Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may occur as early as a few hours after a person has had their last drink.
These symptoms may reach their peak within 24 to 48 hours after alcohol use has stopped for some individuals but can continue on longer for others.
The alcohol withdrawal timeline may occur in stages that include:
When a person repeatedly uses a substance over time, it causes imbalances in both the brain and body.
Withdrawal is the body’s response to the sudden change and absence of the substance.
When a person experiences withdrawal symptoms, their body is trying to get back into balance.
Some of the most common, early first signs of withdrawal include:
The first day a person stops drinking may feel uncomfortable or unpleasant.
As soon as a person stops drinking, the body starts to adjust to these changes.
Because of this, they can experience withdrawal symptoms within a few hours of stopping drinking.
There is no set amount of time it takes for the body to return to normal after prolonged alcohol use.
This can also rely on a variety of different factors. For some, it can be days, others weeks, and maybe months if a person has experienced significant damage caused by alcohol use.
Experiencing withdrawal from alcohol or any other substance can be different from person to person.
Generally, common symptoms of withdrawal can include the following:
Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:
When a person stops drinking, they may experience increased symptoms of increased anxiety, agitation, and irritability.
All the changes happening in the brain and body can affect a person’s mood and mental well-being.
When a person stops drinking, it can feel very hard, and the emotions that come along may make a person feel like they want to drink again.
It is important to remember that stopping drinking is the best choice for the long run, even if it seems that it would make you feel better temporarily.
Some people may experience anxiety a few hours after drinking or even the day following.
Anxiety can be a withdrawal symptom, and symptoms can last anywhere from days to weeks.
Some people may engage in alcohol use as a way to self-medicate for underlying mental health conditions like anxiety. Doing so can worsen a person’s mental health and can require a person to receive treatment for co-occurring disorders if they are present.
The reason you may feel so tired when you stop drinking is that your body may be adjusting to new changes.
Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from days to weeks, depending on a variety of different factors.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome refers to symptoms that are experienced when a person who has engaged in heavy drinking suddenly decreases or stops alcohol use.
Many people don’t recognize the serious impact alcohol can have on a person’s physical and mental health because it is so commonly used, especially among teens and young adults.
It is important to understand the dangers of alcohol use as well as the signs of alcohol withdrawal to determine if a person needs to seek help or receive medical attention.
Quitting alcohol can feel very difficult at first, as the urge to drink is still present. However, doing so is the best decision in the long run for your health and overall well-being.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, addiction can follow a cycle with three stages.
These stages include:
When a person engages in substance use, it causes changes in the brain and body, causing the brain to adjust.
With continued use, a person may develop a tolerance, meaning they need more and more of the substance to achieve the same effects.
A tolerance may then develop into a dependence, where a person uses a substance just to feel “normal” again.
When someone has a dependency, they will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop engaging in substance use or abruptly decrease their use.
Withdrawal is a response from the body to the absence or sudden decrease of a substance.
During the process of withdrawal, the body is trying to regulate and return to its normal state, resulting in what can be very uncomfortable mental and physical effects.
If you have drunk heavily for a significant period of time, stopping drinking may not be very easy at first. However, it is necessary for your health and well-being.
After stopping drinking, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that may last a few days or a few weeks in severe cases.
You may feel changes in both your body and your mind. Many people report feeling low, depressed, tired, and having problems sleeping.
Stopping drinking can feel very uncomfortable at first, and many people may have cravings or feel the urge to drink again as a way to cope with withdrawal symptoms. However, this will only worsen the situation, even if it seems like an opportunity for temporary relief.
If you are planning on stopping drinking, it is helpful to consult with your healthcare provider or a medical professional who can offer you guidance and medical advice.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur within a day or two of stopping drinking.
In more severe cases, withdrawal symptoms may begin within hours of discontinued alcohol use.
The alcohol withdrawal timeline can depend on a variety of different factors that include:
The effects of alcohol can negatively impact both the brain and the body.
However, when a person quits drinking, the body can begin to heal itself.
The damage that comes from alcohol can impact important systems like the brain, liver, and cardiovascular symptoms. When a person stops drinking, these systems can slowly begin to heal themselves.
A person may see improvements in their skin, sleep, weight, mental health, immune system, and thinking.
Research suggests that it takes around two weeks for the brain to start returning to normal after quitting alcohol.
The recovery journey, however, is unique to each person, so individuals may see improvements in their brain and body health at different points in the process.
The impact of alcohol on a person’s liver can be different based on the individual.
A person’s chances of experiencing liver damage go up the longer you have been drinking and the more alcohol you drink.
According to the American Journal of Gastroenterology, in women, drinking more than five drinks per day was associated with an increased risk of liver cirrhosis.
Some of the first signs of liver damage from alcohol can include:
Typically, the liver can process about an ounce of alcohol every hour.
The time it takes for the liver to process alcohol can also depend on a variety of factors, such as age, body size, or the time since a person’s last drink.
Many experts suggest avoiding drinking alcohol for around 30 days the help the liver get back to its normal function.
If you have concerns about your liver, seek help from your healthcare provider to do blood tests to assess the liver.
Signs your liver is healing from alcohol use can include:
For many people, it may be hard to realize that they have a drinking problem.
Especially because alcohol use is socially accepted, many people don’t see the harm in having a couple of drinks. They often don’t understand the severity of the effects alcohol use can have on a person’s life, health, and well-being.
Signs that a person may be drinking too much alcohol can include:
The NIAAA defines heavy alcohol use as:
Additionally, SAMHSA refers to heavy drinking as binge drinking or more than five or more days in a month.
According to the CDC, a standard drink of wine is 5 ounces.
Binge drinking, in this case, would be consuming four or more 5-ounce glasses of wine on a single occasion for women and five or more glasses for men.
Drinking over this amount can lead to numerous negative effects on an individual’s health.
Drinking a six pack a night is quite a large amount.
Consuming a six-pack a night can result in a significant impact on a person’s health and put a person at risk of facing severe negative effects of alcohol use.
Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of experiencing numerous harmful health conditions.
Excessive drinking can also lead to the development of chronic diseases and other problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, weakened immune systems, learning problems, mental health problems, and alcohol use disorders.
Our goal is to provide the most helpful information. Please reach out to us if you have any additional questions. We are here to help in any way we can.
Naltrexone is a medication approved by the FDA for treating alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder.
It works by blocking the effects and feelings of alcohol and can help reduce alcohol cravings.
However, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider which medications are safe as it is not a recommended MAT option for individuals under 18 years old or who have other health conditions.
Additionally, according to the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, benzodiazepines may be used as a part of treatment for alcohol withdrawal.
The four stages of addiction include:
Alcohol use can have a significant impact on a person’s liver health, along with many other important body systems.
Common signs that may indicate your liver is struggling can include the following:
Four common withdrawal symptoms can include:
It is important to find a treatment center that fits your needs the best.
Each treatment plan is unique, not a one-size-fits-all situation.
A treatment plan for alcohol addiction may include components such as:
A person who is struggling with severe alcohol use and addiction may find inpatient treatment beneficial. Others who may have mild to moderate symptoms but are still in need of support may benefit from an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or day treatment program.
Seeking help for alcohol abuse and addiction is one of the first steps in healing.
SAMHSA has a behavioral health treatment services locator that serves as an anonymous source of information for those seeking mental health or substance use and treatment.
Alcohol withdrawal can be a difficult part of the alcohol addiction recovery journey. Although uncomfortable, stopping drinking will benefit in the long-run. Sandstone Care is here to support teens and young adults with mental health and substance use disorders.