Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal begins when an individual who is physically dependent on alcohol stops drinking. The physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin to occur as a result of the brains neuro-adaptation that has created an physical dependence which makes various organs within the body to stop functioning or to function incorrectly when the individual decides to quit. The alcohol withdrawal timeline can include withdrawal symptoms that take place over a course of just a couple of days or the symptoms could persist for a number of weeks or months.
Whenever an individual is physically dependent on alcohol, the central nervous system is adversely affected by the drinking and permanent changes begin to take place. When alcohol is eliminated from the equation, a number of physical symptoms can occur, many of which pose serious health threats to the addict. These alcohol withdrawal symptoms are difficult to cope with, challenging to treat and potentially dangerous to the addict.
Typically, the worst of these symptoms will take place over the first two to four days following an alcoholic’s decision to quit drinking. As withdrawal persists, the majority of symptoms will peak and then begin to dissipate over time. The actual alcohol withdrawal timeline will depend on individual factors such as how severe your addiction is, how long you’ve been a heavy or chronic drinker and various other lifestyle factors.
2 to 10 Hours After Your Last Drink
Initially, the alcohol withdrawal timeline begins with the alcoholic exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and tremors. These symptoms will often begin within just a few hours after the addict has his or her last drink. Shakiness and anxiety will continue and these symptoms could peak to a point in which the addict is trembling violently or even risks a seizure as a result of the alcohol withdrawal.
During these early hours of alcohol detox, the addict may also have an increase in blood pressure, rapid breathing and irritability. Confusion and paranoia are common in moderate to severe cases of alcohol withdrawal and sleep disturbances such as night tremors, nightmares or terrors are all possible. The user will often suffer from moderate to severe nausea and vomiting during this time as well.
24 Hours After Your Last Drink
As the alcohol withdrawal timeline progresses on, the addict may begin to show serious symptoms of delerium tremens. Hallucinations are possible and extreme confusion is likely. These hallucinations can continue for a period of 24-48 hours and can cause the alcoholic to make irrational decisions or otherwise pose a serious threat to himself or others. Often times, alcoholics who suffer from hallucinations will be hospitalized during this challenging time of the withdrawal process.
Up to 48 Hours After Your Last Drink
For the first 2-48 hours following the last drink, chronic alcohol abusers are at an increased risk of seizures. While seizures do not occur in all instances of alcohol withdrawal, they are one of the most serious risks associated with alcohol related withdrawal and do require immediate medical attention if they do occur. Seizures become less likely following the first 24 hours of alcohol cessation and the risks continue to taper off with each hour following the first day.
Up to 7 Days After the Last Drink
Not all people who are addicted to alcohol and who quit drinking will go through delerium tremens but approximately ten percent of alcoholics will suffer from these symptoms. Delerium tremens is very dangerous and can lead to death! Symptoms, which may become most evident in the first 48-72 hours following the decision to quit drinking include:
- night terrors that seem real
- extreme agitation
- confusion that doesn’t go away
- panic attacks
- persistent hallucinations
- increased heart rate
- tachycardia or irregular heart beat
These symptoms can occur anytime 48 hours to one week after the last drink. Typically, the most dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will take place around the second and third day following the last drink and the symptoms will then gradually taper off and become less noticeable leading up to the full first week of complete abstinence from alcohol.