Dangers of Detox from Alcohol

It was estimated in 2019 that around 14.5 million US citizens had an alcohol use disorder, an issue that has grown exponentially over the past few years in part due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Many people who may wish to quit, cite fear of withdrawal symptoms as a reason not to quit drinking, with questions like “Why am I addicted to alcohol?” “How long does it take to detox from alcohol?”, “What is the detox process like?” and “What are the dangers I could face when quitting alcohol?”

Alcohol is a legal substance that is almost universally available throughout the United States, sold in corner stores, sports arenas, bars and pubs, and specialty stores. A high percentage (over 50%) of Americans over the age of 12 have consumed alcohol over the past month according to a recent poll by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, with 29.7% of men and 22.2% of women reporting binge drinking within that same period of time.

Because of its prevalence and its legality, it may surprise you to learn that of all the different types of drugs there are in the world, alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to detox from. It is a central nervous system depressant that interferes with the way neurons fire in the brain and body, affecting dopamine which regulates feelings of pleasure, enjoyment, mood, motivation, cognition, and attention), and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which produces feel-good endorphins.

When your system becomes dependent on having alcohol in the bloodstream and you stop drinking, dopamine and GABA production also stop, causing negative physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can range from very uncomfortable to deadly in severity. The brain sends distress signals out to the rest of the body, causing pain, distress, and sickness, sometimes with serious health consequences that can lead to death if untreated.

These feelings can become so distressing and painful for some people that relapse feels like the only option without professional therapy and medical care. For nearly every person detoxing from alcohol, doctor supervision and medical care is recommended as your body works to remove toxins from your system and regain a healthy brain chemistry. Generally speaking, the longer you have been drinking, and the more alcohol you have been consuming, the more likely you are to have dangerous withdrawal symptoms requiring medical care.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any form of addiction or abuse, please call Sylvan Detox at (818) 308-3099.

16 Signs of Withdrawal from Alcohol

There are several common signs of withdrawal from alcohol you and your medical team will want to look out for when you stop drinking. It is always recommended to speak to your doctor before you stop, and a medical detox program with full-time medical supervision is the safest route to take, so you will always have care available, day and night, as your body processes the chemical changes occurring inside the brain.

You will likely experience:

  • Mood swings, with anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion and insomnia
  • Shakiness or hand tremors
  • Cognitive impairment and brain fog
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • High body temperature
  • Rapid breathing
  • Alcohol cravings that can be difficult to resist

Around 3% to 5% of people in alcohol withdrawal will experience a serious condition called delirium tremens, which can escalate rapidly, requiring immediate medical care. The symptoms of the DTs include:

  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Fevers

Without treatment, this condition may lead to stroke, heart attack, and death. Although these deadly symptoms are most common in people who have been drinking heavily for a long time, it is unpredictable, and should always be considered a possibility.

A safe, supervised medical detox program will also keep you comfortable, providing medications that can help you through other difficult and dangerous issues like:

  • Discomfort, pain, and distress
  • Cravings that could lead to relapse if alcohol was available to you
  • Dehydration and vitamin depletion due to sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Overwhelming mental health issues like anxiety and depression
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures and other irregular brain activity
  • High fevers
  • Injuries due to hallucinations, confusion, and disturbed physical coordination

Detox from Alcohol: A Timeline

Every person’s experience is different when it comes to alcohol detox, but if you have been looking for the answer to the question “How long does it take to detox from alcohol,” the answer is 5 to 10 days, on average. Most people’s timeline goes as follows:

  • 6 to 12 hours after your last drink: mild withdrawal will begin, with headaches, tremors, stomach issues, and insomnia beginning to show up
  • 24 hours after your last drink: moderate withdrawal symptoms will begin, the heart beats faster, breathing becomes rapid, and in the case of serious withdrawal you may begin to hallucinate, feel confused, and develop a fever
  • 48 to 72 hours after your last drink – this is when severe withdrawal will begin, with disorientation, impairment, visual or auditory hallucinations, and seizures. Symptoms tend to be the worst on the third day for most people
  • 72 hours is usually when the worst of the symptoms will peak, after which time you will begin to feel better. Co-occurring mental health disorders and symptoms like irritability, fatigue and insomnia can last for weeks or even months.

Factors that may influence your detox timeline include your age, weight, genetics, metabolism, mental health, if you were using other drugs along with the alcohol, how long you have been drinking, and how much you were drinking. Your exact experience will vary, as each detox and rehab center is different, but in general, in most detox programs, you can expect the following:


When you first arrive at the treatment center, you will undergo a physical and mental health exam, as the treatment professionals get to know more about you, any medical issues you have had in the past, your history of drug and alcohol use, your current psychological state, and more. The goal is to figure out which treatments will be the most helpful to you, not to judge you or get you in trouble, so the more truthful you are during intake, the better the outcome will be. Many recovery centers will also want to learn about your recovery goals and whether you have any treatment preferences, working with you to customize your program. Intake is the first thing that happens in a detox program, getting you started out on the right foot.


Medical detox programs will provide prescription doses of FDA-approved medications, which will help get you through the most difficult first few days of your rehabilitation program. Detoxing without medical care can be very uncomfortable and scary, so along with 24-hour doctor’s care, you will be given medications to help with issues like pain, nausea, convulsions, hallucinations, shaking, anxiety, restlessness, high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression.

In some cases, further medications and holistic care will be provided as well, to help you deal with discomfort, anxiety, and pain in natural ways. The combination of evidence-based treatment with holistic or traditional methodologies will give you the best of both worlds and increase your overall wellness. Medication and other treatments are given as soon as you need them, and may continue for days or weeks after your last drink.


Detox can take a few days to a few weeks, with the average person in their medical detox program for 5 to 10 days for alcohol detox.

After detox, a full rehabilitation program beginning with inpatient treatment is often recommended, with some people staying in residential care for 30 days, and some staying longer. Some people are ready to return home and get back to work right away, while others need long-term rehab to overcome deep-seated issues and regain their sense of self. Rehab is customized to help you become the sober individual you want to be. Once you complete your inpatient rehab, there are several types of outpatient and aftercare programs for you to access, that can help make the transition back to normal life easier.

Detox from Alcohol with Expert Help from Sylvan Detox

Sylvan detox is a luxury rehab center, providing top-tier evidence-based therapies and treatments that will help you heal, within a relaxed, lush, and secure rehabilitation center where you can relax and recover in comfort. We have amenities that will keep you comfortable, safe, and cared for as you detoxify your body, and rejuvenate your spirit.

When you are in a medical detox program with Sylvan Detox, you can rest assured that your health and wellness will be taken care of. This includes care like:

  • 24/7 onsite nursing care, with a full-time on-call doctor, day and night to ensure you are safe and that your treatments are progressing to plan, with prescription medications provided to help with high blood pressure, avoid seizures, and keep your body safe as it purges the toxins from your system
  • A full psychiatric evaluation by a medical doctor, with mental health care and counseling, dual diagnosis treatments, and prescription psychiatric medications provided as needed
  • Medication management services, with full-time nurses watching over your symptoms and providing prescription medications to help you stay comfortable, rest easier, avoid nausea and other discomfort so you do not have to needlessly suffer during your detox
  • If you are also detoxing from drugs like benzodiazepines or opioids, we offer a medication assisted treatment plan for tapering off that includes the use of suboxone, Subutex, and other medications
  • Meetings with a certified therapist at least once a day, to help get you started on your recovery journey, begin exploring the reasons behind your alcohol abuse, and help you deal with any difficult emotions or unhelpful thoughts you may be having
  • Care to help your body begin to recover, including delicious and nutritious food, hydration, and the option to do some light exercise if you wish

Once your alcohol detox program has completed, you will be cleared to move forward into a customized alcohol rehab treatment plan. Inpatient treatment at Sylvan Detox provides an alcohol treatment program that is focused on keeping you comfortable for as long as you stay with us. As one of only six patients onsite at one time, you will move into a safe, secure, comfortable room with a luxury mattress and a plush comforter on your bed. We provide housekeeping services and meals cooked by a private chef so that you can focus all your energy on healing, instead of worrying about cooking or vacuuming.

