How Long to Recover from Alcohol?

Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

How long it takes to recover from alcohol will depend on historical drinking patterns. Withdrawal symptoms during detox can determine overall recovery duration.  

Trying to quit drinking when there is a long-term alcohol addiction may bring on one of the most challenging forms of withdrawal symptoms experienced during alcohol cessation.  

Alcohol addiction can be challening to put out of sight and out of mind. 

It is difficult to be surrounded with people who don’t drink alcohol at all. Group members, colleagues, or friends do not genuinely know the gravity of trying to quit alcohol consumption after battling with alcohol use disorder in the past.  

If  searching for ways to quit drinking here’s what to expect during alcohol withdrawal.

What Can Be The Severe Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal? 

Depression, irritability, headaches, mood swings, fevers, clammy skin, vomiting/ nausea, and excessive sweating are some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of alcohol 

During alcoholic dependency, going one day without drinking becomes difficult, and it feels like staring down the barrel of alcohol addiction. 

This is the time to be concerned about health conditions and stopping drinking. 

Joining a professional detox program under the mental health services administration will help in reducing the acuteness of potential withdrawal symptoms and in staying stable.  

How Long Does The Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Last? 

For people with drinking habits and severe symptoms of alcohol cravings, withdrawal symptoms will start about 5-10 hours after the last drink. 

If the level of alcohol dependence is not acute, a few more hours will pass before severe withdrawal happens.  

For heavy alcohol users, the severe withdrawal phase lasts from 5 to 7 days.  

This is a rough estimate of time for most alcohol detox programs. If alcohol dependence is extreme, a longer acute withdrawal period occurs.  

To find out more  about withdrawal, read out alcohol withdrawal FAQs.

What Is Alcohol Delirium Tremens (DTs) 

A more severe form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs). This stage of withdrawal usually happens in acute cases of alcoholism.  

It is also called “the shakes”. Delirium tremens usually appears after about 48 to 96 hours of quitting drinking. 

It lasts for 24 hours in some. For others, it can be up to 5 days. Delirium tremens is the nervous system trying to manage with no alcohol in the body. 

The most acute symptoms for DTs are seizures and body tremors. These can be life-threatening.  

More discomforting symptoms include fatigue, hallucinations, and long periods of sleep. These are a fdew reasons why beating alcoholism without medical supervision during the alcohol detox stage is bad.  

Alcohol Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS) 

A few months after the last drink of alcohol, severe withdrawal-like symptoms occur.  

This is called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or Protracted withdrawal. 

The symptoms of post-acute withdrawal happen more in the mind than in the body.  

Examples of the most severe symptoms are: 

  • Panic and anxiety 
  • Obsession-compulsive thoughts 
  • Insomnia/trouble sleeping 
  • Mood swings 
  • Alcohol cravings 
  • Overreacting emotionally to situations. 

How Long Does Alcohol Recovery Take? 

The symptoms of PAWS can last for months to years, based on the severity of abuse. 

These symptoms will appear and disappear without any warning throughout that time. The typical symptoms are less severe than they were at the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal.  

An alcohol rehab after alcohol detox treatment will guide on how to adjust to PAWS when its effects occur while still under professional medical advice to achieve a sober life.  

This knowledge provided in a rehab program helps in the struggle to fight against PAWS now and in the future.  


Benefits Of Quitting Alcohol 

When you stop drinking alcohol after years of alcoholism, the body starts reversing the effects of alcohol usage.  

One of the most damaging symptoms of abused alcohol is giving up healthy habits and social activities because of heavy drinking.  

A drug-free life means having more time for self-rediscovery and building self-worth and passion. 

Health Risks Of Heavy Drinking 

Drinking can take a huge toll on mental and physical health. It leads to an increased risk of developing these health conditions: 

  • Blood pressure 
  • Anxiety 
  • Alcoholic hepatitis 
  • Cancer arrhythmias 
  • Cirrhosis 
  • Dementia and depression 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Fibrosis 
  • Sexually transmitted disease 
  • Digestive disease and Pancreatitis 
  • Depression and stroke 

Studies show that some of the damage caused to the liver, brain, gut, and cardiovascular system will begin to slowly heal as you stop drinking and join an alcohol rehab programme to deal with alcoholism.  

As the alcohol leaves the body and good habits are established, feeling better follows, particularly after the experience of discomfort following symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

There will be a visible improvement in mental and physical health.  

