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What You Need to Understand About the Alcohol Detox Timeline

Detoxing from alcohol is not always an easy process, and you should know what you’re getting into before you jump in. Let’s talk about withdrawal symptoms and lay out an alcohol detox timeline so you know what to expect and when to expect it.

Man wondering what the alcohol detox timeline is

Withdrawal Symptoms To Expect

Everybody’s bodies and addictions are completely different. You’ve drank a different amount than others, you have different diets and lifestyle habits, and you have different genetics. How your body will react to detoxing from alcohol is unsure.

However, there are many common alcohol withdrawal symptoms that people experience, and they do fall into a rough detox timeline, giving you an idea of what to expect. Some symptoms are minor, and some are very serious and dangerous which is why it’s important to seek a medical alcohol detox center. Here are some common ones to prepare for.


Within as little as 6 to 24 hours after your last drink, you could be expecting to face some minor withdrawal symptoms. There will replicate the feeling of being sick. Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting

There are many more minor symptoms you could experience, but these are some of the most common. Symptoms can also get very severe and even deadly.


Alcohol withdrawal, especially for long-term addicts, is a serious process that can cause serious harm to your body. Severe symptoms could include hallucinations, delusional thinking, and even seizures. In extreme cases, alcohol withdrawal may result in complications leading to death.

Your risk of severe symptoms increases if you are middle-aged or elderly, if you drink large amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, if you have an abnormal liver function, or if you’ve been drinking heavily for a long period of time.

Alcohol Detox Timeline

At the very beginning, you’re unlikely to feel anything. If you’ve been drinking excessively for a long period of time, your body is used to taking breaks, at the very least when you’re asleep. However, you will likely start experiencing the first symptoms anywhere between 6 and 24 hours.

In your first 6 to 12 hours, you are likely to begin experiencing anxiety and cravings, along with some other mild symptoms that were previously mentioned.

Let’s say that you’re used to beginning your drinking at 4 pm. When that time begins approaching, you’re likely to start experiencing cravings. A lot of this is psychological, especially if you know that you’re trying not to drink. This is the first obstacle to overcome.

After 24 Hours

You should be expecting the peak of your symptoms to come between 24 and 72 hours. Between 24 and 48 hours, you should expect your mild withdrawal symptoms to worsen. Headaches, vomiting, high blood pressure, fever, confusion, nausea, and tremors are common in this period.

In extreme cases, this is where hallucinations and other severe symptoms will occur. 1 out of 8 people will experience hallucinations during the detox process, and this is where it most often begins. If you’re in a high-risk demographic for extreme symptoms, you may want to reach out for help immediately.

After 48 Hours

If you’ve gone through two days without alcohol, congratulations. That’s a major success. It does get easier after this stage, so whatever you do, don’t give up here.

As we said, the peak of symptoms is likely to come between 24 and 72 hours after your last drink, so you may not be on the ride down yet.

Hallucinations, seizures, and other serious complications are still likely at this time for certain people. Again, if you believe you’re at risk of serious symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

After 72 Hours

Guess what! You made it through the hardest part, but don’t think you’re done. You will still experience certain symptoms over the coming days, and they should completely subside by the end of 2 weeks after your last drink.

If you have made it this far, medical issues won’t be as big of a concern as psychological issues. Irritability, stress, and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms during this period, with about half of patients experiencing these symptoms.

You may also experience emotional outbursts, low energy levels, sleep issues, memory problems, and more. However, you should be celebrating. You still have a long road ahead of you, but the hardest part is now behind you! Staying sober is the new challenge, and alcohol addiction treatment still isn’t off the table.

What You Can Do

It can be dangerous, even life-threatening, to detox from alcohol on your own. Alcohol detox poses a handful of serious threats to your body, especially if you are at a higher risk for severe symptoms.

The best thing you can do is to seek out professional detox treatment. Not only will it be medically supervised to ensure that the risks of complications are kept to a minimum, but you will also kept away from alcohol or other addictive substances and be given access to the tools you need to stay sober.

There really is no better alternative, and no substitute to inpatient detox and rehab services. These services will likely be covered by your insurance provider, so don’t wait. The sooner you start your road to recovery, the better.

Contact Our Alcohol Treatment Center Today

Now that you know about the alcohol detox timeline, congratulations on taking the first steps toward your journey. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. There are many facilities that can get you the help you need to get sober and stay that way. Contact our addiction treatment center to speak with someone about starting detox.