The Alcohol Detox Process
An addiction to alcohol can be one of the most daunting things to overcome in life. However, the first step in breaking out of any addiction cycle is to first admit that there is a problem. Lying to yourself won’t do you any good and it will only prolong the issue, resulting in symptoms that can be challenging to live with. One of the best ways to deal with an addiction is to visit a treatment centre that is equipped with understanding staff and facilities that can help you conquer your alcohol addiction by putting you on a the right alcohol detox program.
What is Alcohol Detox?
The word detox is often mislabelled as a full treatment to help with alcohol addiction. Detox is actually a cleansing step that helps you get rid of your dependency on alcohol. This shouldn’t be confused with completely getting rid of the addiction. If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly in an attempt to quit your alcohol addiction, the symptoms of alcohol dependence will start to sink in around an hour after your last drink.
During detox, the alcohol is completely flushed from your system, meaning that it will likely trigger withdrawal symptoms that can last a fairly long time if they aren’t dealt with completely.
Do I Need an Alcohol Detox?
One of the easiest ways to tell if you need an alcohol detox is to see how long you can last without drinking. If you don’t “feel right” without drinking a bit of alcohol then you may have developed a dependency on it. People often think that breaking a drinking addiction is all about willpower, but the reality is that there are chemical changes in your body that have adapted to the constant intake of alcohol.
As a result, alcohol dependency is a real issue that isn’t just about willpower. Your body will crave alcohol if you’ve gotten used to it. In fact, going cold turkey and suffering from withdrawal symptoms can actually be incredibly dangerous and put your life at risk.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal is the term used to describe the symptoms experienced when a heavy drinker suddenly stops or reduces their intake of alcohol. It’s caused by the alcohol in your system changing your central nervous system to account for the extra alcohol intake. Your body works harder in order to keep your body functioning normally when it detects a heavy amount of alcohol. If your body gets used to this sensation, then your brain will continue to operate as if there’s alcohol in your system even when you don’t drink as much.
This eventually creates a dependence on alcohol. If your body doesn’t receive any alcohol, then you can experience withdrawal symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
Symptoms can be mild or severe depending on long you were exposed to heavy alcohol intake. In most cases, the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are as follows:
- Feeling of anxiety
- Hand tremors
- Frequent nightmares
- High blood pressure
These are considered mild symptoms that will likely appear a few hours after your last drink. If you only experience these symptoms then your body is likely in a state where quick recovery is possible. However, there are also severe symptoms that you might experience if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time. This includes:
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Delirium tremens (DT)
If you experience any of these symptoms after stopping or reducing your alcohol consumption, it’s important to contact help as soon as possible.
What is Delirium Tremens?
Often referred to as DT, delirium tremens is a severe form of confusion that is often caused by alcohol withdrawal. It’s a rare condition that only affects around 5% of people that suffer from the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and often starts around two to three days after your last drink. This is one of the most dangerous conditions to experience once you go cold turkey, hence the importance of seeking advice before you decide to try and quit drinking. Here are some of the common symptoms of DT:
- Intense body tremors
- Vivid hallucinations
- Rapid mood changes
- A feeling of impending doom
- Sudden severe confusion
- Deep sleeps that last over 18 hours
If you experience these symptoms after cutting your alcohol consumption for two to three days, seek medical attention immediately
What Does Alcohol Detox Involve?
Detox programs are fairly straightforward. It often involves an intake exam so that your doctor or detox team can examine the current state of your body to see what kind of support is required. This may include taking a blood sample and discussions about your drinking so that the team can get a better understanding of your situation.
Next, you’ll often receive support for your alcohol detox. This includes specialised medicine to help cope with the withdrawal symptoms and other health conditions that may be detected by the intake exam. Your detox team will primarily focus on trying to handle the mental and physical issues associated with detox withdrawal, and you may have to get your blood pressure and heart rate checked on a regular basis to anticipate withdrawal symptoms and deal with them appropriately.
Finally, detox programs will ultimately help you break your addiction by examining the reasons why you drink, how to cope with your issues and also how to avoid relapse in the future. There are other more detailed aspects of an alcohol detox but they will depend on the type of treatment that you pick, so if you need more information, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact us for more advice.
Will Alcohol Detox Help Me Break My Addiction?
Alcohol detox will be the first step to helping you break your addiction. Alcohol addictions often start due to complicated problems in one’s life which pushes them to drink alcohol as a mental refuge. Identifying and admitting these problems is often the second step after detoxing your body so that you can face the problems in your life that have caused you to fall into addiction in the first place.
Unfortunately, you may find that relapsing into your alcohol addiction is easy even after a successful detox. This is why it’s important to stay in touch with people that are ready and willing to encourage you to continue your sobriety. Feel free to give us a call if you’d like some advice on how you can stay off alcohol after a successful detox program.
What Alcohol Detox Treatments Are Available?
There are often two types of detox treatments; outpatient and inpatient.
The first is outpatient treatment. This usually involves day treatments mixed with medication to provide relief for your withdrawal symptoms. Outpatients detox programs are recommended for those with light to mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is best if you only have a slight addiction and are healthy both mentally and physically and your home environment is safe enough to help you break your addiction.
Inpatients, on the other hand, usually involve staying at a hospital, clinic or rehab centre. You’ll live at the location for several weeks or months and will receive help at all times to help you through your addiction. This is preferred if home factors are affecting your alcohol addiction or if your withdrawal symptoms are proving to be difficult to manage or handle at home. Inpatient treatments are often more effective because you will be monitored for most of the day and you will have access to more potent medication that won’t be available if you try to self-detox.
How Long Will It Take to Perform an Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox starts within hours of your last drink. However, without professional assistance, it can be easy to relapse. The duration of a full program will depend on how severe your withdrawal symptoms are. Sometimes it takes under a week for your body to be clear of alcohol but it can also take several weeks or even months before your withdrawal symptoms start to disappear. Factors that could affect your alcohol detox timeline include:
- The level of your alcohol consumption
- How long you have been drinking
- How often you drink
- Other substances taken with the alcohol
- Your weight and age
- Mental health concerns such as depression
It’s important to remember that alcohol detox is just the first step to breaking your alcohol addiction and it can take several weeks and months or multiple tries in order to fully rid yourself of alcohol addiction. It can be a long process, but there is always support available.
Where Can I Go for More Help?
There’s plenty of help available to help you beat your alcohol addiction. If you feel that you or a loved one needs treatment for alcohol addiction, then contact us on 0203 955 7700 for advice on how you can combat it. Calls are completely free and you’ll be put through to a friendly non-judgemental representative that you can speak to anonymously for help regarding your alcohol addiction situation.