More than fourteen million American adults suffer from alcohol use disorder. Of those, fewer than 10% will ever seek or receive help to put struggles with alcohol addiction in the past. Detoxing from the effects of alcohol can be challenging. Without help and support, many who attempt to get sober (“cold turkey”) relapse into old habits when complex withdrawal symptoms become too overwhelming to manage.
Is Alcohol Addictive?
Because alcohol is obtained legally, many people do not stop to consider that it is one of the most addictive drugs available. When people drink alcohol, whether in social settings or as part of a chronic struggle with an alcohol use disorder, the chemicals in alcohol lead to changes in how the brain and body carry out their day-to-day functions. It is not uncommon for these changes to be desirable or even enjoyable, which leads people to continue drinking despite the known harms that alcohol can cause to their physical and emotional health.
In small quantities, drinking alcohol can help you relax, induce calm, and reduce inhibitions in situations where people find that they are nervous or tense. This occurs because drinking alcohol changes how your body produces and releases dopamine into your system. Dopamine is a chemical in your body responsible for controlling specific emotions such as happiness and pleasure. Dopamine also acts as the body’s natural painkiller. Because drinking alcohol causes the body to produce far more dopamine than it would under “normal” circumstances, it leads people to want to drink more often and in higher quantities to ensure the pleasurable feelings brought about by alcohol use do not go away.
Can Alcohol Cause Withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms occur when you try to stop using substances like drugs or alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal also occurs when you try to reduce how much or how often you drink. Most people who seek help to overcome an alcohol addiction will experience some level of withdrawal as their body begins to detox. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the severity of your addiction.
Even if your addiction is mild, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, headaches, irritability, and fatigue. Other symptoms you may experience during alcohol withdrawal include elevated blood pressure, shaking, body tremors, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to a condition called delirium tremens or DTs. Typically, DTs occur in those who struggle with severe alcohol addiction and often experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms. In addition to the mild withdrawal symptoms listed above, DTs may also involve hallucinations, fever, seizures, intense confusion, and potentially life-threatening heart and respiratory effects.
How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol?
The journey to recovery from alcohol addiction will look different for everyone. Each person who enters treatment does so with a combination of unique factors that impact all aspects of their treatment program, including the duration of detox and treatment. In most cases, the first alcohol withdrawal symptoms will begin within six hours after your last drink. Early withdrawal symptoms are generally mild. However, they will intensify during the first two to three days of detox. In general, detox takes between one week and ten days. Because it can be challenging to predict the severity or complexity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it is crucial to detox from alcohol in a safe and supported treatment environment.
However, it is crucial to remember that detoxing from alcohol may take longer for some people than for others. The severity of symptoms, how long each stage of detox persists, and how long it takes to cleanse your body of alcohol depends on several factors unique to your treatment needs and your relationship with alcohol. Some people experience mild symptoms that resolve in a matter of days, whereas others struggle with symptoms like anxiety, sleeping problems, and irritability for several weeks.
How to Find Alcohol Detox Programs
Achieving lasting sobriety from alcohol can be challenging on your own. Without treatment, the withdrawal symptoms that often accompany withdrawal may be overwhelming or dangerous. It is essential to take the first steps towards sobriety at an alcohol detox program like Liberty House Recovery. At our Michigan drug and alcohol rehab, members of our caring and compassionate treatment team are here to help you through all stages of your recovery journey. To learn more about our alcohol detox programs in Michigan, contact us today for more information.