Substance Use

Steps To Recovery: Alcohol Recovery Timeline

road to recovery

Steps To Recovery: Alcohol Recovery Timeline

According to the latest survey data available from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one in eight Americans meets the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. Alcohol abuse is a sneaky disorder that often starts innocently at the dinner table or social gatherings and eventually escalates into a full-blown alcohol addiction. The good news is that recovery is possible, and you can get a good idea of what an alcohol recovery timeline looks like in a treatment program for alcoholism.

Are you concerned about your drinking habits or a loved one’s drinking? Call Zinnia Healing’s alcohol abuse hotline anytime, day or night, at (855) 430-9439 and talk to an experienced staff member. Help with alcohol addiction treatment is here at Zinnia Healing.

The Alcoholism Recovery Timeline: What Leads Someone to Seek Treatment?

In a publication by the University of Maryland at Baltimore, the Jellinek Curve theory illustrates the stages of alcohol use and alcohol abuse as a curve, starting with the early stages of alcohol addiction.

The curve’s downswing represents the user’s decline into alcoholism, and it’s what causes them to eventually seek treatment due to the side effects of ongoing heavy drinking.

The alcoholism recovery timeline typically looks like this:

  • Hitting rock bottom and feeling entirely hopeless. Desperately seeking a way out.
  • Feeling a strong, honest desire to get help.
  • Beginning to address the physical and mental side effects of drinking.
  • Feeling a renewed sense of hope and self-esteem and starts developing a realistic plan to quit drinking.
  • New interests in sober relationships and activities develop.

The Alcoholism Recovery Timeline: What to Consider

No two people experience substance use disorders the same way. So, it’s important to remember that everyone’s timeline for stages of recovery from alcoholism will look different. The following factors impact how long the recovery process will take:

  • How long you’ve been drinking
  • How often you’ve been drinking
  • How much you’ve been drinking
  • Your personal medical history
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Your home environment

Stages of Alcohol Addiction Recovery

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are four stages of alcohol recovery:

1. Treatment Initiation

The first stage of recovery is taking a step toward addiction treatment — whether you end up pursuing or completing treatment or not. However, whether you enter treatment voluntarily or involuntarily, you can’t start recovering until you complete an alcohol detox program.

The goal of the first stage of recovery is to find a treatment team that will help you commit to a treatment plan with long-term alcohol abstinence as your end goal.

2. Abstinence (Early Phase)

The early abstinence phase of alcohol recovery can be one of the hardest because of the psychological and physical dependence on alcohol, the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that come with detoxing from long-term alcohol use, and the physical cravings for the substance.

According to the National Library of Medicine, withdrawal symptoms typically occur within eight hours of your last drink, but they can sometimes take a few days to appear. Withdrawal symptoms peak around 24-72 hours after the last drink but can last for weeks.

The most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating
  • Clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate

Delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal, can lead to:

  • Fever
  • Severe confusion
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

During this early stage of recovery, it’s important to use the tools and strategies you’ve learned from your healthcare provider to minimize your risk of relapsing.

Ready to start your recovery journey? Call Zinnia Healing 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our treatment options. Take your first step to the future with Zinnia Healing.

3. Abstinence (Maintenance) 

When you’ve abstained from alcohol for about three months, you’ll enter the third stage of recovery: abstinence maintenance.

If you started your recovery journey in inpatient rehab, you will be moved to outpatient treatment during this phase, where you will continue to embrace a sober lifestyle and work to prevent relapse.

You will continue learning healthy habits, including making connections and friendships that support a sober lifestyle and the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet. During this stage, you’ll start to look and feel healthier.

According to NIDA, the maintenance stage lasts until you have been sober for five years.

4. Advanced Recovery

The final stage of recovery starts when you have been sober for five consecutive years.

In this stage, you’ll focus on long-term sobriety and goals while maintaining a consistent, productive lifestyle routine.

You will continue to foster relationships conducive to long-term sobriety and lean on support groups and family members when staying sober becomes challenging.

Alcohol Recovery Timeline: The First Few Days and Beyond

Once your body becomes dependent on alcohol, and you stop drinking, you may experience intense side effects as your body adjusts to the absence of alcohol. Here’s what to expect in those first few days and weeks.

1 Hour After You Stop Drinking

During this initial stage, your body will kick into high gear to rid your bloodstream of alcohol and prevent alcohol poisoning. An hour after your last drink, your liver will also start working overtime to clear the alcohol from your system.

12-24 Hours After You Stop Drinking

The biggest change that happens 12-24 hours after quitting drinking is your blood sugar will likely stabilize. Most people feel dehydrated during this stage, so keep water nearby.

48 Hours After You Stop Drinking

Forty-eight hours after your last drink, your body will typically finish the biggest detox hurdle — the symptoms of withdrawal. Depending on your history of substance abuse, you may have lingering side effects like fatigue and headaches, but the worst side effects will have subsided at this point.

72 Hours After You Stop Drinking

By this point, all the hangover side effects should be gone, and you will start feeling like yourself again.

1 Week After Quitting Alcohol

By this point, you should be sleeping better and deeper, leading to mental clarity and a burst of physical energy. Your skin should start to clear up as hydration returns.

1 Month After Quitting Alcohol

After one month sober, your liver fat will reduce, increasing the liver’s ability to filter toxins from your body. Many people also notice weight loss at this point and continued improvements in their skin and mood.

1 Year After Quitting Alcohol

When you’ve been sober for an entire year, you may notice significant weight loss, depending on your dietary intake before and after alcohol detox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your risk of liver, breast, esophageal, and throat cancer will also decline.

Other benefits you will likely notice include a huge amount of money saved, improved performance at work and/or school, and improved relationships.

Benefits of Alcohol Recovery

The most significant benefits you will reap when you stop drinking include:

  • Your body will regain the ability to properly absorb nutrients and minerals from the food and drink you consume
  • Your metabolism will recover and start functioning at a normal rate again
  • Your energy and stamina levels will increase
  • Your risk of stroke and heart attack drops dramatically
  • Your blood pressure may decrease significantly if it was high
  • Your immune system will react more efficiently
  • In some cases, the damage done to your liver may reverse

Recover From Alcohol Addiction With Zinnia Healing

Are you ready to kick your alcohol addiction? Zinnia Healing has state-of-the-art treatment facilities around the country with a wide range of programs, therapies, and support groups to help you achieve long-term sobriety and get your life back.

Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 any time of the day or night and heal for good with Zinnia Healing.

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