How Long Does It Take To Recover From Alcoholism

You have come to the conclusion that you need to make a change regarding your alcohol use. Like many New Mexico residents, your drinking has become a problem and you are ready to make positive change. However, like with all change, this one brings some anxiety. It might be that you find a lot of comfort from your alcohol use. You might be worried about undertaking a huge task without the thing that you have been using as a support. The good news is that recovery from alcohol use disorder is possible. Knowing what to expect can help you as you plan the start of your recovery journey.

What Is Alcoholism/Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder, or AUD,  is the clinical term for what is commonly called alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Alcoholism?

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is the process of the body learning to function normally after a person stops drinking alcohol. During withdrawal a person will feel a number of symptoms because the body has grown used to having alcohol and it is craving the substance to feel normal. Some of the symptoms that a person will feel during withdrawal are excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness, agitation, anxiety, and occasionally seizures.

In some cases symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can impair a person’s ability to function at work or in social situations. Alcohol withdrawal is only fatal in very rare instances. The process is unpleasant, and best undertaken with the support of professionals who can make you comfortable, and who have access to medications that can help with withdrawal symptoms.

Shadow Mountain Recovery provides those in recovery options to be supported by our inpatient program, meaning that they would receive support on site, or an outpatient program, meaning that a person could be supported in their home while they experience withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Someone who has alcohol use disorder will likely start their withdrawal symptoms around 6 hours after their last drink. The first symptoms to present themselves include anxiety, shaky hands, headache, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and sweating. Some who have used alcohol more heavily might experience hallucinations or seizures within the first two days of starting an alcohol detox. Rare symptoms present in those who have used a very heavy amount of alcohol include vivid hallucinations and delusions from 48-72 hours after detox starts. These symptoms are only present in around 5% of those who detox from alcohol. 

The worst symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically end after 72 hours. In some cases mild  symptoms linger for around 5 weeks. It is common to experience cravings and emotional effects related to alcohol use after detox is complete. It is recommended that a person has a plan to address these ongoing conditions as they continue in their recovery.

Natural Recovery of Liver and Other Organs After Long-Term Alcohol Use

After a person stops using alcohol, many of the body’s organs that were damaged by alcohol use start to heal. A person’s liver, which filters out toxins from the body, is often one of the organs most affected by alcohol use disorder. Someone who drinks heavily, which is 15 drinks a week for men or 8 a week for women, can seriously damage their liver. However, when alcohol is removed from a person’s body the liver is able to start to repair itself. The most significant thing a person can do to heal their liver from the effects of alcohol use is to stop drinking.

The GI tract is another part of the body that is damaged by heavy alcohol use. This is the part of the body that comes in contact with alcohol before the liver and is therefore susceptible to the same level of toxicity that the liver encounters. Heavy alcohol use can interfere with the functions of the GI tract and can impair the absorption of important nutrients into a person’s body. Luckily studies have shown that a 3 week abstinence from alcohol will heal most of the issues present in the GI tract of someone with AUD.

Chronic alcohol use is also commonly associated with pancreatitis, a disease of the pancreas that is classified as either acute or chronic. When this condition occurs, heavy drinking is believed to weaken the pancreas, leaving it susceptible to harm from other factors. As with the other organs listed, the pancreas is able to recover when alcohol use is ended.

An alcohol related condition that affects a person’s heart is alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Heavy alcohol use causes parts of the heart to stretch and enlarge. That weakens a person’s heart muscle, keeping it from pumping as well as it should. Over time, this means your heart can’t pump blood as effectively, which reduces your body’s available oxygen supply. If untreated this can become a serious condition, with the potential to require a heart transplant, but in many cases a person’s heart is able to repair itself if they end their alcohol use. 

Alcohol can cause different medical conditions in many organs, but the key thing to remember is that if you have developed an alcohol related medical condition the best thing you can do is stop drinking alcohol as soon as possible. In many cases the affected organs will make a full or partial recovery only from this action.

How Common Is Alcohol Use Disorder in New Mexico?

Many people in the state of New Mexico struggle with alcohol use disorder. In fact, New Mexico has the highest rate of alcohol related deaths in the nation with 1 in 5 deaths among people between the ages of 20 and 64 being alcohol related.  In New Mexico it is not that heavy drinking is common. Many people in the state choose to abstain from alcohol use. The main issue is that those who do drink alcohol typically consume a large amount. While alcohol use disorder is a serious issue for the residents of New Mexico, the support needed for recovery is available to those who are ready to seek treatment.  

Start Your Treatment at Shadow Mountain Recovery

Shadow Mountain has four facilities in New Mexico. If you or your loved one would benefit from alcohol addiction treatment, please contact (855) 650-6860 to start your journey toward recovery today.


FAQs: Recovery From Alcoholism

The timeline for alcohol withdrawal symptoms varies. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within 8 hours after the last drink; however, alcohol withdrawal symptoms could start days later, too. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually peak or reach the highest level of intensity by 24 to 72 hours after the last drink, but could continue on for weeks. Most organs are able to recover partially or even fully, but how long that will take depends on many factors, such as how long and how much someone drank.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually peak or reach the highest level of intensity by 24 to 72 hours after the last drink, but could continue on for weeks. Most organs are able to recover partially or even fully, but how long that will take depends on many factors, such as how long and how much someone drank.

The liver is capable of regenerating or re-growing itself. Every time the liver filters alcohol, some liver cells die. The liver can develop new cells. However, it is important to be aware that ongoing alcohol misuse over many years can reduce the liver’s ability to repair.

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