Did you know children as young as 12 start using and abusing alcohol? Unfortunately, alcohol addiction has become a major concern in the US, prompting state and federal governments to establish treatment facilities to improve access. Each facility designs customized treatment plans for its patients, but alcohol detox is nearly always included in the process.
It is the first stage of the treatment plan and standard practice across rehabilitation for substance abuse. As a patient seeking recovery (or their loved one), you need to know what alcohol detox is and how it works.
What is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox is the process of abruptly stopping the use of alcohol for someone with an addiction to alcohol. This treatment typically happens under expert supervision because there is no telling how severe the patient’s withdrawal symptoms will be.
Severe withdrawal symptoms can threaten the person’s health and well-being, which is why it is always best for specialists to supervise. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe medicines to ease the symptoms and make the detox more bearable.
Why Is Alcohol Detox Necessary for Addiction Treatment?
Alcohol detox, or any drug detox, is necessary for addiction treatment for several reasons. The most critical reasons for its significance are mentioned below:
1. Helps the Body Flush Out Alcohol from Your System
The core purpose of alcohol detox is to flush the substance out of your system. Routine consumption of alcohol results in the brain and body getting accustomed to its presence and chemical effects. Often, alcohol abuse also causes your brain chemistry to change, resulting in the suppression or creation of new neural pathways.
Although it takes time to revert these changes, flushing the substance out helps because it forces the body to get accustomed to the absence.
2. Facilitates Brain Recovery
As mentioned above, long-term alcohol abuse can change your brain’s neural pathways. In several cases, the result may change personality, behaviors, and even physical health. Alcohol detox forces the patient to cut the substance cold turkey, removing its supply to the brain.
It takes alcohol 12-24 hours to leave the bloodstream, so the effects will kick in once that time has elapsed. The brain will react to the absence but slowly adapt to it the longer it continues. This adaptation will also start the recovery process, allowing it to heal some, if not all, the changes.
3. Eases the Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol detox causes withdrawal symptoms, but there is room to ease them when you undergo it at alcohol rehab. Most experienced specialists carefully monitor their patients for the first few days after detox starts.
In severe cases, they prescribe medicines to ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent lasting harm to your mind and body.
4. Kickstarts your Recovery
Lastly, alcohol detox is the first step in starting the recovery and rehabilitation process. Removing alcohol will help set the pace for the process and help you achieve your goal.
What to Expect During the Process
Knowing what you’ll potentially experience during alcohol detox will help you prepare yourself for the treatment. Mental preparation may not make you immune to the effect, but it can mellow things to a certain extent.
Following are some of the common withdrawal symptoms patients face during detox:
1. Nausea and Vomiting
Alcohol consumption affects the liver and other parts of the digestive system. Although cutting it out is good for your health, the sudden action shocks the body and may cause your digestion to suffer. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common withdrawal symptoms for recovering addicts during the detox phase.
It will be uncomfortable, but the symptoms ease with time. Perseverance will be key and help you reach the other side of the process.
Alcohol rewires the brain, and some of the worst changes are to the frontal lobe. Hence, the absence of the substance triggers dependency and affects your motion coordination. As a result, you may experience mild to severe disorientation, preventing you from moving around too much.
The best solution is to take as much rest as required until the symptoms ease, and you gain more control over your perception and movement.
3. High Blood Pressure
Excessive alcohol intake damages several body parts, including the cardiovascular system. It restricts oxygen concentration in your blood, causes the blood vessels to contract, and disrupts the supply to organs.
During the alcohol detox phase, your body will suddenly have more oxygen entering the bloodstream, and it will take time for the vessels to return to their normal size. Hence, you may experience high blood pressure levels from time to time until you get accustomed to the absence.
Severely high blood pressure can be hazardous, so your doctor may put you on medication to prevent severe harm.
Hallucinations are one of the more severe withdrawal symptoms of cutting alcohol from your system, but they aren’t always dangerous. They have the potential to become harmful, which is why you will need consistent monitoring and, maybe, medication to keep things mild.
5. High Fever
Several patients experience high fever during alcohol detox. It is the body’s way of registering the lack of substance and should ease with time. Medication isn’t always necessary to make the fever go away, but the decision depends on the specialist and your medical reports.
Delirium is the most dangerous withdrawal symptom and is a primary reason why specialists discourage undergoing detox without supervision. It impairs the patient’s sense of reality and can induce feelings of self-harm and extreme anxiety.
It seriously threatens the patient’s well-being and requires immediate medication and monitoring to ease it while the body heals.
We hope this blog helped increase your knowledge and understanding of alcohol detox. This information will help you prepare for the changes and adjust to the recovery process. We have added several more blogs about alcohol addiction treatment, so please check them out for more information.