Alcohol addiction withdrawal can be a real setback. The massive misbalance and biological changes can take a toll on your liver health. But, with a proper medical detox, you can start with a clean slate.
“The first step is always the hardest.”
Remember, it takes a lot of courage and dedication to stop this dreadful drinking habit. Even though it’s a delicate and complex process, you can always turn the table. If you’re preparing for a complete alcohol detox, you’ve come to the right place.
We compiled all the necessary tips, tricks, and management protocols every patient needs to know about. With the guides listed below, you’ll finally get a clear picture of how a complete alcohol detox process looks like. So, let’s get right to it.
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox for alcohol is a process that will literally flush out all the toxins from the system. When the system creates a dependency on a certain substance, in this case, the alcohol, it’s essential to remove it.
Otherwise, it will cause a range of different behavioral, psychological, and physical symptoms. Medical detox provides the body with a safe way to overcome alcohol withdrawal. It’s usually done with the help of proper meds and under direct supervision.
If you’re in need of professional help, it’s best to search for a medical detox near me. A local alcohol detox center can help you stay on track.
Why Do I Need a Medical Detox for Alcohol?
Did you know? Excessive drinking is the reason for 2.8 million premature deaths every single year. That’s right! And there are over 8 million people who are completely dependent on consuming alcohol, many of which experience over 500,000 withdrawal episodes.
Alcohol withdrawal is characterized by two sets of symptoms – acute and short-term symptoms. They are sometimes mild and not a major sign of concern. But, in other people, they can be super dangerous. These symptoms include:
- Extreme agitation
- Quickened heart rate
- Dangerously high blood pressure
Can you cope with that alone?
With a proper detox, the body will be completely cleansed of all the addictive substances. Regardless if they cause short term or acute withdrawal symptoms. What you need is to get to the root of the problem.
Once you complete that cleansing process, it’ll be much easier to maintain sobriety. Basically, medical detox is a stepping stone to a complete recovery. It can have some amazing therapeutic properties that can help you achieve your long-term goals. In due time, you will be able to overcome those addictive behaviors and gain complete control over your life.
What Kind of Medications Are Used During Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol withdrawal mortality rate can go as high as 20% if you don’t get proper treatment. But, with adequate medications, patients can reduce the mortality rates from 1% to 5%, published Medscape.
Medications are the perfect tool for minimizing the symptoms and controlling all the complications. They are the “bread & butter” to a healthy recovery. Each person will receive proper medications designed to work perfectly with their specific medical condition.
The truth is, there are over 150 different meds used for alcohol withdrawal. They can be ingested depending on the severity of the symptoms, a person’s medical condition, and the current health state.
According to medical experts, these are the most commonly used drugs and treatment options currently available:
What About Benzodiazepines?
Benzodiazepines or “benzos” like most people call them, are a practical treatment for managing alcohol-induced withdrawals. They can be acquired via a prescription and are a popular option for curbing the cravings.
But, compared to the Naltrexone and Disulfiram, these drugs can be ingested during the detox process. The withdrawal issues often appear after the body has been cleansed from all the toxins. Because of how unpredictable they can be, patients will be advised to take adequate meds.
That’s where Benzodiazepines come into play.
Benzos are designed to decrease the discomfort and pain that might appear during detox. They are a practical solution for treating:
These drugs work by binding themselves to the exact same neurotransmitters in the human brain that control our anxiety levels. When the alcohol starts to interact with the nervous system, it interferes with GABA, which predisposes us to a series of psychological disorders.
Benzos directly influence GABA and boost its activity. That’s how they can calm the nerves and give users a sense of reassurance and calmness.
These are what we call “sedative effects.” To put it simply, the benzos get rid of the discomfort and calm down the mind. So, if there is any trigger that’s trying to interfere with the nerve receptors, the medication will tamper with their efforts.
Rehab facilities, including our inpatient rehab center for alcohol in Texas called Stonegate Center (located just west of Fort Worth, TX), uses multiple different types of benzos, such as lorazepam, diazepam, oxazepam, and chlordiazepoxide.
Did you know? Over 5 million people use diazepam for a range of different problems just in the U.S.
This is the most typical and well-known drug for treating alcoholism. Patients can take it in the form of a tablet or injection, whichever they prefer. The chemicals in the meds help the body decrease the possibility of reoccurring withdrawal issues. It creates a lasting effect since 1 dose can last for 3 days. It’s a practical treatment option for managing insomnia, muscle spasms, anxiety, and more.
Seen as the short-acting medication, this drug is meant to be taken every day and under supervision. It takes 1 hour for the drug to kick in. The chemical structure allows the med to relieve the anxiety and help the body focus on the detoxification process. With better focus, patients will be able to overcome their boundaries.
This is a daily tablet designed to restrict withdrawal difficulties. The effects of the pill can remain in the system for about three days. Due to its lasting effects, it’s a handy alternative for managing muscle spasms and anxiety. It promotes excellent comfort.
Many rehab centers use this drug to curb alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It’s a medium-grade drug that can last for 11 to 20h. While it isn’t as potent as the other options, it’s a handy alternative for older patients or people with a bad liver. All in all, it can suppress anxiety and reduce the possibility of seizures.
How Long Does It Take to Detox From Alcohol?
The entire cleansing process varies from person to person. It usually depends on their current medical state, the severity of the alcohol withdrawal, how long they’ve been dependent, and whether or not they have other disorders.
These are all major contributors that will impact the length of the detox process. Here is how a typical alcohol withdrawal timeline looks like for most people:
Overall, it can take from a few days to 2 weeks. After seven days, the symptoms will start to subside. To be on the safe side, it’s better to plan for two weeks. However, to get the results you are hoping for, you should be patient. Patience is the key, particularly if you want an alcohol-free state.
