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Medically Reviewed

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last?

- 11 sections

Medically Reviewed: June 18, 2021

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Many people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Someone might start drinking socially and become dependent on it, or might drink to dull uncomfortable emotions like sadness, loneliness, or anxiety. Over time, someone might start to drink more than before–and more than they ever intended to. Alcohol dependence or addiction is almost certain to happen after weeks, months, or years of heavy drinking. Addiction is a serious condition, and most people need treatment to help them overcome it.

Alcohol works in the body by depressing the central nervous system (CNS), which results in a feeling of relaxation. To compensate for this depression, the CNS increases its activity. With ongoing, heavy alcohol use, the CNS remains in this elevated state. When someone stops drinking alcohol, the CNS keeps up this pace–but without the depressant effects of alcohol, it is now too active. The result is withdrawal–the uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms people experience.

If you are going through withdrawal or are curious about getting treatment for alcohol addiction, you might wonder how long alcohol withdrawal lasts. Understanding the alcohol withdrawal timeline can help you prepare for the process.

Understanding the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

alcohol withdrawal timeline

While many factors can affect your experience in withdrawal from alcohol, there are generally four stages to this process.

Stage 1: 6-12 hours after your last drink

This stage is marked mostly by many uncomfortable physical symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors/shaking
  • Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach

Cravings can be intense during this stage. Many people require support to avoid relapse during the first stage of withdrawal.

Stage 2: 12-24 hours after your last drink

You are likely to be dehydrated due to increased sweating and vomiting. It may be hard, if not impossible for you to eat or drink. Many people experience hallucinations. These can be upsetting but are not dangerous.

Stage 3: 24-48 hours after your last drink

This stage of the alcohol withdrawal timeline is the most dangerous of all. During this stage, irritability is common. You may have low blood sugar. People develop delirium tremens, which is a condition that is marked by extreme confusion, overheating, excessive sweating, hallucinations, seizures, and, in some cases, death.

Stage 4: 48-168 hours after your last drink

After two full days without a drink, your physical symptoms may start to decrease a little. At this stage, many people experience intense emotional discomfort in the form of depression, anxiety, confusion, anger, and restlessness.

What Can Affect with Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline?

The length of time you spend in each stage of withdrawal and the symptoms you experience are not set in stone. There are some things that can affect your experience in withdrawal, including:

  • Other substances you used – If you were using drugs at the same time when you were drinking, you will go through withdrawal from both substances. Each will have its own symptoms.
  • Gender – Men typically have longer and more intense periods of withdrawal. This is due to the patterns in which men tend to use alcohol, the way their bodies metabolize alcohol, and the length of time they use alcohol before seeking treatment.
  • Family history of alcohol abuse – Having parents or other close family members with a history of alcohol abuse makes it more likely that your withdrawal will be longer or more severe.
  • Length of time abusing alcohol – The longer you abuse alcohol, the longer and more intense your withdrawal might be.
  • Quantity of alcohol consumed – The amount of alcohol you used to drink can have an effect on the length and severity of withdrawal.
  • Physical or mental health conditions – If you have certain physical conditions or a mental illness, your withdrawal may be longer or more intense.

There is no foolproof way to predict how long alcohol withdrawal lasts or how severe your symptoms will become. It is important to have medical supervision when you are going through withdrawal from alcohol to keep yourself safe and comfortable during the process.

Detox at Each Stage of the Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

stages of alcohol withdrawal detox

During medically supervised detox, you will be given the support and treatment you need to go through the withdrawal period safely. There are three stages involved in detox.


Immediately, you will be interviewed to help the staff at the detox facility determine the correct level of treatment you need. You will be screened for physical and mental health conditions that will need to be managed during withdrawal. Your team will determine if medications are necessary and whether you should receive inpatient or outpatient care.


During this stage, you will be monitored during the detox process. As your body rids itself of alcohol, you will be treated with medications and holistic therapies that will keep you safe and comfortable. You will be given the support and supervision you need to experience a complete detox.


During this phase, you will receive treatment for your alcoholism. This includes education, individual and group therapy, medications, and holistic therapies to support healing.

The goal of a detox and treatment program is to help you overcome your physical dependence on alcohol and learn the skills you need to live life without returning to alcohol use. Getting the support and treatment you need is essential to working towards the healthy, fulfilling life you deserve. It can be a long road, but it is a journey worth taking.

Find an Alcohol Detox in Charlotte, North Carolina Today

Whether you are in the early stages of the alcohol withdrawal timeline or are curious about the process of substance abuse treatment, please reach out to the staff at the Charlotte Detox Center. Our knowledgeable, caring staff are here to answer your questions and help you get started in one of our flexible, high-quality alcohol detox programs. You do not have to manage your addiction on your own. Get the treatment you deserve by calling us today.