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How Long Does it Take to Detox From Alcohol?

A graphic depiction of the time it takes to detox from alcohol

One of the most common questions we get from those who’ve decided to quit drinking is about the average time to detox from alcohol. This is a fairly tricky question, so it’s worth taking some time here to answer it.

Why does the body need to detox from alcohol?

First of all, we want to remind you that alcohol is a toxin. As The Guardian reminds us, there’s a reason that we use alcohol to sterilize needles and clean surfaces. Alcohol is a toxin that kills microorganisms, and, the Guardian says, “Alcohol kills humans too [...] The toxicity of alcohol is worsened because in order for it to be cleared from the body it has to be metabolized to acetaldehyde, an even more toxic substance.”

According to the CDC, acetaldehyde not only harms your body but also prevents it from healing itself. It can cause cancer, and the more you drink the higher the risk.

There’s a reason you feel so terrible after a night of drinking. But how long does the body take to detox from alcohol?

How Long Does it Take to Detox From Alcohol?

There are many things that impact how long alcohol detox takes. They include

  • How long a person has been drinking alcohol
  • How much a person drinks
  • How often a person drinks 
  • Age
  • Weight

And more. In many cases, it’s best to consult a doctor for guidance on how long to detox from alcohol before beginning the next phase of recovery.

Most generally, the body takes 24-72 hours to detox from alcohol, but withdrawal symptoms may last far longer.

How long does alcohol withdrawal last?

The Mayo Clinic says “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.” Symptoms might include

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Tremor

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Severe withdrawal symptoms might include hallucinations or seizures, but a well-supervised detox process may help reduce the risks of these severe symptoms. WebMD says that detox support may include “medicine for withdrawal symptoms and care for other issues that come up. The goal is to help you get mentally and physically stable. You may have your temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing checked regularly during this process.”

What’s important to remember is that your recovery will become easier once you have the toxins out of your system. You can’t start getting free from alcohol until you reduce the alcohol in your system. If you have a long-term alcohol abuse problem, this process will take longer and may be more difficult.

But it will be well worth it. From better sleep to healthier relationships, and from a healthier liver to reduced blood pressure, there are reasons that the average time to detox from alcohol is worth the effort.

And, as we’ve said in our blog, “ You might suffer with some side effects as your body adjusts, but for the majority of people, most physical ‘withdrawal’ symptoms only last a week or so.  Again, while your doctor may not have too many options around the emotional side of your drinking, they can help manage the physical aspects.“

As for that emotional side, that’s where Sober in Seven comes in. Register for the free How to Quit Drinking webinar.

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Author of Sober In Seven and wellness and sobriety coach in the UK, here to use my own experience of overcoming alcohol addiction to support you on your journey to a better healthier life.

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