Rehab is not a punishment. Think of it more like going to a specialized health spa. You are taking care of your body and your mental health, learning new skills, and working on the underlying psychological issues that may be holding you back in your life. If anything, rehab is something to be proud of. You are doing the work to make yourself healthier and working toward a more productive and happier future for yourself, while oftentimes bettering your relationships with friends and family. Leaving rehab, you will feel better equipped not only to resist drugs and alcohol, but to deal with every type of stressful situation, communicate more clearly, live life the way you want to live it, and stay on a healthy living track. You will feel better about yourself, with more confidence, and better control over the trajectory of your life.

Some of the therapies and care you can expect when you rehabilitate with the Sylvan Detox team include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • 40 to 47 hours of group therapy a week
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Creative healing programs
  • Goal setting and obtaining practice
  • 12-Step principles and fellowship introductions
  • Nutritional health and wellness treatment plan
  • Strength-building
  • Seeking safety counseling
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Anger management
  • Denial management and relapse prevention

We have a dual diagnosis program that combines substance abuse treatment with mental health care, treating those with co-occurring disorders like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, clinical depression, eating disorder, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impulse control disorder, PTSD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and more. Treating all mental health issues with addiction together in one integrated program will break the cycle of turning to alcohol or drug use to treat mental health symptoms, leading to worsening issues, and even more substance abuse.

At Sylvan Detox, we know that it takes more than a few medical procedures for long-term recovery to take hold. Being able to relax into your treatment, without the external pressures and stress of your everyday life, will give you the freedom and the ability to heal the mind, body, and spirit. You don’t need to be distracted by temptations, so we ensure our facility remains completely drug- and alcohol-free at all times. Along with our evidence-based care, we encourage our clients to take part in alternative therapies, as they are useful in creating a stronger body-mind connection, improving mental health, and helping the body to heal and become stronger. These include:

  • Yoga
  • Sound therapy
  • Massage
  • Breathwork therapy
  • Saltwater therapy
  • Jungian therapy
  • Sound healing

Sylvan is a luxury facility with a focus on the comfort and security of our guests, ensuring confidentiality, high-end amenities, and security services that will ensure the privacy of celebrity, executive, and high-profile guests, so you can let your guard down and work toward achieving your recovery goals. Some creature comforts we provide include:

  • Spacious common rooms where you can read, chat with other residents, play games, or just hang out
  • Outdoor living areas with a patio with a barbecue, providing full privacy from the outside world so you can enjoy the California sunshine without fear of paparazzi
  • Smart TV so you can  stream your favorite programs in your down time so you can relax and feel at home
  • Three meals a day cooked by a private chef, and we also provide a 24-hour snack bar, as we do not restrict our guests’ eating
  • A pool table, a ping-pong table, and a basketball hoop so you can stay active and have fun
  • A homey and comfortable  ambiance, providing personalized attention without a clinical feel
  • Store runs by our staff to purchase snacks, tobacco, or other food items for you with your own money

Treatments are more effective when you are not feeling the stress of everyday life, so when you live inside our luxurious residences, the first few days will be what is known as a “blackout period”, where you can simply rest and relax. After this portion of your treatment, you will have specified times in which you can use your phone to contact loved ones and friends for support and to let them know how it is going.  

You can trust our expert medical team to take care of your health as you begin the journey of recovery in our peaceful, calm, and 100% sober facility. It is important to us that you have all the support and comfort you deserve as you undergo treatment for alcohol addiction. It is not an easy process, and there may be periods where you feel physically or emotionally unwell, so we will do all we can to be there for you, not only with behavioral therapy and other treatments, but with staff who truly care about your well-being.

We provide case management services, life skills groups, weekly aftercare planning groups, and long-term connections to outpatient programs, support groups, and recovery resources in your area, so once your time in our inpatient program is complete, you will have several options to consider. We will make sure you are confident in your next step and that you are armed with relapse prevention and stress management tools, aftercare programming, and the knowledge that you always have somewhere to turn if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Now that you know how long detox takes, and you feel ready to take the next step toward recovery, you can contact Sylvan Detox to get started. We have a confidential 24-hour hotline dedicated to answering questions and helping you to figure out a realistic recovery plan that will work for you. Our phone number is 818-308-3099.