In undergoing detox and recovering from alcohol addiction, the only definite is that everybody is different. From person to person, the experiences can differ greatly. But although you can’t compare the specifics of your recovery to anybody else’s, there might be some similarities along the way.
A Full Recovery
Recovery can often be a misunderstood term in relation to alcoholism, with it meaning different things to people throughout society. Because of the physical, mental, and social aspects of the recovery process, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) came up with a precise definition in November 2014.
The NCADD definition is as follows: “Recovery is a goal of alcohol treatment, and recovery-oriented systems of care are being developed to support that goal. Alcoholics who no longer drink, and are trying to pursue an improved way of living/being, say that they are in recovery”.
Therefore, a full recovery can be thought of as undergoing treatment and then maintaining a worthwhile existence free of alcohol.
The First Few Days
Every alcoholic attempting recovery will have to start with detoxification. In terms of timing, the detox duration will start from the moment that you cease your consumption of alcohol. During the first few hours of your first day, your body will begin to crave. In turn, your mind will feed the desire as you start the withdrawal process.
During those first few days, an array of symptoms will emerge, brought on by the fact that your mind and body are starting to adjust to a life without alcohol. While some addicts will go cold turkey, others might have to undertake a slower withdrawal overseen by medical professionals.
In just six to 12 hours after withdrawal, emerging symptoms can include anxiety, nausea, headaches, sweating, shaky hands, and insomnia. Over the first few days, symptoms can later include disorientation, temporary hallucinations, seizures, high blood pressure, and irregular heart beat. However, most withdrawal symptoms will eventually end after 72 hours.
The First Month
The next major milestone in the alcohol rehab time frame is the first month. A week into the recovery process, the worst of the physical withdrawal symptoms will have needed. However, symptoms might last for a few weeks for addicts who are also withdrawing from the long-term use of drugs (known as Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms).
Outside of those symptoms, some new ones will emerge in the first month, and these often remain during much of the first year – maybe even all of it for some. In the first month, there is a general feeling of depression, and that can often lead to a difficulty in maintaining concentration. While trying to cope with your new self, low self-confidence is another part of the depression.
Seek support from your friends, family, sponsor, or medical professional if you are ever feeling desperately in need. Although low moments can emerge suddenly, they generally lessen after 30 minutes to an hour. Speaking to someone will help you through it and give you hope for progression.
The First Six Months
Having completed the first six months of your recovery and navigated the multitude of withdrawal symptoms, some addicts considerable confidence from their achievements, and they should be proud. However, there is a real danger in being overconfident at this stage in your recovery timeline.
Social relationships are often a major catalyst in addiction, with many addicts having previously spent time in the company of fellow addicts. After six months of sobriety, you might feel confident enough to spend time with former drinking buddies. But, seeing as they are drinking buddies, you will likely have to be in the presence of alcohol when you see them.
The most effective way to avoid a relapse is to not spend time around drinking buddies or alcohol. And you will never be able to stop at one drink with them; so don’t ever think that you can.
One Year Later
After completing your first year of recovery, you need a moment of celebration with the people close to you. Chances are, this will have been the hardest year of your life, learning how to cope with the daily challenges thrown up by your emotions. At this stage, the odds of suffering a relapse are much lower, and that’s because you understand what your mind and body need to remain sober.
By getting to where you are now, you have been working with an approach that works for your life. Don’t ever think about slacking off or getting lazy. Doing what works will give you the continuity that you need to continue.
There isn’t a perfect roadmap for the alcohol recovery timeline, but there are stages that you and other alcoholics will encounter during recovery. Having made it more than a year into your recovery, you have a wonderful chance to maintain that through the rest of your life.