How Long to Recover from Alcohol?

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How long it takes to recover from alcohol will depend on how long and how much you have been drinking. Withdrawal symptoms during detox will also decide the length of your recovery from alcohol abuse.  

So, trying to quit drinking when you have a strong alcohol addiction will bring on one of the most challenging forms of withdrawal symptoms that you could experience during alcohol cessation.  

And when you succeed in making it a few months into alcohol detox and sobriety, alcohol addiction is difficult to put out of sight and out of mind.

The strong drinking habit of alcohol dependence will fade out periodically and you literally see it everywhere once you step outside of your house. 

It’s extremely difficult to surround yourself with people who don’t drink alcohol at all and then you will have group members, colleagues, or friends who don’t genuinely know the gravity of trying to quit alcohol consumption after battling with alcohol use disorder in the past.  

Many don’t understand how insensitive it is to say somebody, “Hey, have a sip,” “just one drink, c’mon” who is trying to combat alcohol withdrawal syndrome. 

In this article, we’re going to look at the alcohol withdrawal timeframe and how long it takes for excessive alcohol consumption and cravings to ultimately go away.  

So, if you’re searching for ways to quit drinking or you’re somewhere in the stages of the recovery process, here’s what you should expect with a complete alcohol withdrawal procedure.  

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.  

If you’re at a stage where you consistently have an alcoholic beverage or you can’t pass even 1 day without drinking, it feels like you are staring down the barrel of alcohol addiction.

Now is the high time when you should be concerned about stopping drinking and your health conditions. 

Joining a professional detox program under mental health services administration will help you stay stable and reduce the acuteness of potential withdrawal symptoms.  

How long does the alcohol withdrawal last? 

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

If your level of alcohol dependence isn’t acute, you will have a few more hours than that before severe withdrawal happens.  

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

This is a rough estimated time of most alcohol detox programs.) If your alcohol dependence is extreme, expect a longer acute withdrawal period.  

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

What is Alcohol Delirium Tremens (DTs) 

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

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

For some people, it only lasts for 24 hours but for others, it can end up in 5 days. Delirium tremens are fundamentally the nervous system trying to manage with no alcohol in the body.

DTs can be life-threatening as its most acute symptoms are seizures and body tremors.  

Some more discomforting symptoms include fatigue, hallucinations, and long periods of sleep. These are some of the reasons why nobody should try to beat alcoholism without medical supervision during the alcohol detox stage.  

Alcohol Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS) 

After surviving acute alcohol withdrawal, you’re not entirely out of the woods yet. About a couple of months after your last sip of alcohol, you may suddenly go through severe withdrawal-like symptoms.  

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 rest of the body.  

Examples of the most severe symptoms involve: 

  • 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 alcohol abuse.

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

If you join an alcohol rehab after alcohol detox treatment – which you should – only then you should be able to have guidance on how to adjust PAWS when it first effects and while you’re still under professional medical advice to achieve a sober life.  

This knowledge will be priceless to you as you graduate from the rehab program and continue your struggle to fight against PAWS now and then thereafter.  

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Benefits of quitting alcohol 

When you stop drinking after years of alcoholism, not only will your body start to reverse the effects of alcohol usage, but you will also feel better too. 

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 to rediscover your self-worth and your passion and construct a fresh and exciting life. 

Health risks of heavy drinking 

Drinking can take a huge toll on your mental and physical health, lifting an increased risk of the following 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 your 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 your body and you start to establish some good habits, you will start feeling better – maybe better than you have in years.  

Particularly after you experience the discomfort of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, you’ll see visible improvement in your mental and physical health.  

Health benefits of alcohol recovery 

The good news is there are plenteous benefits of recovery from substance abuse and abused alcohol that will surely help you move forward with a healthier and active lifestyle. 

Better looks 

Have you ever heard of the phrase “alcohol face?” this term is used to delineate the damaging effects of drug abuse on your skin such as:  

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

Drug use has been also associated with psoriasis and inflammatory skin disease. When you stop drinking, you gradually rejuvenate elasticity to the skin, and the yellowing and redness of the skin and around the eyes disappear slowly.  

Good sleep quality 

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

It also calms the throat muscles, making you vulnerable to snoring and sleep apnoea.

While you can think of some serious sleep problems in early recovery, the more you refrain from booze, the greater improvements you will notice in your sleep quality. 

Better mental health 

There is a high rate of co-occurrence between our 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. Still, 60% of them don’t avail any treatment options.  

Although scientists have yet to understand the exact connection, we know that many people relapse to self-medicate the symptoms of mental illness.

We also understand that alcohol worsens mental illness, thus quitting drinking can be the best 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, still, your body has the capability to recover from alcohol abuse, which can only be achieved if a person stays sober 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 these structures in their brain. [1 

Achieving and maintaining a sober life for 5 to 7 years is the high time where reversible changes can happen. Still, most change usually happens in the first year of quitting alcohol.  

Any further damage because of alcoholism & substance abuse is pulled back if one quits drinking. Still a great deal of brain changes can’t be rid of.  

To know how much physiological and functional impairment someone may keep on experiencing depends upon the time frame, family history, the substance used and genetic factors or other factors including dietary habits, presence of any synchronizing conditions, amount of exercise.  

Wernicke-Korsakoff is one situation where a personal that’s 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, it shows a lack of nutrition in those who overlooked their diet because of alcohol abuse.  

Vitamin B1 is often most affected by alcohol use, but when identified at the early stages, can be lifted with diet and supplementation. If it’s severe, the problem may not be resolved even with huge medication.  


Related article:  Rehab for Alcohol Abuse


How long does it take for your body to heal from alcohol? 

It might take a few days to months or years for your body to heal from alcohol, as it depends on your weight, age and drinking history.  

If you are a heavy drinker and stop drinking alcohol suddenly, you can expect alcohol withdrawal symptoms to begin with a few hours to a few days.  

Your withdrawal symptoms and alcohol detox symptoms will surely be uncomfortable if you were not consuming alcohol for long. But if you have abused alcohol for years, they may be acute and even fatal. 

According to the medical health professional advice if you experience withdrawal symptoms like eating disorders or mental health disorder and seek treatment.

You need a significant amount of dedication and commitment to get rid of alcohol related or other drugs related health issues with medical attention.  

How long does it take for your body to recover after a night of drinking? 

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

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

Drinking can be hazardous for your nervous system and body changes, but it’s never too late to remove all damages overnight.  

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

A Professional medical facility can provide medical advice and professional assistance in the form of support groups to cope with the acute withdrawal stage and choose the best addiction treatment according to your 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 has fully recovered, it is less able to bottle up the urge to consume alcohol. This is the reason how the alcohol impairs the brain’s cognitive ability is improved.  

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: October 27, 2021

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.