Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect When Going Through Alcohol Withdrawal

By Michaela

Whether you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal or expecting to experience it soon, it is always helpful to know that it is coming so that you can prepare yourself and your body. In this post, we are going to address some of the most critical topics surrounding alcohol withdrawal and tell you everything you need to know about this challenging time.

By the end, you’ll know not only what to expect when going through alcohol withdrawal but also how to help your situation and perhaps even look at the issue of quitting alcohol through a different lens with a fresh perspective.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is the process of discontinuing the use of alcohol after regular or long-term usage. It typically involves a period of physical and psychological symptoms ranging from mild to severe. 

Common symptoms include anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, tremors, muscle aches and pains, sweating, heart palpitations, and increased blood pressure. More severe cases can lead to seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). These can all occur when someone has an alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction.

When going through alcohol withdrawal, it is important to be aware that different people experience different levels of withdrawal symptoms depending on the frequency and length of their drinking history and alcohol intake. Some may only need to manage mild discomfort, while others require more intensive management with medications. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Now that we know what we need to know about what alcohol withdrawal is, we can take a look at what you can expect in each timeframe. Here’s a breakdown of what symptoms you might experience when going through alcohol withdrawal in each of these timeframes.

4-12 Hours

At this stage, you may feel some mild discomfort and anxiety. These start out as mild symptoms as you go through your alcohol detox. You may also start to experience trembling, sweating, insomnia, nausea, and headaches.

24-72 Hours

At this stage, your symptoms will start to become more intense. You’ll notice more severe symptoms. You may experience a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and temperature, hallucinations, and seizures.

3-4 Days

At this point, your symptoms will start to become more manageable. You may still experience tremors, insomnia, and restlessness, but they should start to diminish in intensity.

4-5 Days

At this stage, your symptoms should be significantly more manageable. You may still experience some psychological discomfort and fatigue, but it should not be as severe as in previous days.

Factors That Affect Your Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

While the timeline that we have provided can be applied to many situations, it is certainly not the same experience for everybody when it comes to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. There are a number of factors that are going to influence what you actually experience when you are going through the severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Gender, Weight, and Age

Gender, weight, and age all have an effect on the severity and timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Gender is one of the biggest factors in how severe one’s symptoms are. Studies have shown that women tend to experience more intense withdrawal than men, and for a longer duration.

This could be due to differences in body composition, hormones, or even metabolism rate. Weight also plays an important role in determining the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. People who are heavier may find that their withdrawal symptoms are more intense and last longer than those with a lower body mass index (BMI).

Conversely, individuals with a lower BMI may find that their symptoms present at a higher intensity but dissipate faster than those with higher BMI levels. Lastly, age can influence the severity and timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Typically speaking, older individuals tend to have less severe withdrawal symptoms compared to younger individuals; however this is not always the case. Additionally, older people often take longer to recover because their bodies are not as capable of metabolizing toxins as quickly as younger people’s are.

Altogether, gender, weight, and age can all contribute to the severity and timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depending on individual circumstances.

Length of Alcohol Dependence

The length of an individual’s alcohol dependence is a significant factor in determining the severity and timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In general, the longer someone has been dependent on alcohol, the more severe their symptoms will be when they go through withdrawal.

This is because extended periods of dependence can cause physical damage to vital organs and systems within the body, making withdrawal particularly challenging. It is also important to note that those who have been drinking heavily for long periods are more likely to suffer from delirium tremens (DTs), which can be life-threatening.

Additionally, individuals who have been dependent on alcohol for an extended period may take longer to recover due to their bodies not functioning as efficiently as they did previously.

Physical & Mental Health

Physical and mental health are two of the most important factors that can influence the severity and timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Various physical health issues, such as kidney or liver problems, can cause patients to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms than if they were healthy. This is because those organs play a vital role in processing toxins that build up during alcohol consumption. Additionally, chronic conditions like diabetes can also make alcohol withdrawal harder on the body. Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or PTSD can also worsen the intensity of the withdrawal process due to increased stress and difficulty in coping mechanisms. 

Patients with underlying mental health problems are often at an increased risk for developing serious complications from alcohol withdrawal such as delirium tremens (DTs). Those with severe anxiety may have an especially difficult time dealing with alcohol cravings and triggers which can prolong their recovery time. It is important to consider one’s physical and mental state when attempting to overcome addiction in order to get through it safely and effectively. 

Fortunately, there are treatments available that address both physical and mental health needs during detoxification from alcohol abuse. These treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapies, medications such as benzodiazepines to help ease certain symptoms of withdrawals, nutritional support, medically supervised care, psychological counseling, and other forms of treatment designed to help manage both physical and psychological symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawals.

Let’s Recap

If you are going through alcohol withdrawal or planning to stop alcohol abruptly, you should know that there are better ways to address alcohol dependence that are more sustainable. Alcohol withdrawal treatment doesn’t have to be rigid, oppressive, and unattainable. The Alcohol Coach offers a program focused on positivity and empowerment, not deprivation.

If you are ready to end your dependency on alcohol with minimal side effects from withdrawal, then enroll with The Alcohol Coach today!

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Hi, I'm Michela

I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!

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