You may feel apprehensive at the thought of withdrawing from alcohol, but detox is the first step in treating alcoholism. It is the process of allowing your body to remove all traces of alcohol from your system. Alcohol is a depressant that your body begins to rely on as a result of repeated, heavy drinking.

Detox is the first phase of recovery from alcohol addiction. It addresses your physical dependence, allows your body to withdraw from the substance and puts you in the best position to commence ongoing treatment and therapy.

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The length and intensity of detox depend on the duration, frequency and strength of the alcohol use. Withdrawal symptoms can begin to surface a few hours after your last drink. They tend to be mild initially and get increasingly worse for the first couple of days. Symptoms typically subside within a week but some mild symptoms may persist. These can generally be treated with medication.

Detox is the period of time during which alcohol is removed from your system. It includes the withdrawal process, coping with the accompanying symptoms and taking care of your body until alcohol is out of your system.

Excessive drinking excites and irritates the nervous system. If you drink heavily and frequently, over time, your body becomes dependent on alcohol. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is the name for the combination of physical and emotional symptoms that occur when a heavy drinker suddenly stops or drastically reduces their alcohol intake.

From mild symptoms, such as anxiety and nausea to severe complications that can include hallucinations and seizures, at its most extreme, AWS can be life-threatening. Symptoms can occur anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days after your last drink and will worsen over the next two to three days. While most symptoms will subside within a week, some milder ones may persist for weeks to come. The most severe type of AWS is known as Delirium Tremens (DTs) which requires medical treatment.

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Detoxing from alcohol can induce withdrawal symptoms. The longevity and severity of your alcohol use will influence the level of symptoms you experience. Symptoms range from mild to severe in intensity, with some potentially posing a risk to life. More severe symptoms can include hallucinations, seizures, tremors and in rare cases, Delirium Tremens.

While a medical detox can ease the intensity of symptoms and make the process more comfortable, some are unavoidable. There are a number of common side effects caused by withdrawal from alcohol.

  • Nausea
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Body discomfort
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Shakiness and sweating
  • Vomiting

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability