For a lot of people, the first step of moving towards drug or alcohol treatment is detox. Detox could involve withdrawal from either drugs or alcohol. While some people can handle going to a detox center, others have a significantly harder time dealing with the withdrawal symptoms. There are several reasons that many people decide to undergo detox. It doesn’t have to be because they’re dealing with a drug problem.
Prolonged usage of any substance, especially alcohol, can alter the way the body functions. Someone who’s been drinking alcohol for a long time might have a body reliant on receiving the substance to function normally. Detoxing from the substance shocks the body, which results in the individual suffering several symptoms.
Among these symptoms, one of the most debilitating ones can be diarrhea. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable discussing their bowel movements, and understandably so. However, dealing with diarrhea during detox can be incredibly taxing. So, here’s everything that you need to know about whether alcohol detox causes diarrhea or not.
What Is Detox?
Detox has certainly become quite the buzzword in recent times. There are many different types of detox diets, supplements, programs that are all the rage. A detox put quite simply is the process of detoxifying your body. An alcohol detox serves the same purpose and is a way of thoroughly flushing out alcohol from the body.
How Does Alcohol Detox Cause Diarrhea?
Experiencing diarrhea after going on a detox isn’t just restricted to alcohol. Users of other drugs may also experience diarrhea after initiating the detox. That’s because the detox pushes users into alcohol withdrawal.
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms appear 6-24 hours after an individual initiates the detox. The nature of these symptoms varies, and their duration also depends on several factors; among the most common signs that individuals report are anxiety, restlessness, cravings, and diarrhea. The severity of these symptoms may also vary depending on the individual.
What Causes These Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Diarrhea?
The primary cause of these withdrawal symptoms is dependency. Users who are infrequent alcohol drinkers or only drink casually may experience no symptoms from alcohol detox. However, those that drink regularly will definitely experience some form of withdrawal symptoms, including diarrhea.
Alcohol is a depressant by nature, and after prolonged use, the body begins to rely on receiving alcohol readily for its functions. The brain will eventually stop producing certain chemicals and rely on receiving them from alcohol and becomes dependent. As a result, it takes time for the body to resume normal bodily functions after a detox. This is the leading cause of diarrhea after going on an alcohol detox.
What Factors Impact the Likelihood of Detox Causing Diarrhea?
Not everyone that goes on an alcohol detox will suffer from diarrhea or other withdrawal symptoms. Some people don’t struggle with withdrawal symptoms at all, while others often suffer a great deal for different lengths of time. There are several variables that impact the likelihood of experience diarrhea and other withdrawal symptoms after an alcohol detox.
The level of alcohol an individual consumes before going on a detox has a significant impact on whether they’ll experience diarrhea or other withdrawal symptoms. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA), the moderate amount that’s safe to consume is one alcoholic drinks on any single day for women and two alcoholic drinks on any single day for men.
It extends to seven alcoholic drinks per week for women and 14 for men. Anything above this qualifies as heavy drinking, and those users are more prone to experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms and diarrhea.
Nature of Consumption
Binge drinking is one of the biggest causes of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is one of the most popular forms of alcohol consumption, especially among younger drinkers. Most people that start drinking at an early stage binge drink regularly. Binge drinking is the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session. Generally, for men, it’s defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks during a single session, and for women it’s having four or more drinks.
The issue with binge drinking is that it causes withdrawal symptoms to settle in more quickly. As a result, individuals who binge drink every other week are more likely to fall into a cycle of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, then drinking again to relieve them. Going on a detox after a binge drinking session can definitely increase the likelihood of the individual suffering diarrhea.
The Nature of Detox
Going on a detox, completely cold turkey is another reason why most people experience severe withdrawal symptoms and diarrhea. Those that can taper down their daily use before engaging in the detox have a significantly easier time than those that go into the detox completely cold turkey. These individuals are at a much lower risk of suffering from withdrawal symptoms or diarrhea.
However, for many users who drink regularly, it’s difficult to cut down and reduce daily usage. Most people suffering from alcohol addictions that attempt to taper down their usage and then detox tend to never reach the detox stage.
While this might not be related to alcohol, the individuals’ diet also significantly impacts them suffering diarrhea after the detox process. Those who follow a balanced diet and eat healthily are less likely to suffer from diarrhea after detox. The amount of fiber in an individual’s diet also has a significant impact on their gut health. People with a healthy gut are less likely to experience any diarrhea when they engage in alcohol detox.
General Alcohol Detox Timeline
Individuals that go through with alcohol detox will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms after seven to eight hours after the last drink. Those that don’t engage in heavy drinking will start to experience symptoms tapering off in 48 hours.
However, everyone is different, and some people will experience uncomfortable side effects for several days. Generally, heavy drinkers will start to experience worse symptoms after the first two days. These symptoms may include severe diarrhea, seizures, or even delirium tremens.
Is Alcohol Detox Dangerous?
Once again, this is another factor that varies from individual to individual and depends on how severe the withdrawal symptoms are. A severe case of diarrhea can be especially debilitating during a detox. The body is already suffering from dehydration as it works overtime to eliminate any potential toxins. In the most severe of circumstances, diarrhea may even result in hospitalization due to dehydration or low nutrient absorbency.
For heavy alcohol drinkers looking to undergo a complete detox, the best option is to seek out care at a specialist alcohol detox center.
What’s an Alcohol Detox Center?
An alcohol detox center is a place designed to help aid individuals suffering severe withdrawal symptoms in the recovery process. There is the option to visit an alcohol detox center in Texas as well. Each detox center is known for using specific types of coping mechanisms to help aid with the rehabilitation process.
There’s the option to use a faith-based detox center in Texas. While people who don’t regularly may not require such medical attention, these centers are vital in aiding those suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms.
How to Deal with Detox Caused Diarrhea
There are several different steps that individuals can take to relieve the uncomfortable side effects of diarrhea. These different techniques include prescriptions, natural options, and even food choices.
Keeping hydrated is one of the best natural remedies for diarrhea and is crucial when undergoing a detox. Drinking lots of water and additional fluids can help negate any additional discomfort caused by dehydration.
It’s absolutely essential that individuals increase their fluid intake during the recovery, and the recommended intake is 2 to 4 liters a day. Taking electrolytes is especially helpful as users lack calcium, potassium, and magnesium during the alcohol detox. Any enhanced hydration beverages like sports drinks are ideal for restoring electrolytes.
Probiotics are available in the form of supplements, and they provide intestines with beneficial microflora. These are good bacteria that help protect the gut and are essential for normal functioning in an individual’s gastrointestinal system. A lot of research showcases that probiotics can help speed up an individual’s recovery from diarrhea.
For those that don’t believe in the effectiveness of natural remedies, there are always over-the-counter solutions.
An OTC remedy that’s effective in less serious conditions. It helps treat and prevent diarrhea by slowing down the gastrointestinal system.
Pepto-Bismol is also useful in treating nausea and loose stools. It will relieve the stomach and help stop diarrhea.
While Clonidine isn’t designed specifically to treat diarrhea symptoms, many research showcases that it functions as an anti-diarrheal for people suffering from opiate withdrawal. They also recommend that Clonidine only serves as a last resort for when all other alternatives have failed.
Lastly, one of the most effective solutions for those suffering from diarrhea is following a healthy diet. There are a lot of different kinds of food that help with diarrhea.
Yogurt with active cultures contains bacteria that help significantly reduce both the severity and time duration of diarrhea. Before picking the yogurt, it’s essential to read the label and look for brands that don’t have high sugar. Sugar and artificial sweeteners can contribute to intestinal gas and loose stool.
Those soups that are high in sodium are especially beneficial during detox induced diarrhea. As the body is already suffering from dehydration, the extra sodium helps retain water and prevent dehydration.
BRAT is an acronym that’s synonymous with treating diarrhea. It represents four simple and easily digestible foods that aid in treating diarrhea. These foods are bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Each of these contains low amounts of fiber and help make the stool firmer.
- Bananas are high in potassium, which is a nutrient the body is down on during the detox. They also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps move the stool smoothly.
- White rice is easily digestible and contains loads of carbohydrates. Those that struggle with eating plain white rice can also have rice cooked in chicken broth.
- Applesauce that contains natural sweeteners is easily digestible and aids in diarrhea treatment.
- Toast is a decent source of carbohydrate and is easy to digest as well.
When it comes to a definitive answer regarding whether alcohol detox can cause diarrhea, it’s hard to go with either yes or no. The truth is that it depends on several variable factors. Still, some individuals might suffer from diarrhea, and others may not. However, it’s isn’t all bleak as there are several solutions that individuals can use to aid diarrhea.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction as well as the pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center’s status at the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content creation. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.