Alcohol Withdrawal: A Guide to Safely Detoxing

In the United States, people tend to view drinking alcohol as a right of passage. Too many forget that this substance is in fact an addictive drug.

Research reveals that over 85 percent of adults will use alcohol at some point in their lives. While some may enjoy it casually, others will suffer the detriments of alcoholism.

If you or a loved one falls into the latter, you can take your life back. But, it will require battling through alcohol withdrawal.

Unlike most types of withdrawal, quitting alcohol can actually kill you if you do not do it properly. This does not mean that you should continue drinking. 

It does mean that you should take extreme care to go through this in a safe way. Keep reading to learn all about alcohol withdrawal and safely detoxing.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawl?

When a person drinks heavily and/or for a prolonged period of time, their body chemistry changes. They begin to depend on alcohol for normal functioning, and without it, they do not feel well.

When you stop drinking, the body will start to experience withdrawal, because of this alteration in chemistry. Alcohol’s depressant effect on the brain wears off, and it sends the nervous system into a frenzy.

Alcohol Withdrawl Timeline

After heavy drinking, the body takes time to reset its equilibrium. People typically experience withdrawal symptoms for about five days or so. This timeline will give you an idea of what to expect after the last drink.

3-4 Hours

Blood alcohol levels drop low. The feeling of intoxication begins to fade. It may go from a good experience to more of a tired feeling. 

6-8 Hours

Around six hours after the last drink, sobriety sets in. The brain and body begin to need alcohol again during this time frame. You will begin to experience mild withdrawal symptoms.

12-48 Hours

The withdrawal symptoms worsen and discomfort grows during this time. With a blood-alcohol level of zero, the brain chemistry feels entirely out of whack and amps up the fight or flight response in the sympathetic nervous system. Around 18 to 24 hours in, the withdrawal symptoms will approach the peak.

48-72 Hours

The body begins to feel the full effects of alcohol’s absence. During this time, body systems may not function correctly. They may experience hallucinations. 

During this time period, you should watch for signs of Dimerium Tremens (DT). A person can actually die from this.

5-7 Days

Symptoms of withdrawal may finally begin to subside. You may notice that appetite picks back up. During this time, people still need proper medical surveillance.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Depending on the amount you drank and how long you drank for, withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly unpleasant to debilitating. Typical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Heart palpitations

These symptoms create discomfort until the body gets back into equilibrium. But, sometimes more serious symptoms can occur that require medical attention.

A serious condition called delirium tremens can occur. More severe signs of alcohol withdrawal from this condition include serious mental confusion, hallucinations, high fevers, and seizures. 

Can You Detox At Home?

While you can stay home and quit drinking alcohol, you probably should opt against this decision. At home, you will not have immediate access to everything you may need. A professional detox facility can help you with comfort and the care you need.

How to Safely Detoxify

Though withdrawing sounds uncomfortable, scary, and even dangerous, continuing to drink still creates a worse situation. The goal is to detoxify from alcohol in a safe way. Follow this guide to get yourself or your loved one through withdrawal.

Make the Choice

To stop drinking, you must choose that you will not drink. Making this decision is critical.

Or else, you leave leeway to grab a drink when withdrawal feels too uncomfortable. Decide that you will not drink again, no matter what.

Remove Alcohol From Your Environment

Do not leave alcohol where you can easily access it. Once you decide never to drink again, remove the temptation. Do not make failure an easy option.

Call for Detox and Treatment

Call for professional help. Go to the detox facility right away, so that you do not put yourself into a dangerous position at home. 

When you arrive, they will assess your needs. A medical professional may go over your history, order bloodwork, and test your physical and mental health.

During detox, they will continually watch your vitals. The point is to keep you safe and as comfortable as possible with proper care and medications.


Do not lie to the doctors at detox. They need to know the truth about your mental and physical health history, when you last drank, how long you drank for, how much you drank, any other substances you took, and how you currently feel. Lying may put you in danger because it could alter your course of care.

Trust that the detox facility knows how to best get you through withdrawal safely. Cooperate with them. This means doing exactly what they recommend during your treatment.

Take Medications On Time

Detoxification from alcohol may require anticonvulsants, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, heart medications, and others. In a facility, they will ensure that you get the correct dose of any medications that you need on time.

Taking them will help keep your body chemistry stabilized as your body gets used to the lack of alcohol. This will reduce your anxiety, stabilize your mood, stop you from having seizures, keep you more comfortable, and prevent cardiac problems.


Through vomiting, sweats, and heightened temperatures, you will need to focus on staying hydrated. Dehydration poses an additional risk to a person who is detoxing. 

You may find drinking large amounts of fluid at once difficult. Try to take small sips throughout the day. Eating popsicles or ice chips may feel better.

Safely Detoxing Saves Lives

Attempting to detox without the proper care can result in continued drinking, serious health problems, or death. Safely detoxing means the opportunity to rehabilitate and live better than before.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism, we can help. Let us assist you through the detox process and rehabilitation. Contact us and start your insurance verification now.