The uncertainty of what happens during alcohol detox is one reason you may not want to try it. You’re not sure of how your body system will react to a procedure involving zero alcohol.

Also, you may have read or heard about the symptoms that come with alcohol detox programs. This knowledge is enough to keep you anxious about alcohol detox.

However, in most cases, it’s not always as complex as you think it is —  you’re only assuming. According to Healthline, you’ll stop seeing signs of detoxification in less than a week of your last drink.

Once you have a firm mindset that wants to stop taking alcohol, alcohol detox will be easier for you. However, trying to detox on your own may not be the wisest option to choose.

Detoxification may be about your drive, but it’s not exactly a simple task for you to take on. You’ll need the care and monitoring of medical professionals. Alcohol detox also involves counselling and therapy sessions. These are necessary to prepare you for rehab treatments that come after detox.

In this article, we’ll take you on a journey of what happens during alcohol detox. We’ll explore the symptoms, the procedure and the different types of medications used during alcohol detox.

What Happens During Alcohol Detox?

Unfortunately, alcohol is a “celebrated” commodity across the globe. There are different types of alcoholic drinks available. Worse, they are not super expensive. Hardly will you come across an adult who hasn’t attempted alcohol because it’s everywhere. Little wonder why a study shows more than 85% of all adults have consumed alcohol before.

When you take alcohol moderately, it will have little or no noticeable effect on you. But when you continue to take it consistently, it’ll reach a point when addiction sets in. At this point, you may not know it, but you’ll begin to depend on alcohol. That addiction is what breeds the fear of what to expect during alcohol detox.

We are not saying alcohol detox doesn’t come with any side effects. The symptoms of alcohol detox can be severe depending on the level of alcohol addiction.

For instance, a chronic alcoholic can’t just stop drinking alcohol for three days and claim freedom. In no time, such a person will be back to drinking alcohol. But with time and medical support, an alcoholic can unlearn intense drinking habits. However, this process may take time and will come with some symptoms.

Some alcohol detox symptoms include:

Physical symptoms

physical symptoms

The physical symptoms that come with the procedure for alcohol detox can sometimes be numerous. However, how extensive the physical symptoms are depends on your body system.

So, what happens during alcohol detox for you may differ from what happens for another person. In light of that, it would be best if you didn’t get scared because of someone else’s alcohol detox experience.

Alcohol goes directly to the brain and has effects on both the brain and physical appearance. That’s why when you have had a little too much to drink; you can’t think straight. At the same time, you may not have the ability to carry out physical activities properly.

So what happens during alcohol detox is your brain tries to return to its normal state. This will come with a lot of physical and emotional symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms of alcohol detox include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nauseous feelings
  • Seizures
  • Sweating profusely
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Unnecessary shaking
  • Tremors

Emotional changes to expect during alcohol detox include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Fear
  • Confusion
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Illusion
  • Irritation
  • Appetite loss
  • Mood changes
  • Restlessness
  • Bad dreams
  • Unnecessary agitation

Of course, the number of symptoms listed above may make you feel like avoiding alcohol detox. Because truthfully, if this is what happens during alcohol detox, then no one will want to go through it. However, not all of these symptoms will occur to only you. The above symptoms are just the general symptoms of alcohol detox.

You may only experience a few symptoms. It all depends on your body system and prior alcohol consumption habits. This is why alcohol detox experts prefer to classify these symptoms as phases. Let’s take a brief look at that;

  • Phase 1: This phase occurs during the early stages of alcohol detox. It is the point when you just recently stopped taking in alcohol. In most cases, this phase is where intense symptoms show forth. Symptoms to expect during this stage of alcohol detox include anxiety, vomiting, heavy sweating, restlessness, increased pressure. This phase may last between hours and some days.
  • Phase 2: In most cases, this stage occurs after the alcohol detox is over. Phase 2 can extend for months after detox. The symptoms at this phase may include; depression, mood changes, among others.

For heavy alcohol addicts, alcohol detox is a different ball game. Here, we describe these symptoms as alcohol withdrawal syndrome.  You can call these symptoms delirium tremens (DT).

This is the most intense symptom that happens during alcohol detox. In most cases, it’s a clear indication the patient’s alcohol intake was very extreme. Symptoms of this syndrome include:

  • Perplexed state
  • Seeing non-existent images
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Extreme restlessness
  • Seizures

Related Article: What is the Pricing for Alcohol Detox in Ontario?

