Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal | Inland Detox

Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

The earliest evidence of alcohol production dates back to 7000 BC in China. Alcohol has been a part of human history and played a significant role in our society for thousands of years. Traditional alcohol consumption usually comes from wine or beer. Distilled spirits increase the concentration of alcohol and the effects are felt quicker.

Regardless of the way the alcohol is consumed, the effects are generally the same for most consumers. Alcohol use does not always lead to alcohol abuse and less than 25% of the population will experience alcohol use disorder. Even alcohol cravings does not mean a person has an alcohol abuse problem, but it is one of the common symptoms.

How Alcohol Affects the Body

Alcohol is not digested like most of the food or beverages we consume. Alcohol is absorbed into our blood stream and the first effects are felt in the brain. As time passes, alcohol effects other organs like the kidneys, lungs, and liver.

There are several reasons alcohol has been consumed including rituals, social acceptance, lower inhibitions, release of tension, and enjoyment. In smaller doses or with infrequent usage, alcohol consumption is manageable. Increasing the quantity of alcohol consumed has considerable effects on our speech, or thought patterns, and our physical bodies.

A person might experience hallucinations and black outs. Slurred speech and loss of inhibitions become more evident in people as more alcohol is consumed. There is a condition known as delirium tremens that can lead to death so anyone should talk to their family physicians about proper treatment and medical care before they quit drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Dependency

As alcohol dependency becomes more evident, the brain will shrink. Mental health, liver disease, cancer and diabetes are serious conditions that can develop. The heart, liver and other organs will experience damage with increased and regular usage. Regular users will experience withdrawal delirium and other mental symptoms.

There are serious long-term complications once a person is alcohol dependent and alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be serious and should be medically reviewed. Quitting can be so dangerous, and anyone concerned with their alcohol dependency should consider medical assistance or could face death. Acute alcohol withdrawal is a real concern, but with proper help it can be avoided.

The more severe withdrawal symptoms will require a medical detox and some will need to consider seeking treatment for substance use disorders and addiction treatment. Treating alcohol withdrawal can be done at home in mild cases but severe alcohol withdrawal will require medical professionals. If you drink heavily and are experiencing any symptoms of the withdrawal from alcohol process, then seek medical supervision.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

It is important to note the dangers of mixing alcohol in combination with other drugs or medications. Mixing alcohol with medication can be potentially dangerous to a person’s health. Alcohol may interfere with some medications and drugs, making them less effective. Alcohol may make the side effects of some medications more intense.

For example, mixing ibuprofen and alcohol can be risky. Taking ibuprofen with alcohol in small doses is often okay, but when it is taken in higher doses it can cause serious damage including kidney damage, gastrointestinal issues or decreased alertness.

What Happens to the Body When you Stop Drinking?

What Happens when you Stop Drinking | Inland Detox

There are many factors that will affect how your body reacts when you quit drinking. The last drink you have will take time to process into the body. How much a person weighs, if you ate food, how often and in what quantities alcohol is consumed, when you had your last drink and other mental and physical health factors can all affect your detox process. Alcohol use affects the central nervous system as well as digestive and circulatory system.

Alcohol is a poison, and the liver works to remove toxins from our system. High blood pressure will damage the circulatory system. The detoxing from alcohol symptoms a person may experience are mood swings, confusion and stomach upset. The first symptoms are often mild and early alcohol withdrawal symptoms can easily be dealt with.

Moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include auditory hallucinations, tactile hallucinations, mild anxiety, increase in blood pressure, severe confusion and might require medical attention. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include tremors, seizures, and a more severe form of earlier symptoms. Quitting cold turkey may not be an option and you might require a medical professional to assist with detox process in a medical facility. These later stages of withdrawal are often called delirium tremens.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms | Inland Detox

Once you take your last drink, and curtail your alcohol intake, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms will often start. Anyone can experience withdrawal symptoms, even mild symptoms, from excessive alcohol consumption. Other symptoms can include sweating, vomiting, tremors, irritability, rapid breathing, anxiety, increased pulse rate and trouble sleeping. Hallucinations, loss of consciousness and other severe symptoms can develop. Alcohol detox is extremely dangerous with the worst cases experiencing delirium tremens.

There is a tendency to start to drink again and this can alleviate the symptoms, but you are not dealing with the underlying conditions of the illness. Alcoholism is now considered a disease and treatment should be considered. Often in the early stages of alcohol addiction, a person will experience a few symptoms but as with any substance abuse disorder, there is a tendency to ignore warning signs.

Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

As noted above, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal timeline will start as a person begins to alcohol detox.

After twelve to twenty-four hours the person may experience hallucinations, and these can last as long as several days. The other symptoms will sometimes continue as well and last for up to three days. You might experience seizures in severe cases.

What do Delirium Tremens Look Like?

One of the most severe stages of alcohol withdrawal will occur after several days. A person with alcohol dependency might experience a serious condition known as delirium tremens. This will usually require hospitalization and include severe trembling, rapid pulse, confusion, loss of conscious, sweats and about 5% will die from the condition.

How Long After You Stop Drinking Do You Feel Better?

Alcohol Addiction | Inland Detox

Many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be managed at home and will often pass within a few hours. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a recognized disorder. More severe withdrawal systems should pass within 24 hours but even the worst cases will find that after 5 days the body will often recover.

The later stages of substance abuse disorder and alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be noticeable for some time and there can be prolonged and non-recoverable damage to the heart, liver, and brain. Alcohol addiction is a recognized disease by a national institute the American Medical Association.

Alcohol and drug addiction is a treatable disease, and the last stages of alcohol withdrawal can lead to life-changing decisions. Some will choose substance abuse treatment after they decide they have had their last drink.

Addiction treatment can be the last stage of the many stages of alcohol withdrawal. Often, we see the final stages of alcohol withdrawal as we recover from the alcohol detox symptoms. Sometimes in extreme cases, we may have experienced alcohol withdrawal seizures for the first time. Addiction treatment is something to consider if you think you have excessive alcohol use. Quitting alcohol and looking at a sober life might be the last thing we do.

Those who have abused alcohol might need to look at other forms of drug abuse that is a factor in their lives. There are support groups and a treatment facility to assist since addiction is one of many recognized mental disorders. We may need to consider family therapy to help deal with mood swings as we recover.

Treatment at Inland Detox

Inland Detox is a drug and alcohol detox treatment center that specializes in treating addiction in our clients. Some of our program services include drug and alcohol detox care, addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapies, and other holistic treatment options.

Our clinicians and physicians are highly trained in drug and alcohol detox treatment care and can provide services to address the struggles with substance abuse. Some of our additional amenities include nutrition education, life skills training, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and are looking for help, please contact Inland Detox at 888-739-8296 for additional information on our program services.


Morse RM, Flavin DK. The Definition of AlcoholismJAMA. 1992;268(8):1012–1014. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080086030