Health Benefits Of Alcohol Recovery 

The good news is there are many benefits of recovery from substance abuse and abused alcohol that will help when moving forward with a healthier and more active lifestyle. 

Better Looks 

The phrase “alcohol face”  is used to describe the damaging effects of drug abuse on the skin. These include:  

  • Dehydration 
  • Broken capillaries on the nose and face 
  • Jaundice (with long-term abuse)  
  • Inflammation 
  • Low collagen levels (which results in saggy, loose skin) 

Drug use has also been associated with psoriasis and inflammatory skin disease. When alcohol drinking is stopped, there is a gradual rejuvenation of the elasticity of the skin. The yellowing and redness of the skin disappear slowly.


Good Sleep Quality 

Drinking alcohol and poor sleep are closely associated. This is because alcohol intervenes with the sleep cycles, making it challenging to stay asleep all through the night.  

It also calms the throat muscles, increasing vulnerability to snoring and sleep apnoea. 

While there are some serious sleep problems in early recovery, the more the refrain from alcohol, the greater the improvements noticed in sleep quality. 

Better Mental Health 

There is a high rate of co-occurrence of mental illness and other addictions including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.  

As reported by the national survey on drug usage and its impact on health, 9.2 million U.S. adults suffered from a substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018. 60% of them do not benefit from treatment options [??].  

Although scientists have yet to understand the exact connection, many people relapse to self-medicate the symptoms of mental illness[3]. 

Alcohol worsens mental illness. Quitting drinking is one solution for heavy drinkers to lessen their symptoms.  

Can Your Body Recover From Alcohol Abuse? 

Long term alcohol abuse has been proven to have life-threatening health effects. The body is capable of recovering from alcohol abuse,  achieved if sobriety is maintained after alcohol recovery.  

The National Institute of Health has reported that heavy drinkers who stop drinking for several months to a year can expect some improvement of the structures in their brain. [1 

Achieving and maintaining a sober life for 5 to 7 years is the peak time where reversible changes happen, although changes usually start in the first year of quitting alcohol.  

Any further damage because of alcoholism & substance abuse retreats if one quits drinking. A lot of brain changes cannot be reversed [??].  

Knowing how much physiological and functional impairment will be experienced depends on the time frame, family history, the substance used and genetic factors or other factors including dietary habits, presence of any synchronizing conditions, and amount of exercise.  

Wernicke-Korsakoff is one situation where a heavy drinker can have issues with nystagmus, walking, dense amnesia, and cognitive problems like severe confusion.  

Even though this condition has no direct link to alcohol use, a lack of nutrition in those who overlooked their diet because of alcohol abuse contributes.  

Alcohol use is often associated with Vitamin B1 deficiency. When identified early, this can be resolved with diet and supplementation.

Abbeycare explain alcohol rehab treatment, here.

How does the brain recovery from addiction? Complete guide here.

How Long Does It Take For Your Body To Heal From Alcohol Addiction? 

It might take a few days to  years for the body to heal from alcohol, as healing depends on weight, age, and drinking history.  

If heavy drinker stops drinking alcohol suddenly, alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin within a few hours to a few days.  

Withdrawal symptoms and alcohol detox symptoms will be uncomfortable if alcohol intake has been short-term. If abused alcohol has been long-term, symptoms are acute and even fatal.  

A significant amount of dedication and commitment is needed to get rid of alcohol related or other drugs related health issues with medical attention.  

According to medical health professionals, if withdrawal symptoms like an eating disorder or mental health disorder are experienced, treatment is necessary.

How Long Does It Take For Your Body To Recover After A Night Of Drinking? 

It takes 2 – 4 weeks for the body to regulate after a night of heavy drinking.  

While fighting with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it has been proven by peer reviewed studies that 24-hours can feel like a never-ending phase when  facing a mishmash of mental and physical symptoms.  

Drinking can be hazardous for the nervous system and body, but it is never too late to remove damages.  

Studies about the alcohol-related problems and recovery process have shown that the brain can recover itself remarkably after stopping drinking or use of other substances. [2] 

A medical facility can provide medical advice and professional assistance in the form of support groups to cope with the acute withdrawal stage, and in choosing the best addiction treatment according to individual needs.

Bottom Line 

The studies show that it takes at least 15 days for the brain to begin retracting to normal, so this is the main point at which the timeline of recovery from alcohol starts. 

Until the brain and body have fully recovered, it is less able to suppress the urge to consume alcohol. This is how alcohol impairment to the brain’s cognitive ability is improved.  

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: November 11, 2023