How Long Does It Take For The Liver To Detox?

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
quotation mark


It takes the liver up to a week to fully detox from alcohol.

Based on an article medically reviewed by Annamarie Coy, BA, ICPR, MATS, a liver detox starts a few hours after the last alcoholic drink and lasts for days [1].

The factors that influence how long it takes for the liver to detox include:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Duration and history of drinking pattern
  • When the last alcoholic drink was
  • If the liver has had time to heal
  • Degree of pre-existing liver damage

Whenever the liver filters alcohol, its cells die and regenerate.

In the case of an unhealthy liver caused by long-term abuse, the liver is unable to repair and renew itself.

Liver detoxification is essential to keep the liver healthy.

According to American Addiction Centres, alcohol stays in the system between 6 and 72 hours, based on the detection system used [2].

How Does a Liver Detox Work?

The body's central filtration system is the liver, which cleanses the blood, and converts toxins to waste products [3].

The National Institute on Health defines liver detox as a process where medical professionals assist patients in overcoming their dependence on alcohol physically and psychologically [4].

A liver detoxification flushes toxins from the body, although there is no proof that the detox will get rid of body damage caused by excess alcohol consumption [3].

Liver cleanses are not recommended to those who have non-alcoholic or alcoholic fatty liver disease.

According to Sara Gottfried, MD, the different ways to detox the liver include [5]:

  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Eating organic food
  • Increasing Glutathione levels
  • Eating broccoli
  • Participating in yoga
  • Taking saunas regularly
  • Consuming supplements

Signs of Liver Detox

There are different symptoms caused during the alcohol liver detox process.

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • High heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Extreme sweating
  • Restlessness

Liver Detox And Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The signs of liver cleansing during alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • Depression
  • Stomach bloating
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Physical bruising
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle damage

The Liver Detox Cycle 

The three stages of a liver detox cycle are [7]:

Intake Evaluation

A medical professional will evaluate the patient's history to create a plan for alcohol liver detox.


Detox programmes use medications to manage alcohol liver detox symptoms.

The medications replicate the alcohol effects in the body and reduce discomfort.

Where very long term alcohol abuse has resulted in significant liver cirrhosis, metabolism of regular detox medication such as chlordiazepoxide may be reduced, and an alternative medication can used instead, such as Oxazepam.

The extent of liver damage incurred can be ascertained via Liver Function test (LFT).


The stabilisation stage involves taking the patient's body and mind away from alcohol-induced urges.

Addiction specialists help patients stabilise through medical and psychological therapies.

Timeline Of Liver Detox

The symptoms of liver detox depend on the timeline.

From the first few hours after drinking alcohol to after seven days, patients experience various symptoms like those mentioned above.

The symptoms during alcohol addiction treatment are similar to those of alcohol liver detox [8].

8-10 Hours After Alcohol Consumption

The first liver detox symptoms include nausea, shaking, irritability, abdominal pain, headaches, and anxiety.

There will also be signs of tiredness, restlessness, and insomnia.  

24-72 Hours After Alcohol Consumption  

The body will be fatigued after this time, showing signs of exhaustion.

The physical and psychological symptoms will become more pronounced, including delayed reactions to stimuli, anxiety, and a strong urge to consume alcohol.

One Week After Alcohol Consumption

After one week, liver detox symptoms come and go, but emotional agitation is still pronounced.

Symptoms like hallucinations, seizures, tremors, and auditory anomalies occur.

Medical experts help in mitigating and managing the symptoms.

7+ Days After Alcohol Consumption

After the first seven days, the symptoms will reduce and eventually disappear.

Minor symptoms will persist for a few months up to a year, including anxiety, delayed reflexes, and insomnia.

It typically takes seven days for the liver to detox but a couple of months for the symptoms to eventually disappear.

Alcohol abuse patients are recommended to enrol in medically-assisted alcohol liver detox to manage symptoms accordingly.

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: October 31, 2023