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
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
- 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…
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…
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
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.