Alcohol Detox

What is Alcohol Detox?

Quitting alcohol may not be as easy as drinking that last drop. Those who drink regularly may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms once they quit. These symptoms can be mild to severe, and even deadly to those highly dependent on alcohol. For those with alcoholism, these withdrawal symptoms make sobriety a difficult task. That’s why many rehab centers implement alcohol detoxification procedures in their practices.

Time to Detox.
What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when regular drinkers stop consuming alcohol for a prolonged period of time. Typically, these symptoms start 8 hours after the last drink. For some, however, the symptoms may be delayed, and begin days after alcohol cessation.

The severity of alcohol dependence determines how harsh the withdrawal symptoms are. Typically, symptoms are at their worst between one and three days after quitting. For those that are highly dependent, the most intense symptoms may last for weeks.

Symptoms can affect both the mind and the body. While these symptoms are typically harmless, severe alcohol withdrawal can produce symptoms that are damaging.


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Physical symptoms include:

Dilated pupils

Clammy skin




Loss of appetite


Rapid heart rate



Mental symptoms include:







Mood swings

Cloudy thoughts

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal (Delirium Tremens)

For those who have been highly dependent on alcohol for a long period of time, severe alcohol withdrawal may occur. This severe form of withdrawal is called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can be deadly if not properly monitored.

Delirium tremens typically affects heavy drinkers who stop drinking abruptly. Those who drink 4-5 pints of wine, 7-8 pints of beer, or one pint of liquor daily for several months are at a high risk of developing delirium tremens. Those who have regularly drank for more than 10 years are also susceptible to delirium tremens.

Delirium tremens causes severe changes in the nervous system. Symptoms tend to get worse quickly, which can make the withdrawal fatal if not treated properly. In addition to the typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens can cause:



-Prolonged sleep (lasting for more than a day)


 *Seizures may occur without the presence of other symptoms. They commonly occur within the first 12 to 48 hours after the last drink.

Because of the rapid changes in severity, those experiencing delirium tremens should always be monitored by health professionals.

The Detox Process

Alcohol detoxification is the process of quitting alcohol, experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and returning the body to a non-alcohol dependent state. Detox is HIGHLY recommended to occur while in inpatient care. 

Also See: Alcohol Detox Infographic

Alcohol withdrawals can be physically and mentally challenging. Inpatient rehab centers allow alcohol dependents to detox in the care of medical professionals. During inpatient detox, patients are constantly supervised to ensure that any complications are taken care of as soon as they occur.

During detox, medical professionals do the following:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Check electrolyte and body fluid levels
  • Treat severe complications, such as seizures, which can be deadly

Another benefit of inpatient care is that it eliminates the risk of a relapse. While going through withdrawal symptoms, patients may be tempted to drink to relieve themselves of the stress and burden of detox. The vicious cycle of quitting and immediately relapsing is halted in an inpatient setting.

Post-Detox Support

Getting through detox is only the first step of sobriety. Without treating the root of addiction, many alcohol dependents will find themselves relapsing once they walk out the door.

Many addicts have underlying issues that prevent them from leading a prosperous life. These issues are separate from addiction; they may even be the cause of alcohol dependence. Detox can remove the patient from the grips of physical alcohol dependence, but without meaningful support, there is a high chance of relapse.

Inpatient rehab ensures that alcohol dependents are given the skills to prosper after they complete their stay. Through through therapy, group activities, and individual care, every patient is given the tools needed to sustain a healthy, alcohol free life.

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