Raffa Bari - Author | Last Updated: 18th March 2022
What Is An Alcohol Detox
Detoxing from alcohol is a necessary step for people who are either hoping to reduce their alcohol intake or to overcome an addiction. Alcohol detox is one of the most recommended and effective treatments, as it physically eliminates alcohol and its influences from the picture.
The alcohol detoxification process can be tough and risky. Withdrawal symptoms are expected as a direct response to absenteeism and can last a number of days to weeks. Without any form of medical intervention, symptoms can be hazardous and unbearable to encounter.
Yet by opting for a medically assisted alcohol detox, the process can be managed and worked through with comfort and safety in mind. Progress will also be measured throughout to make sure that alcohol can be removed with sustainability in mind, without causing lasting damage or inducing relapse.
Here’s a full guide on how you’ll feel, expected withdrawal symptoms, the type of help that’s on offer and the process itself as we cover ‘what is an alcohol detox?’. Further addiction treatment will be required here at Cassiobury Court. Yet detoxing will help to effectively kickstart the recovery process.
A guide to alcohol detox
Whilst an alcohol detox is one of the most prominent treatments for alcoholism, many people are still unaware or unsure of how the process unfolds. Detoxing from alcohol is in fact an unpredictable process. It can be a manageable and mild change for some, whilst for others, it can be engulfing and chronic in its effects.
There are many different factors that can impact the detoxification process. Yet with medical assistance in place and a structured detox to follow, control, management and some form of awareness will be present, to plan for alcohol withdrawal.
A commonality for all addicts is that the detox process is a must. Whether a client is looking to reduce alcohol exposure, to slowly fight the effects of alcoholism, or is looking to go cold turkey, detoxing is an essential step of the overarching recovery journey.
Here’s what to expect from the process as we answer, ‘what is an alcohol detox?’.
Alcohol detoxification process
A medically assisted detox delivers a safe withdrawal process which helps to eliminate alcohol as an influence. Alcohol consumption will be stopped, and in some cases may be replaced by replacement drugs and therapies.
Like other addiction treatments, responses will differ for each client. Some may respond positively, possible working through withdrawal symptoms with ease. Others may display the signs of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and may require significant medical intervention.
Whilst there are disparities, there is a common timeline to the alcohol detox process.
6-12 hours post-alcohol consumption
At the beginning of the detox process, alcohol will still have a strong influence over the body. Mild withdrawal symptoms can start for some individuals, mostly including headaches, nausea, and irritability.
24 hours post-alcohol consumption
For some alcoholics, 24 hours will be the longest amount of time without drinking alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can expectedly aggravate up to this point, as both the body and brain respond to a lack of alcohol exposure. Mental and physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin, including seizures, anxiety, and acute disorientation.
48 hours post-alcohol consumption
It is normal for withdrawal symptoms to peak at this point of the alcohol detox process. For many clients, this will be the point where replacement drugs and therapies are used, to increase comfort and reduce pain. Clients are at risk of experiencing stronger and more severe symptoms due to the absenteeism of alcohol, including mental health issues, hallucinations, and vomiting.
Up to 7 days post-alcohol consumption
Withdrawal symptoms are commonly suppressed 7 days into the detox process. However, some individuals, especially those who have abused large quantities of alcohol over a longer period of time will be at risk of long-lasting and sometimes dangerous symptoms. Delirium tremens, chronic seizures, high blood pressure, high heart rate and complete disorientation are the risks of abruptly stopping alcohol exposure.
Through a medically assisted alcohol detox, treatments are in place to manage the strength of symptoms and guide clients through the withdrawal phase.
Signs of sobriety can be seen around 7-10 days post-alcohol consumption. Throughout the process, treatments, such as vitamin transfusions and supportive medications will be used to boost physical and mental health.
How will I feel going through ‘detox’?
A mixture of feelings can be expected throughout the alcohol detox process. It is a monumental moment, marking the beginning of the addiction recovery process. However, it can also be a daunting process to begin, as grave changes are impending.
The detox process can be both pressing on the body and brain. There are some common emotions and withdrawal symptoms that display throughout the initial days of absenteeism. They include:
- Low confidence and self-esteem
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Headaches and migraines
- Alcohol cravings
- Rapid heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Delirium tremens
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is caused by abrupt absenteeism. It won’t be experienced by every individual who withdraws from alcohol. Yet it can be experienced by those who have relied on alcohol for a long period of time, where the body and brain have accommodated such effects.
The most common symptom of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is delirium tremens. Delirium tremens is a severe reaction to alcohol withdrawal, where the body and brain experience chronic shock. Visual and auditory impairments, extreme disorientation, hallucinations, uncontrollable seizures, high blood pressure and panic attacks are some of the most extreme symptoms.
The detox process is an invasive treatment, which is detaching the body and brain from a habit-like substance. With that, some people will suffer and experience chronic symptoms. Through alcohol rehab, symptoms can however be treated and managed. The process can be comfortable and pain-free, followed by the reward of sobriety.
What helps alcohol withdrawal?
Through a medically assisted alcohol detox, support and treatment are in place to ease the withdrawal process. Prescription medications are mostly used to either support initial withdrawal or to support long-term sobriety.
Numerous replacement drugs are available and are prescribed on a per-client basis depending on their needs, responses, and existing health. For example, someone who’s already addicted to drugs or lives with additional health problems may not be prescribed such substances, due to added risks.
Naltrexone, Benzodiazepines, Disulfiram and Acamprosate are the most commonly prescribed alcohol withdrawal medications. They are safe to consume whilst prescribed, usually for short bouts of time. They help to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce the attractiveness of alcohol consumption, and decrease the risks of relapse.
After alcohol detox
Post-detox, ongoing addiction treatment will be an imperative commitment. Addiction therapy is encouraged for people with a dependence on alcohol, to heal the mind and restore behavioural problems.
Through residential rehab, clients can progress from the withdrawal phase, and transition into the rehabilitation phase of addiction recovery. Various forms of therapy, management tools, relapse prevention planning sessions and holistic therapies will be recommended.
The focus will shift psychological detachment, improving mental health and preparing for long-term sobriety. Managing addiction is also a follow-on goal, which must be focused on post-detox. The addiction recovery process is for the future and will work to normalise sober living as a lifestyle.
An alcohol detox, addiction treatment and aftercare services can all be experienced here at Cassiobury Court. Through our residential rehab clinic, a safe and progressive transition can be made throughout each, to remain on track and well.
For more information on ‘what is an alcohol detox?’, or to start the admissions process into rehab, reach out.