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Alcohol Detox

Last Updated on November 20, 2023
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Writer: Adam Zagha
Clinical Reviewer: Ariana Gravanis

It is estimated that more than 140,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes. And with numbers rising exponentially, more and more people are put at risk of alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction.

NUMA Recovery Centers zeroes in on alcohol addiction and tackles everything you may need to know to arm you with knowledge about alcohol detox while addressing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Continue reading to find out more.

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Why is Detoxing from Alcohol Important?

The first thing to know about detoxification from alcohol is that it's not like quitting cigarettes. You can't just throw away your stash and expect to be clean. The most dangerous part of detoxing is the alcohol withdrawal symptoms you'll experience.

Unlike quitting smoking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening. If you don't want to go through a painful, potentially deadly withdrawal period, then it's best to seek help from a professional who can walk you through this process safely.

It's also important to understand that detoxing from alcohol doesn't mean you have to stop drinking altogether. Detoxing just means getting your body out of its dependence on alcohol so that it can function normally again—which does not include getting drunk.

Symptoms to Expect in Alcohol Detox

Detoxification from alcoholism will pose a great challenge as one of the many mental disorders that an individual may encounter in their life. While people survive them most of the time, it's the severe withdrawal symptoms that may cause bigger problems for an individual who may need more time to wean them during the alcohol detox process.

But before we delve into them further, let's first focus on the most common symptoms to expect. We have classified them into two types namely physical and psychological symptoms. Check the following symptoms below.

Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and detox process:

  • Headaches

  • Sweats/Rashes

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Seizures or Delirium Tremens (DTs)

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and detoxification::

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Depression

  • Insomnia and nightmares

  • Irritability and agitation

  • Intense cravings for alcohol

  • Severe mood swings

Regardless if these come in the form of mild symptoms or worsen to severe symptoms, it's always important to consult medical professionals to avoid life-threatening symptoms to get worse even more. A rehab center working together with the Mental Health Services Administration and endorsed by the American Family Physicians and a reputable mental health services organization brings a level of comfort to individuals knowing that they're in good hands when it comes to recovery.

Timeline to Expect in Alcohol Detox

The timeline to expect in alcohol detox depends on the length and severity of your addiction. If you're new to drinking and have never had a problem with it, you might be able to stop drinking immediately and start feeling better almost right away.

But if you've been using alcohol heavily or have a history of addiction, it can take time for your body to adjust to life without alcohol.

In general, it takes about one day each year that you've been drinking heavily before your body has fully adjusted back into normal functioning mode.

So if you've been an alcoholic for 20 years? That means that it could take up to 20 days before your body fully adjusts back into normal functioning mode once again!

But for clarity's sake, let's assume we perform a seven day-detox to post-10 days. There are several effects or symptoms one might feel, from mild withdrawal symptoms to more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Day 1

Just like with similar detoxing processes with that of heroin detox, the first day is always a tough one. You can expect to feel less severe symptoms from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This might include:

  • Feeling tired and sluggish

  • Feeling irritable and anxious

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Having headaches or body aches

Day 2 to 3

On the second and third days of alcohol detox, you might start to feel more tired than usual. You may sleep a lot and find that you don't have much energy when you wake up.

In addition, people coming off alcohol often experience intense cravings for alcohol. These cravings can be so strong that they cause people to relapse. It's important to recognize these symptoms and take steps to manage them. It may be helpful to keep yourself busy and distracted during this time so that you don't make any foolish decisions.

Day 3 to 5

The alcohol withdrawal timeline may be harder during these periods and may yield the same uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as that of opioid detox.

On your third day, you may feel a little dizzy and lightheaded. You may also begin to experience mild nausea, which is a sign that your body is beginning to rid itself of toxins.

On the fourth day, your symptoms may intensify. You may experience diarrhea and vomiting as your body works to purge itself of the alcohol.

On the fifth day, you may feel like you have a hangover—your head will ache and you'll likely have trouble sleeping. You may also experience tremors or excessive shaking.

If you feel prolonged symptoms at this point, you may inform your consulting physician to avoid it from progressing into more severe symptoms.

Day 5 to 7

The fifth day of alcohol detox is a bit of a turning point. You may still feel the effects of withdrawal, but you've reached the point where you can start to take control of the process.

During the fifth day, your body will continue to rid itself of alcohol. It's important to stay hydrated and eat enough food so that your body has the energy it needs to burn through the toxins in your system.

