Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: What Happens After You Go Cold Turkey?

alcohol withdrawal timeline

Do you dread the weekends because you have a family member who drinks too much? Are you looking for ways to help your loved one sober up and start over?

There are more than 15 million Americans with an alcohol abuse disorder, but only about 6% of them get treatment.

If your friend or family member is committed to overcoming their alcohol addiction, this article’s for you. We’ll show you a typical alcohol withdrawal timeline and help you find a reputable rehab facility.

Common Signs of Alcohol Addiction

The first step toward recovery from alcohol abuse is admitting that you have a problem. But how can you tell if your friend or loved one is actually drinking too much?

In general, an alcohol use disorder means that a person repeatedly drinks more than they had planned. Binge drinking is defined as having more than five drinks at one time for men, and four at one time for women. 

Their alcohol use may interfere with their finances or cause them to lose jobs and relationships. 

When they try to quit or cut back on their drinking, they may experience signs of alcohol withdrawal including dizziness, shakes, or even seizures. 

It can be hard to spot alcohol abuse at times because some people only drink alone. If you suspect alcohol abuse, though, it might be time to intervene.

Alcohol Abuse in Teens and Young Adults

We all know that teens and young adults are under a lot of pressure, but how many of them struggle with alcohol? 

Surprisingly, about one in three teens drink during their high school years. They are at a much higher risk than adult drinkers for alcohol-related car accidents, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse. 

Signs of alcohol abuse and drug abuse in teens include trouble in school, secretive behavior, and sudden changes in mental health.

They may also have a new group of friends, begin sneaking out of the house, or miss curfew. 

As a parent, you have the legal power to put your child into a rehab facility if they’re 17 years old or younger. There are specialized rehab centers for teens and your insurance may cover the costs. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect

Ideally, your friend or family member will realize that they have a problem with alcohol. They will then check themselves into a rehab center where they can undergo supervised, medically-assisted withdrawal. 

If they want to detox at home, you should know that they will experience a wide range of withdrawal symptoms in the first few weeks.

The symptoms usually follow the same pattern, and the withdrawal typically lasts at least three days.

Any alcohol withdrawal timeline chart has to include nausea. Your loved one will most likely experience dizziness, sweating, and an increase in their temperature in the first two or three day of their withdrawal. 

If they’ve been abusing alcohol for years, they may experience hand tremors, hallucinations, or seizures after the first few days. These issues may linger for up to two weeks and could be life-threatening.

Undergoing detox at home is one option, but for your loved one’s safety, it’s a much better idea to seek professional help.

Long-Term Recovery Options

Not all of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are physical. Your friend or loved one might experience mental symptoms as they try to withdraw from alcohol.

They may be depressed, angry, or even suicidal. Paranoia and anxiety are also common, often leading to a severe relapse.

Breaking the cycle of alcohol abuse and dependency can take years. That’s why a professional rehab situation is ideal.

They offer supervised withdrawal and professional counseling to take your loved one through the rehab process as gently as possible. 

Again, you may not realize that your loved one has a problem. They may be extremely secretive about their alcohol abuse. You may be tempted to attribute their behavior to stress or mental illness when they’re really drinking in secret. 

Long-term rehab statistics are promising: about 33% of people with alcohol use disorder make a full and lasting recovery.

Is It Time for an Intervention?

If you suspect that your friend or family member has an alcohol abuse problem, it might be time for an intervention. An intervention is a conversation that has rehabilitation as its goal. 

When you talk to your family member, it’s important to keep your comments positive. Talk to them about how committed you are to their recovery and what you see for them in their future. 

If you can, take the time to practice your remarks before the actual intervention. You might be nervous about confronting your loved one about their drinking, so it’s a good idea to write down what you plan to say.

Don’t expect a positive response right away. In fact, you should expect a negative response at first. Your loved one might not realize the extent of their alcohol addiction and may not want to seek treatment. 

It’s important to remain supportive, though, and offer them the chance to pursue a residential rehabilitation program.

How to Find the Right Rehab Facility

Given the severe withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse disorder, you should find a reputable local rehab facility before your intervention. You can get referrals from your doctor or from people who have been through the detox process. 

If possible, try to take a tour of the facility before your loved one goes there. They may feel more comfortable committing to a residential program if they can see it first. 

You might be surprised to find that drug rehabilitation is often covered by insurance. The rehab facility will help you explore payment options. 

Going cold turkey and quitting drinking does work for some people, but why go through the withdrawal process alone?

It’s better to get customized treatment and get help making it through the alcohol withdrawal timeline. 

Medication-assisted withdrawal can help people in their quest for sobriety because it allows them to focus on their mental health.

Call us or send us an email online to schedule a tour and get more information.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.