If you’ve been drinking large amounts of alcohol for quite some time, the negative effects of your drinking are probably easy to identify. Excess alcohol consumption can leave you feeling foggy-headed, nauseous, unfocused, and tired. It can lead to high blood pressure, joint pain, widespread inflammation, and countless forms of chronic disease.
When people abuse alcohol, the consequences of their actions tend to affect all aspects of their health and lives. Their personal relationships flounder and fall apart, their careers suffer, and they may find themselves facing serious legal issues. If you’ve continued to drink despite experiencing these things, you may be inspired to stop by the progressive deterioration of your physical well-being.
Alcohol addiction accelerates the aging process, darkens the whites of the eyes, and overwhelms the heart and liver. People are often seen as having reached their personal “rock bottom” when they find themselves sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. When you’re ready to quit drinking alcohol, you may wonder what happens when you quit drinking.
What Happens When You Quit Drinking?
Fear of detoxing can keep people from taking the critical step of seeking treatment. After all, alcohol detox is undeniably the most challenging part of getting sober, even as it remains the most important. How the body reacts to alcohol detox is both physically and emotionally unpleasant. However, the effects of detoxing can also be surprisingly good. Even as your mind and body undergo the difficult process of adjusting to life without drinking, you’re guaranteed to experience an increasingly strong sense of accomplishment, confidence, and strength.
With each hour and day that passes, you’ll be overcoming mental and physiological hurdles that you’ll never have to leap again. Your energy levels will rise, your thoughts will become clearer, and you’ll discover that life is both brighter and infinitely more enjoyable when you aren’t intoxicated. Detoxing is the first step in asserting your authority over your own life, and in reclaiming your personal freedom. Moreover, much like the consequences of alcohol addiction, the benefits of quitting drinking are progressive.
At Recovery Bay Center, we think it’s important for all patients and prospective patients to understand the typical alcohol detox timeline, and to have a clear understanding of what lies ahead. This sets feasible expectations for treatment and ensures that recoveries aren’t being sidelined by fear of the unknown.
How Long Alcohol Withdrawal Typically Lasts and What It Entails
The side effects of alcohol withdrawal can be different for everyone. However, detoxing and its effects are usually most severe when people attempt to tackle this process on their own. If you drink heavily, routinely consume hard liquor, or have been drinking for an extended period of time, going “cold turkey” at home isn’t safe. During the initial stages of withdrawal, you may feel:
As abstinence is prolonged, these feelings can intensify. People may begin to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. They can also start to feel agitated, anxious, fearful, and restless. When alcohol detox isn’t properly managed, many individuals develop delirium tremens. This is a serious and severe form of alcohol withdrawal that is typically experienced during the second or third day of abstinence. The symptoms of delirium tremens can include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fluctuations in heart rate
Alcohol Detox and Medication-Assisted Treatment
When you choose to complete your detox at Recovery Bay, you can sidestep the discomfort and dangers of delirium tremens entirely. We offer medically-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT detox gives patients access to medications that can trick the body into believing that it’s still receiving the substance it’s become dependent upon, even as it continues to rid itself of alcohol and its harmful by-products.
With MAT, all of the side effects of alcohol withdrawal are greatly minimized, and many are avoided altogether. MAT detox also expedites the return to mental clarity, mood balance, and general peace of mind. This gives recovering alcoholics a greater opportunity to relax in the treatment environment and to plan and prepare for the rehab therapies and other addiction services that lie ahead.
The alcohol detox timeline can be different for every individual. Some of the factors that will affect the length of your detox include the amount that you drink, the amount of time that you’ve been using alcohol, and whether or not you’ve tried to detox before. When the liver and other filter organs are in an optimal state of functioning, they’ll have the best ability to rid the body of alcohol and its byproducts.
The more abuse that these organs have sustained, and the more stress that they’re under at the time of your detox; the longer and more challenging this process is likely to be. In general, however, most people will stop experiencing the side effects of alcohol withdrawal within just four to six days of their last drinks.
The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often begin to manifest within just six hours of a person’s last drink. The intensity of your initial symptoms will continue to progress for up to 48 hours. During your second and third day of detox, is the time when your body is most likely to enter into delirium tremens, especially if you aren’t enrolled in a MAT detox treatment. By the fourth day of abstinence, most detox symptoms will naturally abate. With the right help, the challenges of detox can be both shorter in duration and significantly less severe.
When you want to quit drinking alcohol and find yourself wondering what happens when you quit drinking, it’s important to focus on the positive aspects of abstaining. Alcohol is a toxin. Once this toxin enters your bloodstream, it has a negative impact on every organ and organ system in the body.
After you’ve detoxed and your body begins to heal itself, you’ll enjoy greater mood balance, easier weight management, higher levels of energy, and increased mental focus. Your confidence will grow. You’ll also have brighter eyes, younger-looking skin, and a vastly improved appearance overall.
Ready to Get Help for Alcohol Addiction?
If you’re ready to experience the widespread and ongoing benefits of quitting drinking, we can help. Call us now to learn more about our medically assisted detox programs, and our options in mental health support and residential addiction treatment.