The Timeline of How Long Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal Take

Alcohol withdrawal is a common issue among individuals who have become dependent on drinking. It occurs when a person suddenly stops drinking and the body is no longer used to the lack of alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity, duration, and severity depending on the individual and how long they have been drinking.

In this blog, we will tackle how long alcohol withdrawal typically lasts and the various symptoms that may accompany it.

What Are the Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal? 

This process is not easy, and understanding the seven stages of alcohol withdrawal and alcohol detox can help you prepare for what is to come.

Stage 1: Early Withdrawal

The first stage of alcohol withdrawal is known as early withdrawal. During this stage, the body begins to go through physical and psychological changes due to the lack of alcohol in the system. Symptoms during this stage may include anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, nausea, sweating, and increased heart rate.

Stage 2: Acute Withdrawal

During this stage, the body begins to experience more intense and severe symptoms such as tremors, seizures, hallucinations, confusion, and fever. It is essential to seek professional medical help during this stage as the symptoms can become life-threatening.

Stage 3: Post-Acute Withdrawal

The body continues to experience physical and psychological symptoms for this part, but they are usually less intense than during the acute withdrawal stage. Symptoms include fatigue, depression, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

Stage 4: Extinction

The fourth stage of alcohol withdrawal is known as extinction. During this stage, the body has fully adjusted to the lack of alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms have subsided. However, the individual may still experience cravings for alcohol.

Stage 5: Post-Extinction

The fifth stage is known as post-extinction. During this stage, the individual has adjusted to life without alcohol and can lead a relatively everyday life. However, the person may still experience occasional cravings.

Stage 6: Maintenance

The sixth stage is known as maintenance. During this stage, the individual must abstain from alcohol and adhere to a healthy lifestyle. This covers eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and attending therapy sessions or support groups.

Stage 7: Relapse Prevention

The seventh and final stage is known as relapse prevention. During this part, the individual must continue to take steps to prevent a relapse into alcohol use. This includes attending therapy sessions or support groups, avoiding triggers that could bring you to a relapse, and learning ways to cope with cravings or other forms of stress. It is important to remember that relapse prevention is an ongoing system that requires dedication and commitment.

3 Things That May Influence Your Alcohol Detox Timeline

Here are three things that may influence your alcohol detox timeline.

1. Alcohol Consumption History

The amount of alcohol you consume will majorly affect how long it takes to detoxify. Those who have been drinking heavily for years will take longer to detoxify than those who have only recently started drinking. Additionally, people with a history of drinking binges are likely to take longer to detoxify than those who drink more regularly.

2. Your Overall Health

Your overall health is crucial in determining the length of your alcohol detox timeline. Those with underlying health issues or who are in poor physical health may take longer to detox from alcohol than those who are in better health. It’s essential to speak to your doctor about any underlying health issues before starting an alcohol detox program.

3. The Severity of Your Addiction

The addiction’s severity will determine the length of time required to detox. If you have been drinking heavily for an extended period, your body will likely need more time to process the alcohol and remove it from your system. 


The alcohol detox timeline can vary greatly depending on the individual’s health status. It’s essential to speak with a doctor or a professional to ensure the detox process is done safely and effectively. Remember that alcohol detox should not be attempted without professional help, as it can be a difficult process.

The American Addiction Institute of Mind & Medicine is a leader in Orange County IOP drug rehabilitation and provides a comprehensive range of services for those struggling with addiction. Our expertise in medication-assisted treatment and intensive outpatient programs offers individuals the best chance at recovery. If someone you know needs alcohol detox in Orange County, contact us for more information. 

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