Alcohol is the third-leading cause of preventable death in the United States today, and alcohol use disorder is associated with nearly half of all deaths from cirrhosis and lung disease. Excessive drinking increases your risk of developing most cancers, including mouth cancer, breast cancer, and liver cancer. If you stop drinking today, you will instantly reduce your risk of developing these life-threatening diseases, as well as improve your overall quality of life.
Alcohol detox can be the most challenging stage of recovery from alcohol use disorder, thanks to withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, tremors, nausea, fever, and headache. Heavy or long-term drinkers are at risk of even more severe symptoms, like hallucinations and potentially lethal seizures. Getting a professional alcohol detox at an addiction treatment facility will provide you with symptom relief through medications and other therapies, as well as provide immediate medical care should your withdrawal symptoms become dangerous. To learn more about what an addiction treatment center can do for you, visit a resource like Detox.com.
Your alcohol withdrawal timeline will vary depending on the severity of your addiction, the state of your overall health, and what you do during the detox process. Nevertheless, the following is a general timeline for alcohol withdrawal, to help you know what to expect:
- Six to 24 hours after your last drink: Symptoms start off mild, and can include anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, loss of appetite, shaking, mood swings, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heart palpitations, and headache.
- Days one to three: Symptoms rapidly worsen and reach peak levels. Other symptoms may develop, such as irritability, confusion, sweating, fever, irregular heartbeat, and hypertension.
- Days three to seven: At this point, the physical withdrawal symptoms begin to taper off, and should be gone after day ten. Psychological symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, nightmares, agitation, and mood swings may remain a problem for a few weeks or longer, depending on the individual, but have faith that they will eventually pass.
Professional detox and addiction treatment will make this process easier and faster, as will physical exercise and good nutrition. Nutrition is particularly important, as people with the alcohol use disorder are often malnourished. Alcohol impacts the way your body metabolizes your food and absorbs nutrients. It inhibits your absorption of healthy fats, B vitamins, and protein, which are all necessary for a strong immune system, adequate energy, and general wellness. Your body needs a steady supply of nutrient-rich foods during alcohol detox more than at any other time so that your brain and body has the necessary building blocks to heal from the negative effects of alcohol dependence.
Make sure to eat plenty of healthy, unprocessed foods, such as beans, colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains, and to drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated and to flush out the alcohol and toxins from your system. A healthy diet will facilitate detox and healing, boost your energy, clear out brain fog, enhance your memory, improve sleep quality, and even combat alcohol cravings.