Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: A Guide To Detox Symptoms

A VISUAL GUIDELINE that outlines common alcohol withdrawal symptoms by day and week.

3
minute read

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occur in someone who is alcohol dependent. These symptoms manifest after a person completely stops or significantly decreases their drinking. This condition raises several questions:

  1. What are alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
  2. When does a certain symptom occur?
  3. How long does the alcohol withdrawal process last?

Explore our detailed  alcohol infographic to learn the answers to these questions! If you like our graphic, feel free to print or copy the graphic for your clinical practice, counseling space, or school room. The embed code is right under the image for digital sharing.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: A Guide To Detox Symptoms

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Finally, if you have any questions about the timeline of alcohol withdrawal, leave them in the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all real-life questions personally.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

The onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually starts 6-14 hours after the last drink. In fact, detox occurs in real time as a person’s blood alcohol level is decreasing. Once detox begins, alcohol withdrawal duration may last from around 5-14 days, depending on how long the person has been drinking.

Moreover, alcohol withdrawal can be very severe. In most cases, it’s uncomfortable. In other cases, an alcohol withdrawal can be serious, even deadly. This is why  it’s always recommended that a person treat these symptoms with medical help.

Below is a detailed list of the most common withdrawal symptoms with a timetable of their appearance:

0-72 hours after the last drink:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors

2-5 days after you stop drinking:

  • Agitation
  • Autonomic instability
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium tremens *
  • Gross tremor
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

5-14 days into alcohol withdrawal:

  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Nervousness
  • Shakiness

Serious Alcohol Symptoms Timeline

More serious withdrawal symptoms occur in approximately 10% of people going through alcohol withdrawal. These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased pulse
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizure
  • Tremors

* Delirium tremens (‘the Dts’) is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It usually occurs 2-5 days after stopping or reducing alcohol consumption. The severe symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Instability
  • Hallucinations

NOTE: Medical assistance is needed to treat this state of the body and mind.

How Long To Withdrawal From Alcohol?

How long does it take to withdrawal from alcohol? The length of alcohol withdrawal depends on personal factors such as:

  • Person’s general health
  • Level of dependence
  • Age
  • Gender
  • How much they were drinking
  • How long they were drinking

… etc.

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Alcohol PAWS Timeline

Usually, alcohol withdrawal symptoms resolve within 5-14 days, but some symptoms can persist for weeks and months after the last drink. This subset of symptoms is know as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Decreased energy
  • Depression
  • Reduced sexual interest
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tremors

How can you treat alcohol withdrawal? The safest way to address these symptoms is with medical intervention.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline Questions

Do you still have questions about alcohol withdrawal? Feel free to post them in the comments section below. We try to respond to all inquiries personally and promptly.

And if you are ready to walk into the alcohol recovery shoes, call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820.

Reference sources: NIAAA: Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal
NCBI: Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders
NIAAA: Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal
Medline Plus: Alcohol withdrawal
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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