Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline | Harmony Recovery Center

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline – We often hear about how risky or downright dangerous alcohol can be – and it certainly is. Still, we rarely hear about the advantages of remaining abstinent from alcohol altogether.

The Benefits of Abstinence

  • Improved absorption of vitamins and minerals
  • More efficient metabolism that aids in weight loss
  • Diminished risk of cancer
  • Diminished risk of stroke
  • Diminished risk of heart failure
  • Reduction in anxiety and stress
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Bolstered immune system
  • Reversal of alcohol-related liver damage

Because an individual’s body is unique, the short- and long-term effects of alcohol abstinence are largely based upon one’s overall physical health and previous duration and frequency of alcohol abuse.

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start just a few hours after the last drink is metabolized and can last for a few days. In the case of very severe alcohol abuse, seizures, tremors, delirium, or even death can occur if alcohol is stopped abruptly. For this reason, medically-supervised detox is recommended to safely sober up, and help cope with the following symptoms:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Shakiness or tremors
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Insomnia

Post-Acute Withdrawal

Thorough elimination of the toxins in alcohol may require up to two weeks or more. Thus, the initial two weeks of recovery are often the most difficult to endure. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Decreased energy or sluggishness
  • Erratic and unprovoked emotions of anger and aggression
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Deepened depression
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares)
  • Reduced libido

Depending on the person, these post-acute withdrawal symptoms can persist in some form for months. Throughout this time, intense cravings for alcohol will likely appear, so a long-term residential stay at a recovery center can be very beneficial. In a medically-supervised recovery facility, residents have no access to alcohol and the environment is not conducive to relapse.

Each person is unique, and their experience with recovery will be so as well. Nonetheless, experts agree that there is a general course and timeline that a newly found sobriety follows.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline to Recovery

12 to 24 hours since the last drink…

Throughout the first day, blood sugar levels begin to normalize. Because of this, it’s crucial to remain hydrated, as well as maintain healthy nutrition by eating fruits and vegetables and avoiding refined sugars and simple carbs.

48 hours since the last drink…

Two days of alcohol withdrawal is equivalent to a milestone. Nevertheless, most people are still plagued by withdrawal symptoms. At this point, the shakiness or dizziness may have set in. On the bright side, your body temperature should be normal, and your blood pressure should be stabilizing.

72 hours since the last drink…

After three days, most former drinkers will experience a cessation of the worst withdrawal symptoms. However, the heaviest drinkers will likely continue to feel sick and shaky.

One week since the last drink…

The quality of your restful sleep should be improving, meaning you should feel more energized throughout the day. Regular alcohol consumption generally causes a chronic state of mild dehydration, so as you restore your body to a properly hydrated state, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis may disappear.

Two weeks since the last drink…

Frighteningly, heavy drinking over the long-term causes the brain to shrink. Thus, after two weeks, the brain begins to slowly recoup its lost volume. Consequently, recovering alcoholics report experiencing a marked improvement in their motor skills. The areas of the brain associated with complex thought are slower to improve, unfortunately.

One month since the last drink…

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline | Harmony Recovery Center

After 30 days, there is a significant improvement in liver function, with liver fat being reduced by up to 15%. With less fat hindering the liver, it is better able to perform its essential function of eliminating toxins from the bloodstream. Likewise, at this point, you may notice a reduction in belly fat and more improvements in skin health as energy levels are continually rising.

If you have yet to make use of residential treatment or another form of sober support, now is a good time to reconsider. There are 12-step programs and other support groups, as well as therapy and counseling designed to strengthen your resolve and minimize the threat of relapse. Tragically, the first six months of recovery is when most relapses occur.

Many people undergo bouts of depression after one month of sobriety. This depression is chemically-induced as the brain readjusts and copes with the void previously filled by alcohol.

Three months since the last drink…

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline | Harmony Recovery Center

Your energy levels will be vastly improved along with the confidence you have in yourself and your dedication to sobriety. Beware, though, that confidence is not arrogance, which leads one to assume they are immune to the temptation to relapse. A smart, confident person in recovery, rather than testing their strength against such triggers, knows to avoid them altogether, unwilling to gamble their life away.

Six months since the last drink…

New sober habits now become second nature, and it takes less mental effort to stay sober and would take more effort to relapse since it’s less practical for your new lifestyle. However, seeking out counseling and support is always smart, since you are not yet out of the woods, so to speak.

The process of recovery may be lifelong, and the more strategic you are about your abstinence, the less chance you have of relapsing.

One year since the last drink…

After one year of sobriety, you’ve probably lost weight around your mid-section – and kept it off. In fact, the average weight loss after a year is 13 pounds. Your risk for mouth, liver, and breast cancer is greatly reduced, and your previously poor liver is now thanking you with ideal function.

Marvelously, brain regions involved in decision-making, problem-solving, imagination, and analysis are all being revived. A noticeable clarity of thought that makes life more easily navigated should now be yours.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline to Recovery: An Alcohol-Free Life

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline | Harmony Recovery Center

Five years of sobriety is a true achievement, and your risk of relapse is less than 15%.

