How Long Does It Take The Body To Become Physically Dependent On Alcohol?

If you or a loved one tend to drink a lot of alcohol, it is best to get help before you become dependent on alcohol. How long does this take?

Addiction to alcohol or alcoholism is a complex process that differs from person to person. Someone can get addicted to alcohol after the first drink or after years of many drinks and different consumption levels. Therefore, individual circumstances will determine whether alcoholism occurs. Even though alcoholism, also called alcohol use disorder (AUD) or addiction to alcohol, is a disease that progresses in stages, there is no set timeline for when alcoholism happens. 

Alcoholism is a complex disease of the mind and emotions and ranges in severity depending on what happened to the individual to cause their alcoholism.

How Long Does It Take The Body To Become Physically Dependent On Alcohol?

What Causes Alcohol Addiction?

Fortunately, there has been decades and centuries of research and documentation about why some people can’t stop drinking and others can. The research has shown that people who develop alcoholism get addicted to alcohol when they share specific criteria. The factors that predispose some persons to become an alcoholic include: 

  • History of Trauma, Abuse (sexual or physical), neglect by caretaker or parent, and poverty
  • Mental Health Disorders
  • Family History of Addiction/Alcoholism
  • Exposure to alcohol at a young age

People with a history of childhood trauma are most vulnerable to developing Alcohol Use Disorders. (NIAAA)

How To Know If Someone is Drinking Too Much or Is an Alcoholic?

The most obvious sign is when someone drinks most of the time heavily when they drink. Alcoholics will not be able to have one or two drinks. To be clear, a heavy drinker has more than eight drinks a week for women and more than 15 drinks a week for men. Then there are binge drinkers who are most often on the verge of being alcoholic or already are one—a man binges when he drinks five or more drinks within two hours. And a woman binges when she drinks four or more drinks within two hours. Most often, people who drink heavily or binge are not alcoholics if they do not experience serious consequences due to their drinking. 

More Information on Identifying Alcoholism

People who are alcoholics don’t know when to stop drinking or how to do it. These people are fixated on the relief that alcohol gives them. This means they cannot control how much they consume, even if it causes severe problems at home, work, and financially. The identification of alcoholism is detailed, but generally, people who are alcoholics will have suffered adverse consequences due to their drinking. Most alcoholics also have failing health if they escape legal, financial, or relationship problems. Liver damage and other deadly conditions are likely when someone is an alcoholic. 

Does the Body Take A Long Time to Become Dependent On Alcohol?

Alcoholism will develop into a physical dependency which means the person must consume alcohol to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When someone has become physically dependent on alcohol, they have regularly consumed alcohol for many weeks or years. Some people also develop physical dependency faster, as in a matter of days. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are very dangerous and can easily cause death. The central nervous system and other primary bodily functions are severely impaired because of the effects of alcohol. Anyone experiencing alcohol withdrawals must be admitted into a medically supervised alcohol detox as soon as possible. 

What Do Experts Say About Addiction to Alcohol?

The National Institutes of Health report how dangerous alcohol withdrawal is, and this is why medications are necessary to ensure health and safety.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when an alcoholic abruptly stops or substantially reduces their alcohol consumption. Most patients manifest symptoms that may start as early as six to eight hours after an abrupt reduction in alcohol intake. Symptoms include hyperactivity, anxiety, tremor, sweating, nausea, retching, tachycardia, hypertension, and mild pyrexia, and seizures may occur in the first 12 to 48 hours and only rarely after this. Auditory and visual hallucinations may develop; these are characteristically frightening and may last for five to six days (NIH)

Help For Alcoholism Is One Phone Call For Same Day Admission

To get help for a loved one’s drinking or yourself, do not hesitate to call, and one of our clinical staff members will begin your admission. We are available to help you end your drinking or your loved ones struggle with alcohol today. All patients start in the alcohol detox unit and progress to an evidence-based treatment program that is personalized for their needs. So call to be admitted right now.