How Long Does it Take to Detox From Alcohol?By Michaela

Alcohol detox is the process of eliminating alcohol from the body. Understanding the process of alcohol detox and the factors that can influence it can help individuals prepare for and navigate the detox process, as well as managing the physical and psychological symptoms that can occur as a result of stopping or reducing alcohol consumption. 

In this post, we will explore the process of alcohol detox and the factors that can affect its length. We will also discuss the various options for managing an alcohol detox, and the importance of follow-up care and treatment in increasing the chances of long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.

Factors that Affect the Length of Alcohol Detox

Understanding the factors that can influence the length of alcohol detox can help individuals prepare for the process and know what to expect. For example, if an individual has a history of heavy alcohol consumption, they may need to plan for a longer detox process and be prepared for more severe withdrawal symptoms. 

It can also help individuals make informed decisions about their treatment options and the potential impact of these factors on the detox process. Let’s discuss some of the factors that affect the length of alcohol detox below.

Amount and frequency of alcohol consumption

One of the primary factors that can affect the length of alcohol detox is the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption. The more alcohol an individual consumes and the more frequently they drink, the longer it may take for their body to detox. This is because the body becomes accustomed to the presence of alcohol and may experience withdrawal symptoms when it is no longer present.

Every day when a drinker wakes, they are in withdrawal until the next drink. This means that an evening drinker is detoxing every day, topping up the toxins every evening.

Age and overall health of the individual

Age and overall health can also play a role in the length of alcohol detox. Older individuals and those with underlying health conditions may have a longer detox process due to their reduced ability to metabolize and eliminate alcohol from the body.

Presence of underlying medical conditions

The presence of other drugs or substances can also affect the length of alcohol detox. For example, individuals who abuse alcohol in combination with other substances, such as prescription medications or illicit drugs, may experience a longer and more complicated detox process.

Use of other drugs or substances

The presence of other substances can complicate the detox process and make it more difficult for the body to eliminate alcohol. This can prolong the detox process and increase the severity of withdrawal symptoms. It could also increase the risk of drug interactions and potentially dangerous side effects during detox, which can further complicate the detox process and may require more intensive medical supervision and support.

Furthermore, the use of other substances can indicate the presence of polysubstance abuse, which can increase the risk of physical and psychological harm during detox. Polysubstance abuse refers to the use of multiple substances, including alcohol, and can be more challenging to treat due to the complexity of the addiction and the potential for multiple withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms are common during alcohol detox from prior alcohol abuse and can include:

  • Tremors

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can cause tremors, or involuntary shaking, that can range from mild to severe. Tremors can affect the hands, arms, legs, or head and may be accompanied by weakness or fatigue.

  • Seizures

Alcohol detox can cause seizures, which are sudden, uncontrolled electrical discharges in the brain that can cause convulsions and loss of consciousness. Seizures can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

  • Headaches

Alcohol detox can cause headaches, which are one of the most moderate withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Headaches may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, and light sensitivity.

  • Fatigue

Alcohol detox can cause fatigue or extreme tiredness and lack of energy, along with other acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms similar to those associated with substance abuse and heavy alcohol consumption. Fatigue may be accompanied by difficulty concentrating, difficulty with memory, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

  • Nausea and vomiting

Alcohol detox can cause nausea and vomiting, which can be accompanied by abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

Psychological symptoms

Psychological symptoms are common during alcohol detox and can include:

  • Anxiety

Anxiety is a common psychological symptom of alcohol detox and can range from mild to severe. Anxiety can manifest as feelings of worry, nervousness, or panic and may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and sweating.

  • Depression

Depression is another common psychological symptom of alcohol detox and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms of depression may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

  • Mood swings

Alcohol detox can cause rapid changes in mood, including irritability, anger, and agitation.

  • Cognitive impairment

Alcohol detox can affect cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and decision-making.

  • Psychosis

In severe cases, alcohol detox can cause psychosis, a mental health condition characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.

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Detox Options

There are several options for managing alcohol detox, including inpatient medical detox, outpatient medical detox, and natural detox at home. Regardless of the detox option you choose, it is important for individuals to follow the guidance of a medical or treatment professional and to have a plan in place for aftercare and long-term recovery.

Inpatient medical detox

Inpatient medical detox involves staying in a hospital or treatment facility where individuals can receive round-the-clock medical supervision and support. Inpatient medical detox allows individuals to receive immediate medical attention if needed and can be an effective way to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.

Outpatient medical detox 

Outpatient medical detox involves visiting a treatment facility on a regular basis for medical supervision and support while continuing to live at home. This option may be recommended for individuals with less severe alcohol addiction or those who have a supportive home environment. As you will read below, our clients are typically women drinking around 1-3 bottles of wine (or equivalent per day), or binge drinkers, and in patient or out patient detox isn’t generally necessary.

Natural detox at home

Natural detox at home involves quitting alcohol without the assistance of a medical professional. It is important for individuals to seek medical supervision and support during alcohol detox to ensure their safety and increase their chances of a successful recovery.

Clients of The Alcohol Coach who work with Michaela are generally high functioning women who manage their lives on a daily basis. Many drink between 1 and 3 bottles of wine daily, and are able to stop drinking without any significant physical impact. Minor flu-like symptoms may present as the toxins are naturally removed from the body.

Aftercare and Recovery

After completing alcohol detox, it is essential for individuals to continue with follow-up care and treatment to increase their chances of long-term recovery. Continuing treatment after detox can help individuals address any underlying issues or challenges that may have contributed to their substance use, as well as develop coping strategies and support systems to prevent future relapse.

There are several options for follow-up care and treatment after alcohol detox, including therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment. Therapy can be an effective way for individuals to explore the underlying causes of their substance use and develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, emotions, and other triggers. 

Support groups can provide a sense of community and accountability, as well as offer a safe space to share experiences and learn from others who are also in recovery. Medication-assisted treatment involves the use of medication to help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms, often in combination with therapy and support groups.

Let’s Recap

The length of alcohol detox can vary based on a number of factors, including the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, the age and overall health of the individual, the presence of underlying medical conditions, and the use of other drugs or substances. It is important to seek professional help for alcohol detox and to follow up with appropriate aftercare for the best chance at a successful recovery.

For individuals seeking support during alcohol detox, The Alcohol Coach offers a program focused on positivity and empowerment rather than deprivation. If you are ready to end your dependency on alcohol and minimize withdrawal side effects, consider enrolling with The Alcohol Coach today. Our program provides a holistic approach to recovery, including support and guidance through the detox process and tools and resources to maintain long-term sobriety.

Editor’s Note:

In this article, you might notice that we use ‘labels’ such as “alcoholic”, “disease”, and other identifiers that are used to link individuals together by their habits with alcohol. Though they are used colloquially, we believe them to perpetuate limiting beliefs.  

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A key tenet of The Alcohol Coach is that the way to overcome alcohol addiction is through empowerment, not retreating into a space of powerlessness or victim status. 

So, even though we may use these terms to communicate a point as it is known by the general public, keep in mind that our core beliefs dictate that these terms be avoided as much as possible.


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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