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How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Take?
The moment you stop drinking, your body starts the process of cleansing itself of the chemicals and substances associated with alcohol. This means that when you quit drinking, you could start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within as soon as two hours after the last drink. Depending on how much you used to drink and how frequently, withdrawal could take anything from 7 to 10 days to complete. If you are unlucky enough to suffer from post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), you could experience symptoms for up to a year after the last drink.
As your body has become physically dependent on the alcohol, you will need to withdraw from all alcohol products. This could include products such as mouthwash, flu medication and cough syrup. However, when withdrawal does begin, there could be severe physical consequences attached, meaning you should not go through the process without medical supervision. A doctor or registered nurse can supervise and monitor your mental and physical health throughout and administer medication when required to help relieve pain and discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms as well as help to curb the cravings.
What Is the Withdrawal Timeline?
Your withdrawal will be dependent on how heavily and frequently you drank alcohol; you could experience all, some, or only one of the following withdrawal symptoms:
First phase: 6 to 12 hours after the last drink:
- nausea and vomiting
These symptoms could persist for longer or subside quite soon. The next phase is 12 to 24 hours after the last drink:
- hand tremors
The next phase is 48 hours after the last drink:
- high blood pressure
- fever and excessive perspiration
- DTs, or delirium tremens (in severe cases).
Once again, the entire process should be carried out under the supervision of a medical professional who can provide you with medication and other medical support for when you experience a medical crisis due to your withdrawal. Some of the symptoms may persist for several days and could vary from one minute to the next. You could have mild symptoms now and severe symptoms a small while later. Always rely on your medical professional to guide you as to when it will be safe for you to leave the facility after going through withdrawal.
Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Within a few months after your last drink, you could experience sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms. This is called acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome. When this happens, you should be admitted to a hospital or a specialised rehab with the facilities to deal with these symptoms. Symptoms could include seizures, temporary loss of consciousness, and/or DTs. These symptoms can be very severe and are therefore considered life threatening. You will need medical attention immediately if and when they occur. Your medical professional can monitor your health on a regular basis in a hospital and give you medication to deal with the severity of the symptoms.
There are side effects to this syndrome and you could suffer these for up to a year after taking your last drink. These side effects include:
- low energy
- trouble sleeping
- emotional outbursts and irritability
- delayed reflexes
- a proneness for accidents
- memory problems.
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