Procedure for Alcohol Detox

Now that you know what alcohol detox symptoms look like, you need to understand how alcohol detox activities work. The process is mostly the same in any medical centre across the country. So the alcohol detox programs in Ontario may not have much difference in comparison to other parts of the country.

What may change in most cases is the expertise, experience, style, and price of the medical detox program. In most cases, detoxing is the first step to alcohol addiction treatments. That’s why the detox stage is crucial if you want to break free from alcohol.

Below is a step-by-step procedure describing the procedure for alcohol detox:


In every detox centre, the first thing experts will do is to research your alcohol intake. They’ll need to confirm the type of alcohol and the amount you have been taking. Also, they may want to check if it’s only alcohol addiction treatment you need.

You can have an underlying addiction without you knowing. This issue may affect the kind of symptoms you’ll show during alcohol detox. In turn, it will also affect what happens during your alcohol detox. Also, other illnesses you’re treating will influence your alcohol detox process.

For instance, let’s assume you are a hypertensive person who needs alcohol detox. First, there’s a likelihood you may show symptoms of hypertension during alcohol detox. In that case, the medical needs to know about this so they can get the correct medication and support to help you.

So you see, this research at the beginning of the alcohol helps the detox provider to understand your condition. With that understanding, they can provide comprehensive solutions and care for alcohol detox. This is why alcohol detox programs are customized to the individual.



This is the part of alcohol detox where you need the assistance of professionals the most. Of course, the main driving force to withdrawing from alcohol is your belief. However, you’ll be wrong if you believe you can stop drinking on your own.

First, the fact that you got addicted to alcohol wasn’t a one-day process. It was a gradual process that continued to grow as you consistently took alcohol. So, you can’t just decide one day that you’re drinking alcohol no more. It’ll take a gradual process and a consistent decision.

With the assistance of medical professionals, you’ll be able to deal with the cravings that come during alcohol detox. For one, there is a zero alcohol policy in all detox centres. Secondly, you’ll have expert counselling and help to develop the skills to manage alcohol cravings.

Drug administration

The levels at which you drink alcohol may differ from that of a friend. This same situation goes for two different people who are alcohol addicts. What this means is the level at which person A gets addicted will differ from person B’s addiction. Consequently, the treatment methods can not be exact.

For some alcohol addiction detox programs, the patient may not need any drug for the detox process. But in some other cases, the patient may need a lot of drugs as a supplement. The level of drug administration depends totally on the severity of the patients’ condition and the experts’ decision.

The drugs the doctor will administer depends on the symptoms of the patient. Common drugs medical experts may prescribe during alcohol detox include;

  • Nutritious drugs: Large volumes of alcohol in the system will disrupt the body’s nutrients. The doctor can prescribe medicines like folic acid to replace body nutrients.
  • Benzodiazepines: A doctor will recommend this drug for a patient who has signs of seizures.
  • Nervous system medications: As the name implies, these drugs help to balance the nervous system.

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?

“How long?” That’s one question everyone always asks. The timeline for detox depends mainly on the severity of the condition. Usually, the period for detox shouldn’t exceed a week, but this depends on some factors. These factors include:

  • The type of symptoms.
  • The amount of alcohol consumption.
  • Underlying health issues
  • Physical and emotional well-being.

You may start experiencing some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal after about six hours. These symptoms may worsen as time goes by and may reach their peak by the third day. If this is you, you’ll complete alcohol detox in a week.

However, if it takes longer for alcohol detox symptoms to reach their peak, you may end up spending longer in detox. Alcohol detox programs can extend to month-long programs.

How to Prepare for Alcohol Detox?

If you’re looking for an honest answer, there’s no particular way to prepare for alcohol detox. We say this because it largely depends on your decision and determination. You have to know it’s not going to be an easy process. Here are some steps you can follow;

  • First, accept you’re an addict and you need help.
  • Have strong determination to fight the addiction.
  • Contact a trusted medical practitioner with alcohol detox experience.
  • Stay true and consistent with the healing process.

Related Article: What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Detox?


What happens during alcohol detox isn’t as scary as the media makes it seem. Mostly, starting is the hardest part of it all. The process of getting out of alcohol addiction begins from your mind. Once you decide to enrol in an alcohol detox program, you have no limits.

That doesn’t mean the process is going to be easy or short. You may not spend up to a week during detox, but those days will be long. You may experience symptoms that may tempt you to go back to your drinking ways. Some other symptoms may make you feel sick, which is why you need medical intervention.

Here at Medical Detox Toronto, we have the staff and the equipment to help you recover safely and effectively. Let’s help you build a solid foundation for sobriety through alcohol detox. Contact us today!

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