A diagnosis of alcoholism is often followed by a trip to an alcohol detox centre. But what actually goes on during this process?
This guide walks you through the three phases involved with detoxification from alcohol. It covers withdrawal symptoms, how they last, the drugs used to treat them, the medication that is used to avoid cravings and resources for self-care once you’ve arrived at the detox center. There is also some information about what happens after leaving an alcohol detox center.
Alcoholism’s Effects on Mind & Body
Alcohol’s pleasure is a popular pastime in society all over the globe over the centuries. A lot of people enjoy it to relieve anxiety and stress caused by the pressures of daily life.
There is no cure for alcoholism. However, it’s important to detox from it in order to progress towards sobriety. The goal of a patient during alcohol detox is not only to cleanse his or her system of all traces of alcohol, but also learn how to maintain abstinence for the foreseeable future.
The process of detoxification from alcohol is not easy.
Many people who are addicted to alcohol struggle to stop drinking, even when they are aware of the consequences.
The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol could be serious and include seizures or delirium (DTs) that is a potentially life-threatening condition that usually requires hospitalization. There are some who experience psychosis or hallucinations during withdrawal. It can be very dangerous if it is not treated by a trained professional.
Individuals who are at high risk of developing DTs should not try to detox by themselves. They should also stay clear of shifting between levels of treatment unless they have been advised by a physician. Detoxification should only occur within a controlled and safe setting such as an alcohol detox center, where patients can receive constant supervision and support.
The process of detoxing from alcohol typically takes place with three distinct phases: Withdrawal, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) and prolonged withdrawal.
The first two phases can last for approximately two weeks. The third one can last for several months or even years following an alcohol user stops drinking. PAWS symptoms include fatigue and mood swings insomnia, sleep disorders, fatigue, problems with concentration as well as irritation and mood swings. Many former alcohol addicts have to alter their lifestyles to deal with these symptoms as they seek out support from groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or psychotherapy.
Understanding Alcohol Detox Phases: A Timeline
Within hours after someone quits drinking, they could begin experiencing post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) which is a condition which can last for a few weeks or even months following stopping drinking.
The initial phase of detoxification for alcohol can last between 2 to 3 days and is characterized by severe psychological withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, depression. The withdrawal symptoms generally subside after 48 hours (in certain instances they can last by up to 5 days). This is when the physical component of detox starts. The people undergoing alcohol detox may be prone to nausea and tremors. These symptoms usually last only one or two hours.
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The goal of an alcohol detox patient is not only to eliminate their body of alcohol, but also learn how they can refrain from drinking in the near future. To ensure safety detox facilities provide 24 hour supervision and monitoring for the patients.
Although withdrawal symptoms can be very extreme for certain patients, they aren’t usually harmful if they are treated properly.
Former heavy drinkers will usually be in the “rehab” stage, or post-acute withdrawal, after completing the alcohol detox. The duration can range from weeks to months, based on the speed at which they adjust to life without alcohol. Some may have symptoms of previous withdrawals, like insomnia and irritability. In addition, they will likely experience Alcohol cravings.
Treatment programs usually include group therapy with other recovering addicts, as well as individual counseling sessions with a therapist specially trained in addiction medicine. In time, these programs have been proven to enhance recovery rates.
Individuals who are dependent on alcohol are often afflicted with withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly cease drinking following a time of intense intoxication, prescription medications, or other drugs. It is vital for those who are trying to quit drinking to recognize the signs, symptoms , and consequences of withdrawal so that they can minimize the dangers associated with discontinuing drinking abruptly. However, there could be people who require medical assistance during alcohol detox, especially if their addiction has gone on for many years.