The path to sobriety is anything but easy. Yet, when you fully acknowledge just how much healthier you are in both mind and body, the juice is absolutely worth the squeeze in hindsight. Always remember, though, that you are not alone in your struggle – help is available.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

You can begin your road to recovery now by seeking help. Our center offers comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment in both inpatient and intensive outpatient formats. Both tracks include psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, and participation in group support.

In addition, we offer holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and art and music therapy which have been shown to improve outcomes when used in conjunction with therapy and counseling.

Finally, patients can take advantage of our aftercare planning services which help patients locate resources such as therapists and counselors outside of the center for long-term recovery support.

Recovery from alcohol begins with just a single step – acknowledging you have a problem and seeking help. Ask yourself, where could you be in six months? A year? You could still be suffering…or you could be healthier and happier in recovery. Take that first step now!

Take A Look At Our Facility

Our treatment center is a free-standing building in the heart of Charlotte that is both warming and comforting and is supportive of the recovery process.

It comprises of multiple group rooms, therapist and case management offices, medical offices, and more. All of our clinical and medical services, from the point of intake and assessment to discharge, are delivered at our treatment center.

At Harmony Recovery, we offer a multitude of different Addiction Treatment Programs in Charlotte that are able to help treat those struggling with addictions to some of the most dangerous substances.

You May Also Like:

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol | Harmony Recovery Center

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol – Consuming too much alcohol can have dramatic effects on one’s health and overall well-being. Liver disease, hypertension, heart arrhythmia, pancreatitis, and several types of cancer are all associated with the long-term misuse of alcohol.

Moreover, drinking more than the recommended daily allowance (1-2 drinks for women and men, respectively) can result in the development of at least sixty different diseases and significantly impact one’s mental health and social life as well.

Physical Effects

Alcohol dependence – Abusing alcohol for an extended period can lead to a condition known as dependence. Dependence occurs when the brain adapts to the presence of a substance, such as alcohol, and becomes unable to function correctly without it. This results in unpleasant and possibly life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when the person attempts to quit or cut back, often compelling him or her to relapse to avoid these effects.

Alcohol tolerance – Tolerance develops as a result of the brain’s propensity to reduce the effects of a psychoactive substance over time – moreover, “repeated exposure = diminished response.” When this occurs, the user is compelled to consume increasing amounts of the substance in order to achieve the desired effect.

Tolerance is dangerous and ill-suited for a healthy life for several reasons. For one, consuming alcohol in higher amounts becomes correspondingly riskier concerning health, mental, and social effects. Along with this comes an increased chance of death due to alcohol poisoning. And finally, there are financial repercussions – money spent on alcohol and legal issues or other problems related to alcohol abuse.

Liver cirrhosis – The liver is instrumental in the process of alcohol metabolism. Repeated overuse of alcohol can lead to the liver becoming damaged and replaced by scar tissue. Over time, the liver may become unable to heal itself or perform its normal functions, leading to life-threatening problems and end-stage liver disease.

Cancer – Drinking alcohol at high levels is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. Exceeding the daily limit of alcohol, even by just a small amount, can lead to a higher risk of developing the following cancers:

  • Mouth
  • Pharynx
  • Oesophagus
  • Larynx
  • Breast
  • Stomach
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Liver

Hypertension – Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can increase blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Having more than three drinks in one session raises blood pressure temporarily, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term increases.

Injuries – Intoxicating effects of alcohol can result in numerous injuries from falls or misadventure – bruising, broken bones, etc. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is involved in up to 30% of adult hospital admissions, particularly those to emergency departments.

Mental Effects

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol | Harmony Recovery Center

Alcohol is a depressant and using alcohol as a means to self-medicate often leads to the opposite effect of what a person intends. Alcoholism can increase depression, anxiety, and exacerbate symptoms of pre-existing mental illness such as bipolar and borderline personality disorders.

What’s more, alcohol use interferes with medications such as antidepressants that are intended to treat mood disorders, and can also be very dangerous when used in conjunction with other central nervous system depressants, such as benzodiazepines.

Brain Damage

People who consume large amounts of alcohol for an extended period have an increased risk of developing severe and persistent changes in the brain. For example, people who suffer from alcoholism (up to 80%) often have a deficiency in thiamine (B1), an essential nutrient required by all tissues in the body, including the brain.

Some of these individuals will go on to develop a serious brain disorder such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), a disease that is characterized by two separate syndromes, a short-term but severe condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a long-lasting and highly debilitating illness known as Korsakoff’s psychosis.

The symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy include confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes, and impaired muscle coordination.

Social Effects

When alcohol becomes a common feature of someone’s life, it’s not just the person drinking that feels the impact. Those close to him or her, such as family and friends, are affected as well. Drinking habits and problematic behavior become a source of arguments and frequently result in relationship conflicts.

Financial and legal consequences are also common. And these, in turn, can lead to debt, unemployment, license suspension, and incarceration. Alcoholism also contributes to violence, such as physical and sexual assaults.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol | Harmony Recovery Center

Alcohol addiction is most effectively treated through the use of a comprehensive, evidence-based approach tailored to the individual. Such an approach should include psychotherapy, counseling, group support, and holistic practices such as yoga and meditation.