Tip: Insomnia is one of the toughest barriers to overcome for recovering alcoholics.
Based on recent medical reports, patients recovering from alcohol are twice more likely to relapse if they don’t get a good night’s sleep. And since the detox process can make them feel angry or agitated, they’ll find it pretty hard to get proper sleep. As a result, they are more vulnerable to:
- Fatigue during the day
- Frequent bad dreams/nightmares
That’s why it’s best to rely on supervision to help you overcome all your sleeping difficulties during the detox period.
The Perks of Medical Detox
Did You Know? Alcohol is the topmost abused drug on the globe. Based on a 2017 survey, around 69% of people have asked for treatment, while almost 53% of those who took the survey stated that medical treatment is the most practical option to stop the habit.
In many patients, alcoholism will take a progressive course. The bad habit will leave a devastating impact on the human body that can’t be flushed out without adequate treatment, medication, and monitoring.
These effects can be noticed on the physical and mental health of an affected individual. People might develop psychological disorders that will interfere with their daily lives. But, to restore that control, they will need professional help.
Medical detox will be your recovery journey – a crucial step to success. If you’re still not convinced, here’s a list of all the benefits you can get from a medical detox. This type of treatment will provide you with:
- An excellent starting point for a long-term alcohol management strategy.
- Safe, monitored, and controlled space to overcome your withdrawal difficulties.
- Expert support with mental and physical healthcare professionals.
- Reduced possibility for relapse.
- Decreased chance for serious complications that might send you to the hospital.
Of course, a detox is not just a “toxin flush-out” process. It constitutes of other different treatments that can prevent a relapse. To achieve that sobriety, experts have to evaluate all the sources of your problem, which have led to an addition. This is a type of strategy that requires constant effort.
Different Types of Medical Detox Therapy
Patients at an alcohol detox center will get access to various care levels, each designed to their own unique problem. For example, they can have access to:
- Inpatient programs: This is the type of approach usually saved for intensive cases. Patients are required to remain in a facility until they can overcome alcohol dependency. These programs can last for a long time, sometimes even months. The key to their success is the use of multiple therapy sessions and group meetings. The patient receives proper treatment and is monitored constantly.
- Outpatient programs: These programs are different from the inpatient ones. The patient will need to attend the programs at the rehab and then return home after the session has ended. They have the opportunity to get therapy sessions of choice, whether it is family, one-on-one, or group therapy. When the patient shows positive changes, the need for sessions will gradually decrease.
- Individual therapy: Some individuals don’t feel comfortable sharing their stories with other patients. That’s why they have the opportunity to choose individual therapy. This is the type of session where the patient only stays in contact with the therapist. They can have one or multiple sessions a week, depending on their current situation.
As you can see, you will need some extra help when dealing with severe withdrawal issues. Experts will give you the help you need. It’s as simple as that.
What Happens In the Human Body During Withdrawal?
When alcoholism has taken over your life, you will have a very hard time overcoming that habit. You will be prone to a series of symptoms, which won’t stave off until you give the body what it wants or treatment.
The reason for that is relatively simple. Many physical and chemical reactions are appearing in the system when a person experiences alcohol withdrawal. The brain becomes overflown with stimulant neurotransmitters. These are the reason behind the massive misbalance in the nervous system, experts explain.
When such chemicals start to flow through the system, they result in uncomfortable tremors and emotional difficulties, like insomnia, mood changes, and anxiety.
But that’s not all.
The body goes through a series of physical changes that last a long time. Since the alcohol has pain-soothing properties, people crave this dopamine-induced influence to curb the discomfort.
At this time, the digestive system will start healing itself over time. It takes a while, but it will eventually rejuvenate from the caustic and acidic damage caused by the alcohol. As a result, patients experience cramps, stomach pain, nausea, etc.
This is the stage where the liver and kidneys should be properly cleansed. Otherwise, people will experience debilitating headaches, constant sweating, and dangerous heart palpitations. Overall, the body and mind get to a very unpleasant place.
Though it sounds overbearing, it’s the first and primary step to a full recovery. Once you complete this stage, you will start noticing the effects you’ve always hoped for.
Why Is Detox So Hard?
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol for a prolonged period will have a serious and massively impactful effect on the nervous system. Especially the brain. These drinks provide our minds with “calming” properties, which trick our brain into releasing dopamine (the happy hormones) to balance out the nervous system.
However, these stimulating chemicals are not the good kind. They trigger happy hormones but deplete the brain’s pain-soothing and stress-relieving properties. To compensate for the improper hormone release, the nervous system is thrown off-balance.
It starts to crave the substance to feel “happy” again. But, without the alcohol, it can’t release any more happy hormones. Alcohol withdrawal is a natural response to the cravings. When someone is dependent on alcohol and abruptly stops the consumption, they will feel a sudden urge to get a drink.
Can I Detox Alone?
A lot of people might opt for at-home detoxes, but this is not the best approach. Experts advise that detoxing alone can expose alcohol abusers to potentially life-threatening experiences.
Although not everyone will experience severe withdrawal side effects, seizures can happen. In some individuals, nausea can get progressively worse. That’s why it’s essential to ask for medical help when you are trying to mitigate these symptoms.
The key to success is getting your body back on track. With the professional help we can offer at our inpatient rehab center for alcohol in Texas, you will always have that extra pair of hands to take control of any situation. This type of help will always work to your advantage.
Even though alcohol detox is a long and grueling process, it’s a vital component to a full recovery. With adequate medication, proper supervision, and control, you will be able to overcome every obstacle you will face.
Now that you know what to expect from the whole process, you will be ready to take on the challenge. With time, effort, and dedication, you will reap all the benefits. In the end, it’s you that matters. Don’t let a nasty habit take control over your life! Get the help you deserve!
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 & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.