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How Long Does it Take to Detox From Alcohol?
Anyone who decides to seek sobriety has to go through a period of detox. This period can differ in time, duration and intensity from person to person based on a number of factors. The health of the individual, the severity of the addiction, and tolerance to symptoms of detoxification can all impact how well they weather this rough period.
Stages of detoxification
In the earliest stages of detox, an addicted person can start experiencing both physical and mental side effects typically around eight hours after consuming the last alcoholic beverage. In some, symptoms may occur earlier or be delayed depending on metabolic levels and general alcohol dependence.
Physical symptoms may involve pain in the abdominal region, nausea, and possibly insomnia. The biggest mental symptom of withdrawal at this point is anxiety. This can range from a creeping sense of paranoia to a strong sense of dread. Those with a history of anxiety tend to suffer from worse symptoms, but even individuals with no prior history can experience these sensations.
At this point, symptoms can usually be dealt with. While possibly causing mild to moderate distress, they are not yet crippling or severe for many.
Within 24 to 72 hours of the last drink, the person starts to enter the middle stage of detox. Again, this can cause both physical and mental symptoms, often more intense than those of the first stage.
Physically, a person could suffer from increased body temperature, an erratic or unusual heart rate, and high blood pressure. Mentally, confusion is a common occurrence. This can range in intensity from mild to moderate. In some cases, the confusion can be quite severe.
It is possible for symptoms from the first stage to continue into this stage, and intensify as other problems appear.
At around two to four days after the last drink, the most severe symptoms can set in. Many of the physical symptoms listed above persist into this stage and may even worsen. Among the new symptoms, serious or life-threatening ones such as seizures and high fever may also make themselves known.
Mentally, this is considered by many recovering addicts to be one of the toughest parts of getting through detox. It is common for a person to suffer from increased agitation. The sufferer may also experience hallucinations, and feel anxious, confused and unable to clearly see the line between hallucinations and reality.
This stage, however, is also often the shortest one. All withdrawal symptoms usually begin to decrease after five to seven days, at which point they should continue to lessen until completely gone.
Though going through detox is often a painful and draining process, it is a big step forward on the road to recovery from alcohol abuse and addiction. It is important to note, however, that this timeline represents the progression of detoxification when it is treated properly. If undergone without appropriate care, it may last weeks and can even prove fatal, making treatment a priority.
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