Alcohol detox is a process that can vary greatly from one person to another. Someone getting ready for rehab, or their family, may wonder “how long does it take to detox from alcohol?”
Note, there is a difference between how long it takes for alcohol to wear off, how long it takes to leave your bloodstream, and how long withdrawal takes. All of these are a part of the detox process.
How Long Does It Take For Alcohol To Leave Your Blood
The human body metabolizes alcohol at a rate of 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) per hour. This isn’t very helpful to most people unless they are good at conversions and math. However, there are BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content charts that help with determining how long it would take for alcohol to leave your blood. Essentially if you are a male with a bodyweight of 160lbs, and you drank 4 standard drinks in the past hour, then your BAC would be 0.09. Additionally, it takes between 40 to 60 minutes for the body to metabolize 1 standard drink. So for 4 drinks, it would take approximately 4 hours for your body to metabolize the alcohol and get your BAC back down to 0.
How Long Does It Take For Alcohol To Wear Off
The effects of alcohol do not necessarily wear off in the same timeframe that the human body metabolizes alcohol. This is because alcohol can have several lingering side effects. For one, it causes dehydration. Without proper water consumption, symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness can last beyond when the body has processed all of the alcohol consumed. Additionally, those who drink heavily to the degree of a physical dependence will actually begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as the effects of alcohol begin to wear off.
Factors That Affect Detox Timelines
Although no one can say exactly how long it will take for an individual to detox from alcohol, there are several factors that can help give a general idea of how long detox will take. These factors include:
- Frequency of Alcohol Use
- How much alcohol is typically consumed
- How long alcohol abuse has occurred
- Biological Sex
- History of alcohol detox & treatment
- The presence of co-occurring mental health disorders (ie: depression & anxiety)
- Existing medical conditions
For instance, someone who has been drinking heavily every day for years is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms that are longer and more severe than an individual that drinks about the same amount but has only been drinking for 6 months. Due to biological factors, when looking at a male and female who have a nearly identical past with alcohol, the women may be more likely to have a worse detox experience. Additionally, any mental or physical health issues can add complications that contribute to an extended detox period.
Physical Alcohol Detox
When talking about detoxing from alcohol, withdrawal symptoms are probably what come to mind. From vomiting and chills to seizures and delirium tremons, the physical withdrawal symptoms can be intense. Physical symptoms may begin to develop as early as 6 hours after the last drink, peak after about 48-72 hours, and tapper off until about day 5. However, in severe cases, it can take 10-14 days to physically detox from alcohol.
Emotional/Psychological Alcohol Detox
One thing many people are surprised to learn is that a detox program isn’t just designed to help manage physical detox symptoms, but emotional and psychological ones as well. During detox, there may be a range of emotions that surface. These emotions may include depression, anxiety, fear, a desire to drink (cravings), and many more. A treatment facility provides a safe space to manage these emotions and develop tools to cope with any lingering psychological effects of alcohol detox in the coming months or years.
Yes, that’s right, some effects can last for months or years following alcohol detox. This condition is referred to as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. If PAWS is considered a part of the alcohol detox process, then it can be said that it takes up to a year or two to detox from alcohol.
Regardless of how long it takes to detox from alcohol, Holistix Treatment Centers is here to help each and every client from day one and continues to provide care indefinitely through various levels of care and our alumni programs.