receive medical interventions as needed goes a long way toward easing anxiety related to the detox experience.

What Happens During Alcohol Medical Detox?

When an individual has a long history of excessive alcohol consumption their brain chemistry is altered as a result. By the time the person is addicted to alcohol, the brain has turned over the job of dopamine production to the alcohol and ceases to produce it naturally any more. Alcoholism alters many other bodily systems over time as well. Because of these adaptations, when alcohol intake is interrupted by the decision to get sober the body scrambles to adjust. This period of adjustment and stabilization is the detoxification phase of recovery.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms start off feeling like a bad hangover, but quickly escalate in severity. In fact, alcohol detox does carry risks and should always be supervised by medically trained detox professionals who can quickly manage any urgent health event that might arise. These providers will ensure that the detox process goes as smoothly as possible by administering needed medications as the withdrawal symptoms dictate. Benzodiazepines are offered to minimize the risk of seizures, to aid in managing anxiety, and also to help promote sleep. Other medications will manage the gastrointestinal distress, headache, and fever.

What Are the Stages of Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox and withdrawal can vary dramatically from one individual to another. The factors that influence how severe the withdrawal symptoms might be include the length of time the person engaged in heavy drinking, how much they would typically drink in a day, their age, whether there are medical conditions, and if there is a co-occurring mental health disorder. For this reason, the effects of quitting drinking timeline described here is just a general template, as each person will experience variations of it.

Mild Stage: Once an individual has stopped drinking they can expect withdrawal symptoms to emerge at about the 8-hour mark. The withdrawal symptoms in the first stage of detox include:

  • Sweating
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Hand tremors
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Clammy skin
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite

Moderate Stage: Within 12-48 hours withdrawal symptoms begin to become intensified. It is important that vital signs are constantly monitored at this point as symptoms can suddenly become problematic. The withdrawal symptoms in this middle stage include:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fever
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability
  • Changes in respiratory rate

Severe Stage: Days two and three are the time during alcohol detox when symptoms can suddenly become dangerous. Most will not experience these severe symptoms, but individuals with a long history of heavy alcohol consumption and co-occurring health issues are at highest risk of the most severe withdrawals called the delirium tremens (DTs). The withdrawal symptoms during the late stage of detox include:

  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Trembling
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Comprehensive Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

It is an error to believe that all that is needed to enjoy a long-lasting recovery is to go through detox and withdrawal. This is not the case! After successfully completing the effects of quitting drinking timeline there is some additional work to be done. Until the alcoholic learns how to change their addictive behaviors, and this is done through extensive individual and group therapy, they will simply return to drinking once the cravings return.

Addiction treatment covers a range of therapies and classes that equip the recovering alcoholic with coping tools, conflict resolution skills, stress-reduction techniques, relapse prevention planning, and a recovery community. These integrated treatment elements prepare the individual for managing life without alcohol, giving them the best shot at a sustained, life-affirming recovery.

Golf Drug Rehab Provides Medical Detox for Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Golf Drug Rehab is an upscale addiction treatment program serving Orange County, California. Understanding the effects of quitting drinking timeline, and how to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, the expert medical detox staff will safely guide clients through the detox phase of treatment. Following detox, a comprehensive addiction treatment program will provide the client with the means to remain sober, including psychotherapy, coping skills, stress reduction techniques, holistic tools, and relapse prevention strategizing. Golf Drug Rehab is unique in its blending of evidence-based treatment methods with recreational golf to round out the program. For more information about the program, please contact Golf Drug Rehab today at (877) 958-5320.

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