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How Long Does Alcohol Detox Typically Take?

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Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a detox from alcohol will take. There are a number of factors that can influence the duration of a detox, which means that each individual follows a unique timeline. However, there’s an average schedule for those detoxing from alcohol, and it tends to be approximately seven days. By understanding more about a typical alcohol detox, you can have a better idea of how long it might take for you.

Stage 1: 8 Hours After Alcohol Consumption Ceases

In order to break free from an addiction to alcohol, a detox is a necessity. The detox will officially begin the minute you stop consuming alcohol for good, although the withdrawal symptoms won’t kick in until a few hours later. Generally, alcoholics will begin experiencing their first withdrawal symptoms just eight hours after their last drink.

Because of the logistics of getting to an alcohol detox center, it isn’t unusual for patients arriving to already be thoroughly in the first stage of detox. The withdrawal symptoms may already be apparent. These initial symptoms are generally quite mild, and many alcoholic people could be accustomed to experiencing them on a daily basis between their normal consumption of alcohol.

Stage 2: 24–72 Hours After Detox Begins

The initial stage of an alcohol detox tends to be relatively mild. There may be strong cravings, and withdrawal symptoms are certainly present, but they will really begin in earnest about 24 hours after consumption of alcohol stops. Between the end of day one and the end of day three, or a total of about 48 hours, withdrawal symptoms will gradually worsen.

This is often considered to be the hardest stage of alcohol detoxification for patients. There are strong physical cravings, and the discomfort level may be high. That is why it’s so important to have patients in a medically supervised detox facility where they can have the accountability and support necessary to get through this challenging time of the detox.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms typical for this stage of an alcohol detox include the following:




Abdominal pain


Hot flashes

High blood pressure

High heart rate

Stage 3: 72 Hours is the Peak of Withdrawal Symptoms

Generally, the peak of discomfort and the maximum intensity of withdrawal symptoms occurs around 72 hours after the last sip of alcohol. In many ways, reaching the 72-hour mark can be a milestone, because it means that most patients will begin feeling increasingly better over the next few days. If you think of detox as a hill, 72 hours marks the highest point and the toughest part of the climb.

However, 72 hours after detox has begun, up to 10% of patients will experience DT, or delirium tremens. This is an extreme reaction to an alcohol detox, and it can include extreme confusion, hallucinations and even seizures. If DT does occur, patients will be treated with emergency medical care immediately. The risk of DT is just one more reason why a medical detox is so vital and why withdrawing cold turkey from alcohol can be so dangerous.

Factors That Impact the Length of an Alcohol Detox

It’s also important to keep in mind that the length of a detox from alcohol can vary depending on the severity of the addiction itself. Someone who has been addicted for decades, or who drinks a high volume of alcohol, will experience a longer detox time.

New Start Recovery, with two locations in Orange County, California, offers an alcohol detox program that can help you break free from addiction. Call 855-737-7363 to begin your timeline and enjoy a life of sobriety as soon as possible.