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What Happens During Alcohol Detox?

Teen girl with her eyes closed going through alcohol detox

As some alcohol treatment professional will tell you, an important first step in addressing an alcohol use disorder is admitting that you have a problem. The second step is typically detoxification, which is also known as alcohol detox.

The What and Why of Detox

Detox is the time period that occurs from the time you take your last drink until the point when all of the toxins found in alcohol have left your body. The liver is responsible for detoxifying your body by metabolizing the alcohol so that it can be removed from your system. The process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple weeks.

Detox tends to bring about symptoms of withdrawal as your body fights to rid itself of alcohol. The types and severity of withdrawal symptoms vary by person, but they are influenced by the duration and amount you’ve been drinking prior to detox.

Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms

Many health care professionals recommend that the alcohol detox process take place in a setting where you can be monitored. This is especially true when withdrawal symptoms begin peaking, as a detox setting lowers a person’s risk of injury, experiencing a severe illness or dying. Therefore, you probably shouldn’t try to detox at home or without assistance.

Here’s a rough timeline of a typical detox process.

1. The First Few Hours

You’ll begin to experience cravings for alcohol. You may also feel sick, nauseous, anxious, irritable or depressed. Your mental state may become foggy, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase and you might suffer from diarrhea. In addition, you may notice tremors, struggle with insomnia or have nightmares.

2. The Next Two Days

This is the time when withdrawal symptoms become the most severe, and it’s when your health is in the most danger. It’s possible that you’ll experience hallucinations and dangerous seizures. You may feel chest pain because of your spiking heart rate and blood pressure.

During this phase, some people experience delirium tremens, which is also known as “the DTs.” In addition to hallucinations, seizures and tremors, you may run a fever or sweat profusely, become disoriented or confused, and become agitated or moody.

3. After the First Two Days

In most cases, withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside after the first two days. But you’ll probably still experience cravings, and you might notice other symptoms or psychological side effects for days or even weeks.

After Alcohol Detox

Once the detox process is completed and you start to feel more like yourself, it is vital that you continue the journey on the road to recovery. This usually means scheduling medical appointments, undergoing outpatient treatment or enrolling in a program that specializes in inpatient rehab for teens.

If you avoid or put off this essential next step, you might eventually relapse and begin consuming alcohol again. That means you’ll have to repeat the entire detox process if you decide to quit in the future.

Detox is a daunting challenge for teenagers who want to stop misusing alcohol. But if you have support and the willpower to endure withdrawal symptoms until the alcohol is expelled from your system, you’ll be able to draw strength from that accomplishment as you embark upon your treatment plan and strive to achieve a substance-free lifestyle.

Most drug treatment or rehab regimens begin by facilitating the detox process for those grappling with an alcohol use disorder. For more information on these programs, contact Next Generation Village today.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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