Our center offers these services in both rehab (inpatient) and intensive outpatient formats. Residents stay with us 24/7 for 30 days or longer while they receive medical and mental health care around-the-clock. Outpatient treatment is beneficial for those who have already completed an inpatient stay while they transition back to society, or need more flexibility to attend to essential life responsibilities.

Our aftercare planning services help patients locate resources outside of the center for ongoing therapy and support after initial treatment has concluded.

Alcohol Withdrawal Vitamins

Alcohol Withdrawal Vitamins: How They Help Cleanse Your System

Alcoholism is a chronic disease defined as a physiological and psychological addiction to alcohol, which occurs gradually from excessive, long-term use that changes brain chemistry.

Upon discontinuation of alcohol use, the body endures withdrawal symptoms such as depression and anxiety, sleeplessness, and fatigue. In severe cases, withdrawal can include hallucinations, irregular heart rate, and an increase in body temperature and seizures that can result in death.

Note: The primary method of managing withdrawal symptoms should be medical and psychological intervention. Vitamins and supplements can help in addition to professional medical care and should not be used as a substitute for physician-monitored treatment.

How Do Vitamins Help Cleanse Your System

Vitamins A and C

Deficiencies of vitamins A and C are prevalent among those who suffer from alcoholism. Vitamin A is essential for vision and central nervous system (CNS) health, and vitamin C helps support the immune system. During alcohol withdrawal syndrome, immune system health is compromised due to additional stress, which impairs normal CNS functioning.

The University of Michigan Health System recommends supplementing with vitamin C to help clear the body of alcohol during initial withdrawal. Also, many people with a vitamin C deficiency report feeling fatigued or depressed.

These feelings are precisely the opposite of what a person wants to experience while also encountering withdrawal symptoms. Research has shown that adding Vitamin C to the diet can help relieve these symptoms.

Vitamin A or beta-carotene supplements can help to correct deficiencies during withdrawal, but due to potential liver damage from alcoholism, should only be used under doctor supervision.

Vitamins B1 and B2

Vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) support cell health by processing nutrients and converting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into usable energy. During alcohol withdrawal, vitamin B1 assists in lessening fatigue, sustaining mental clarity and reducing disorientation.

Vitamin B2 reduces the intensity of headaches and hand tremors related to alcohol withdrawal. Doses of vitamin B1 or B2 surpassing the daily recommended allowance of 1.2 mg are safe to use, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be treated with up to 25mg per day doses. However, consuming excess doses of vitamin B1 should only occur under medical supervision.

Vitamins B3, B6, and B9

Vitamin B3 (niacin) metabolizes alcohol out of the system and regulates part of the stress hormones of the adrenal glands. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) has a vital role in the production of the neurochemical serotonin, which promotes calmness during feelings of anxiety or depression. This vitamin also helps regulate the hormone melatonin, which induces sleep.

Vitamin B9 (folate) is essential to cellular and brain health. Using vitamins B3, B6 and B9 in excess doses lessens cravings for alcohol and eases tension, as well as insomnia and moodiness.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B3 is 14-16 mg with an upper limit of 35 mg. The recommended vitamin B6 daily intake is 1.4 mg with an upper limit of 100 mg, and vitamin B9 daily intake is 400 mg with a limit of 1,000 mg. Please consult a physician before exceeding the daily dose of these B vitamins for the management of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 has been associated with a myriad of benefits from heart health to easing depression. These fats can be consumed by eating fish, but many people opt for fish oil supplements.

Look for a supplement that contains both EPA and DHA. However, consumption of more than 3 grams of fish oil per day is not advised, as excess can result in blood thinning.


Alcohol impedes the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which creates a problem for women in particular, who are at risk for osteoporosis after excessive drinking. Calcium supplements are the most effective when you’re also getting plenty of vitamin D, so either take this additionally or spend some time in the sun to help your body produce what it needs.

Combination Vitamins

Using a multivitamin or B-complex vitamin during alcohol withdrawal can be beneficial for preventing malnourishment. Alcohol exhausts all soluble vitamins in the body, especially during early withdrawal. Multivitamins can help restore low levels of vitamins that the body desperately needs.

Moreover, vitamin deficiencies are partly responsible for much of the lethargy, memory loss and depression people encounter in the early stages of detox and recovery. A good multivitamin can help optimize the body’s functions and help those going through withdrawals to feel a little more “normal.”

Treatment for Alcoholism

As noted, alcohol withdrawal vitamins should not be used in place of a medical detox and professional treatment and support. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, and as such, all persons are urged to undergo medical supervision during this process.

Research has shown that the best outcomes are achieved when patients recovering from alcoholism participate in a comprehensive, long-term recovery program that includes evidence-based approaches such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our center employs addiction professionals who deliver these services with care and expertise. We provide you the tools you need to achieve abstinence and sustain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

We help people in recovery restore their sanity and relearn how to experience fulfilling lives – contact us as soon as possible to find out how!