The sixth day is usually one of the easiest for recovering alcoholics—the worst part of withdrawal is over, and you're starting to feel like yourself again. You should be able to keep up with daily activities and routines without feeling too tired or drained.

By day seven, you should have regained some of your energy levels back to normal (or close enough). You'll still have lingering physical symptoms such as headaches or nausea from time to time, but these should be manageable at this point.

Post 7 Days

After a week of alcohol detox, you can expect to feel better.

Your body is working hard to eliminate the toxins that were in your system for years. You may feel more tired than usual, but that's normal.

You may also experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, sweating, shakiness, and insomnia. These are all signs that your body is trying to rid itself of the alcohol in its system.

You may also have headaches or stomach aches from time to time—don't worry! These are common side effects of detoxing from alcohol, but they will go away eventually.

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Alcohol Detoxing Medication

Alcohol withdrawal is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening. Here are the types of medications that are used to treat it:

  • Benzodiazepines: These are sedatives that help with anxiety and other symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. They include:

    • diazepam (Valium)

    • lorazepam (Ativan)

    • clonazepam (Klonopin)

    • and alprazolam (Xanax)

  • Antidepressants: These medications help with depression and anxiety symptoms associated with the management of alcohol withdrawal. Examples include:

    • bupropion (Wellbutrin)

    • nortriptyline (Pamelor)

  • Mood stabilizers: These medications help balance moods during alcohol withdrawal by stabilizing the brain's chemistry, which can be thrown off by drinking. Some known mood stabilizers come in the form of:

    • carbamazepine (Tegretol)

    • oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)

How Long Do You Have to Drink to Detox?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The time it takes for your body to cleanse and purge itself of toxins depends on your alcohol intake throughout your lifetime, as well as how much you're consuming now. The more you've drank, the longer it will take your body to detoxify itself.

In general, though, most experts through clinical and diagnostic research have concluded that if you engage in heavy alcohol consumption (more than five drinks in one sitting) or if you have a long history of alcoholism or other substance abuse issues, then a full detoxification process can take anywhere from two weeks to several months.

What Are The Signs When You Should Stop Drinking?

You know you need to cut back on your drinking when you start feeling like you're drinking too much. If you're not sure how much is too much, here are some signs to look out for:

  1. You're waking up with a hangover every morning.

  1. You can't remember things that happened while you were drinking the night before.

  1. You have trouble controlling your emotions while drinking, especially if they're negative emotions (like anger or sadness).

  1. You have trouble controlling your behavior while drinking—for example, getting into fights, driving drunk, or having sex with someone who isn't your partner.

  1. You experience severe alcohol use disorder symptoms like severe confusion or dangerously high blood pressure.

Always remember that when you drink heavily longer-term you put yourself at greater risk of developing abnormal liver function and a severe form of mental illness affecting your central nervous system.

Can NUMA Help with Alcoholism Detox?

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism should not be taken lightly. People who engage in alcohol abuse started with just mild alcohol use but later on snowball into alcohol dependence. NUMA Recovery Centers assists individuals by providing mental health assistive services helping individuals cope as they experience alcohol withdrawal.

Apart from alcohol withdrawal syndrome, our team also addresses drug abuse and provides assistance and care during substance abuse treatment.

Contact us to find out more about how NUMA can help with our treatment improvement protocol and evidence-based therapies that not only cares for the mental but also physical health of every individual.

Together, we can end alcohol abuse and alcoholism and find a way to achieve long-term sobriety.

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adam zagha of numa detox and rehab in los angeles
Adam Zagha
Adam Zagha is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles with over a decade of experience in addiction treatment and recovery. He holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and is certified in EMDR therapy, CBT, DBT, and ACT. Prior to Numa Recovery Centers, Adam was CFO and the Director of Clinical Outreach at Transcend Recovery Community. Adam is committed to providing top-quality care to individuals seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. He also provides trainings and workshops on addiction, mental health, and mindfulness.
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About Numa
Numa Recovery Centers is a leading drug and alcohol detox and rehab company based in Los Angeles, providing evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and addiction. With a team of experienced professionals, Numa offers a comprehensive range of personalized services to help clients overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery.
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    Numa Recovery Centers is a comprehensive drug and alcohol detox and rehab facility in Los Angeles, California dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery. Our team of experienced professionals provides individualized care and support to address the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of those struggling with substance abuse.


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    California License Number: 191284AP

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