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How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Alcohol Withdrawal

I bet it might surprise you to learn that, out of all the addictive substances out there, alcohol can be the hardest and most dangerous to withdraw from! The fact is, if you’ve become alcohol dependent, deciding to stop drinking cold turkey will leave you experiencing some symptoms which are pretty unpleasant.

Factors like age, genetics, and your general physical condition will play a role in determining the severity of the withdrawal symptoms you experience. But the biggest factors will be: the amount of alcohol you’ve been drinking, the duration of time you’ve been drinking at that level, and the amount of times, you’ve put your body through the often traumatic process of withdrawal.[1][2]

It’s for this reason that we always suggest alcohol detoxes are done under medical supervision, because sadly, depending on the extent of the factors above, a poorly executed withdrawal can, at times, be fatal.

If that is not possible, then at the very least we suggest that you speak with your medical practitioner and take some of the supplements and vitamins proven to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Dihydromyricetin has been discovered to be one of those supplements.

If you’re goal is to stay alive and well, but no longer addicted to alcohol, the following guide will give you a step-by-step timeline of what you may expect to experience.

6 - 12 Hours After Last Drink

This is when you’re at your most vulnerable, and most likely to have a relapse if not supported. The symptoms experienced at this stage aren’t usually life threatening, but they can be difficult and painful to endure. Although slightly different for everyone, you can expect to experience:

Like we said earlier, the severity of these symptoms can differ depending on your drinking history and health profile. But in the most severe cases, these symptoms can appear as early as two hours after your last alcoholic drink is consumed.

A quick word on cravings. It’s natural that you will experience cravings throughout your withdrawal, and most likely long after most of the physical symptoms have ended. This is why many people with alcohol dependency issues choose to seek further ongoing support from alcohol agencies, their medical practitioner, or non-affiliated groups such as AA.

12 – 24 Hours After Last Drink

Now we don’t want to scare you, but at this stage, you can expect your withdrawal to typically progress into a more serious state. In addition to the symptoms we mentioned above, the following reactions are not uncommon. That’s why, where possible, we recommend that alcohol detoxes are done under supervised supported conditions, as I’m sure you’ll agree some of these symptoms could be tough to endure alone.

1 - 2 Days After Last Drink

This is the time that many people dependent on alcohol struggle with the most. The negative symptoms of withdrawal are at their peak, and their body is crying out for their substance of choice. I’m going to assume if you’re reading this, that would be alcohol. Sadly, it’s also this phase that can be the most dangerous and result in severe seizures, or worse, death. [3]

Remember those symptoms we discussed in the first 24 hours? Well these are unlikely to have diminished at this stage, in fact, you may find that they actually increase as your body eliminates the excess alcohol and toxins it’s been overwhelmed with. Don’t make plans. Don’t expect to feel good. Just accept that this is part of the process.

2 Days - 2 Weeks After Last Drink

Congratulations, you’re over the biggest hurdle. Your symptoms should have begun to decrease in severity, and you may be feeling ready to face the world again. If you have a prolonged serious history of alcohol abuse, however, you may need a little longer to fully overcome the worst of your withdrawal symptoms. It’s not uncommon that you may experience a heavier withdrawal than someone with a lesser history. In fact, it may take between 4 to 12 days after the last drink has been consumed, before things start to subside for you.

If you’re experiencing prolonged withdrawal, you may be suffering some very intense symptoms like:

  • Potent hallucinations that are indistinguishable from reality. [3]
  • Severe confusion. [3]
  • Continued seizures. [4]
  • High Blood Pressure. [4]
  • Fever

Protracted Withdrawal (2+ Weeks After Last Drink)

For the vast majority of people, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will have almost completely dissipated within two weeks of consuming their last drink. Quite often the mental cravings and psychological dependency will still be present, but the physical dependency will have subsided. Sometimes, however, alcoholics develop what is known as protracted withdrawal.

This condition can persist for up to one year after you’ve consumed your last drink, and while not life threatening, these symptoms don’t make for a comfortable time. Expect to experience things, like: [6]

  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure normally)
  • Disorientation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

If you’ve been deprived of sleep for a few days, you know how difficult it is function optimally. Insomnia is one the most common symptoms people experiencing protracted withdrawal have to cope with. Sadly, insomnia has also been found to significantly increase your chances of relapse. [6]

You may have been prescribed a sleep aid to help combat this, but have found the effects not as helpful as you require? One cause for this is, many common sleep aids work on the same GABA-A receptors as alcohol, and therefore will be cross tolerant. Trazodone is one sleep aid which has been found to works on different receptors, and may be useful for those suffering from protracted withdrawal related insomnia. [7]

Treating Alcohol Withdrawal

Dihydromyricetin [8] and folate [9], among other vitamins and supplements, have been shown to decrease the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. If you’re suffering with alcohol withdrawal, or would simply like a way to continue drinking enjoyably (but sensibly) without terrible hangovers, I’d encourage you to give Dihydromyricetin a try. You can grab a small tester sample here. But if you’re ready to quit drinking, reduce your drinking, or banish hangovers and poor performance, we’d recommend you grab a full size bottle, here.

Cited Studies

  1. Alcohol withdrawal in the elderly
  2. Kindling in Alcohol Withdrawal
  3. Emotional condition in alcohol withdrawal acute psychosis
  4. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
  5. Benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal in the elderly and in patients with liver disease
  6. Alcohol protracted withdrawal syndrome: the role of anhedonia
  7. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy of trazodone in alcohol post-withdrawal syndrome: polysomnographic and clinical evaluations
  8. Dihydromyricetin As A Novel Anti-Alcohol Intoxication Medication
  9. Folate and Alcohol Withdrawal

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