What You Need To Know Regarding Alcohol Detox
Alcohol is one of the most difficult substances for your body to stop. And, unlike many drugs, alcohol is legal and available in most places. Additionally, alcohol withdrawal symptoms set in quickly, about eight hours after your last drink. Many times, symptoms are so severe alcoholics give up on recovery before it has begun.
If you struggle with alcohol dependency, know that you can make a full recovery. Understanding what to expect from the detox process helps you stay physically and mentally strong. In addition, it is crucial to go through detox with a support system. Trying to quit alone lessens your chances for lasting sobriety.
The First Steps Toward Recovery
Because of how physically debilitating detoxifying from alcohol makes people, the process is best done in a facility with medical care, either inpatient or outpatient. At a facility, you have immediate and ongoing access to professionals, as well as other alcoholics who know what you’re going through and can lend support.
Before entering a detox facility, you should have a full health exam. This lets your doctor and other clinicians know how to help you. If you have particular needs that will influence detoxification, clinicians can tailor the process to fit them. Your doctor will continue monitoring your health throughout detox and recovery.
An Overview Of Alcohol Detoxification
Alcohol withdrawal happens in three stages with varying symptoms. The first stage can begin as soon as eight hours into detoxing, but it could take longer; some alcoholics don’t experience symptoms for a couple days. During the first stage, expect to symptoms to range from headaches and sweating to shaking and mild-to-moderate anxiety. Alcohol cravings are often intense in this stage. Stay close to professionals and other supports to avoid temptation.
Withdrawal usually peaks within 24-48 hours, though peak symptoms can last five to seven days. The symptoms include increased anxiety, confusion, and disorientation. Some alcoholics lash out or become violent. During peak withdrawal, physical symptoms become more severe, too. Your body temperature will fluctuate more; many alcoholics develop fevers at this stage. You may sweat and shake profusely, vomit, or have diarrhea.
Why Medical Care Aids Recovery
Some alcoholics experience Delirium Tremens, or DTs. This is a potentially dangerous medical condition involving the above symptoms as well as hallucinations or seizures. Hallucinations are usually visual but sometimes are auditory. Tactile hallucinations, such as the sensation of bugs crawling on your skin, are less common but not unheard of. Seizures may occur in short flurries, or you may experience more intense seizures at longer intervals. The longer you’ve had an alcohol addiction, the more at risk you are for DTs. Other risk factors also apply, such as being over 30.
During the final withdrawal stage, your symptoms will decrease considerably, but you may not be well enough to fight the mental need for alcohol, which can be extremely powerful. The third withdrawal stage is the longest and possibly most difficult. For some alcoholics, this stage lasts a month or more. You may experience symptoms periodically long after withdrawal is “over.” In such cases, inpatient treatment helps tremendously.
Have Support During The Detox Process
Many alcoholics believe they can detox alone, especially if they use anti-alcohol drugs. Drugs such as Naltrexone and Antabuse do help, but they are no substitute for medically assisted treatment.
Alcoholics are prone to risky behavior during withdrawal, especially if they were heavy drinkers before. Accidents, including head injuries, are common. Most alcoholics struggle to eat and drink properly during recovery, but not eating and drinking properly worsens symptoms. Additionally, the symptoms of delirium tremens and severe withdrawal can cause coma or death if left untreated.
Many alcoholics have comorbid disorders – other dangerous disorders in addition to alcohol dependency. For example, some anorexics drink alcohol in place of eating, leading to a phenomenon called drunkorexia. Others have psychological disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and psychosis. If you know or suspect you have one of these, you need a dual diagnosis from a medical professional. Coexisting disorders often lie at the root of addiction, so treating them properly is crucial.
The Psychological Need For Professional Alcohol Detox
Recovering from alcoholism causes a range of emotions. You may feel sad, frightened, angry, or overwhelmed. Without healthy coping mechanisms, you will solve these feelings with alcohol. However, a facility like Pathways provides the psychological help you need. Counselors familiar with addiction will guide you through a number of therapies. Your treatment will include cognitive behavioral therapy and might include role-playing, equine therapy, recreational therapies, or music and art.
During therapy, you will gain the coping mechanisms and self-regulation to get control of your alcohol dependency. You’ll learn how to build healthy relationships, as well as how to repair the relationships alcoholism has damaged. Additionally, therapy will challenge you to change your thought processes. Negative thought processes like, “I’m worthless,” “I’m not good at anything,” or “I can’t change” drive people to unhealthy solutions. Once you learn to say, “I have value,” and “My life can change,” you will be less likely to return to addiction.
What Are Facilities Like?
Many alcoholics fear detox and recovery in a facility. They may picture Spartan environments where people will treat them without respect. However, most facilities around the country are the exact opposite. Many offer luxury treatment, because alcoholism recovery is such a personal and challenging process. Luxury facilities include private rooms, internet access, and more one-on-one attention than is typical in traditional facilities.
However, traditional facilities are often as warm and welcoming as luxury ones. In traditional setups, addicts receive access to a wide variety of therapies. Their meals are satisfying and nutritious, and they receive a balance of private time and time with others. For many facilities, including ours, the focus is on building rapport with clinicians and potential friends.