How Do I Detox From Alcohol & How Long Does It Take?

Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances in the world today. Prolonged and severe alcohol addiction can lead to many devastating physical and mental consequences in an individual’s life. The righteous decision one can make for themselves is to choose and end their battle with alcoholism by entering into an effective alcohol abuse recovery program right away. Detox is the first step in this direction.

For people wondering “what is detox”, “how do I detox from alcohol” & “how long does it take”, here are your answers!

What is Detox?

Detox or detoxification is the primary phase of substance abuse recovery. It is basically the time period, post their last drink, that an individual dedicates to cleaning and eliminating all the toxins including alcohol present in their body. The main aim of detox is to comfortably and safely initiate a period of abstinence at the beginning of the recovery process. Once a person is clean, the recovery can commence.

How Do I Detox From Alcohol & How Long Does It Take?

How Do I Detox From Alcohol?

Generally, most of the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal greatly fade after five days of detox, though certain symptoms may persist for a week or longer. At this point, any serious symptoms that are still present should be continually managed at the detox centre. One can successfully detox themselves with the help of:

  • Medically Assisted Detoxification: This involves the monitoring of the patient’s health under professional supervision through the detox phase. It helps to safeguard the individual against the risky and life threatening alcohol withdrawal effects that occur during this phase.
  • Traditional Treatment: This employs therapeutic approaches and offers supportive therapy to the patient that helps to prepare them to get back to everyday life and avoid drinking temptations effectively.
  • Luxury Treatment: These are high quality substance abuse treatment provided in luxury residential rehab facilities where additional focus is placed on the comfort and privacy of the individual. In an executive or luxury program, one can find many amenities like internet access, recreational entertainment, private rooms, and more personalised care. Since alcohol detox, withdrawal and recovery is a very taxing and tedious process, luxury settings can offer some stress relief and support to the alcoholics.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal During Detox?

The First Hours Of Detox

Cravings are the first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and a sure sign that the body is initiating the detox process. These cravings can occur within a few hours of taking the final drink and continue for long through the course of detox. Symptoms like physical sickness, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, nightmares, tremors, irritability, anxiety, depression, increase in blood pressure and heart rate etc., are experienced by the person in the initial hours of detox. These symptoms may progressively worsen throughout the detox process for people suffering from extensive addiction.

The First 2 Days Of Detox

Post the initial hours of detox, more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal start to appear. The symptoms that show up within the first two days of detox can be deadly, as the brain reacts to alcohol exiting the system. These can range from hallucinations to life threatening seizures. Delirium tremens is one of the most dangerous and severe effects of extreme alcohol withdrawal that can also occur in this period. Rapid increase in heart rate, spike in blood pressure and chest ache may also occur. For many individuals, the detox process lasts longer than 48 hours and ones suffering from long standing alcohol addiction may require tight monitoring for many days once the decision for detoxification is taken. Women take a little longer than men to pass through this phase.

The Remaining Detox Phase

After the initial detox symptoms develop, the Detox can continue for many days. It is quite common for people undergoing the detox process to experience increased physical discomfort and heightened cravings. Once these are felt, it is very important to closely monitor and manage the condition of these individuals to prevent any increase in seizure severity.

After the first 48 hours of detox, the risk of seizures lessens in many cases. However, constant medical observation may be needed, as the risk of extreme state of confusion and severe cardiovascular events like heart attack, and even stroke remains high. During this time, even the otherwise insignificant challenges can generate negativity, provoke alcohol cravings and easily trigger a relapse.

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?

It is very important to remember that detox is only the first step on the long path of recovery. Detox marks the sudden ending of alcohol intake and is very vital for the body to rid itself of every hint of alcohol. How long will the alcohol detox process take? Well, there is no “one size fits all” answer to address this question. The detox experience varies from person to person owing to the fact that the detox process is influenced by multiple factors, which make it quite difficult to determine its course accurately. The intensity and severity of the person’s withdrawal during the detox stage is mostly related to the severity, history and duration of the alcohol addiction. Other factors like the person’s age, diet, weight, any other addictions, health conditions, etc. also influence the detox timeline. The detox process usually takes a week to 10 days. Rehab programs, however, generally last for at least 30 to 45 days. Some individuals benefit from 60 day or 90 day stays at inpatient or residential treatment centres.


The withdrawal symptoms during the detox phase usually occur within 48 to 96 hours after the last drink, but occasionally they have a delayed onset. If proper medications, diligent supervision, and supportive care are provided throughout the detox phase and overall abuse recovery process, one can get over their unhealthy alcohol addiction successfully.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 10, 2018

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