What Is Alcohol Detox?
Detoxification is the process of thoroughly flushing toxic substances from your body. Usually, detox is the first stage in an addiction treatment program. Starting therapeutic activities without going through detox can often be a problem. It can be hard to process so many changes at once clearly, rendering counseling ineffective.
Some withdrawal symptoms might affect the patient’s mindset, thinking, and thought processing. This could make most sessions seem like a blur to them, and they might not take in everything they can. Also, the discomfort of the side effects of detox can disrupt focus, too. The symptoms might be too much for someone to be able to sit through a session of anything. Altogether, there are many reasons why professionals tell patients to detox before starting treatment.
As it is with becoming addicted, detoxing is also a process. It might take from a few days to several weeks for symptoms to cease altogether. The worse stages usually last a little over a week. Each person has a different metabolism, so it might be hard to predict how long it will take. The dosage and frequency with which they were consuming alcohol will also come into play in this case.
The Timeline of Alcohol Detox
The symptoms of detox come in waves and in different intensities. While each person will have their own set of symptoms, the timeline of detoxing usually goes like this:
First 12 hours – Symptoms begin mildly, but they quickly worsen as time goes on. Some people might experience nausea, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and shaking within the first 6 hours. There have even been reported cases of seizures for severe addiction, but they can be less likely.
Twenty-four hours – Now, the person might experience the intense effects of withdrawal. Shaking might evolve into hand tremors. There is a higher risk of seizures as time goes on. Disorientation is more than expected at this point, too. A small percentage of people could start experiencing symptoms of hallucinations as well.
Day two – Closer to the 48-hour mark, hallucinations become more common. In more severe cases, they can be accompanied by panic attacks, as well. However, for those with moderate to mild cases of addiction, this is where things might start getting better. Nonetheless, they will still experience milder symptoms for some time.
Day three – This is usually the most critical point so far. Delirium tremens (also called alcohol withdrawal delirium) might occur, causing high heart rate and body temperature as well as seizures. Withdrawal symptoms might start to come and go, which makes this a less stable part of the process.
From day three to the one week mark – The instability will continue for some time. More moderate symptoms might continue. There is still a risk of delirium tremens until the first week is completed, too.
After the first week – In most cases, symptoms become more stabilized, and only minor symptoms might continue. While it is hard to predict when they’ll stop, they are much more manageable at this stage.
Withdrawal and detoxing can be incredibly hard and risky. Some people might choose to do it cold turkey – at once and by themselves. But by looking at the possible symptoms in just the first week, it’s clear that doing it alone might be hard. It’s easy just to give in and start drinking again after going through only the first stages. Doing so might actually put the body into shock, too, and that can be lethal.
Moderate to mild cases of addiction can be more easily handled, yes. Having the support of loved ones might make the process easier. While there is no “right way” to quit alcohol, there is a safe way. And that is exactly what alcohol detox centers provide: a more reliable, more comfortable detoxing process.
Alcohol detox centers help those struggling with substance abuse to go through the process of withdrawal in a supervised environment. A patient will have a team prepared to handle all the complications that can come from detoxing. Only once a patient has undergone detox can they start behavioral therapy to find the underlying causes of their disease.
How Alcohol Detox Center Programs Can Help
During alcohol detox, the body processes all toxins out of the body, causing many chemical and neurological changes. Patients who have used drugs or alcohol for a long time start developing dependence and higher tolerance, too. By the time they decide to quit, their body is used to alcohol, even being unbalanced without it.
The body builds up various compensations and tolerances for the effects of drugs and alcohol. When a person stops using, it throws everything into disarray. This results in the withdrawal symptoms previously mentioned. The main reason why this happens is that prolonged alcohol consumption directly affects the nervous system.
Alcohol is a depressant for the nervous system. This means that it brings on feelings of relaxation and euphoria, depending on the dose. The presence of alcohol in the system makes the brain produce neurotransmitters that excite or stimulate the nervous system. It also affects the production of hormones, as well.
Once alcohol is out of the equation, everything is left out of balance. Too many neurotransmitters might cause anxiety or sluggishness. Lowered production of chemicals like dopamine (related to pleasure) might make a person feel more miserable. Excessive alcohol consumption can make the body more sensitive to changes in neurotransmitters and hormones. Basically, the symptoms of alcoholism affect each other.
And that is where alcohol detox centers come in. While some symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medicine, many cannot. Self-medicating is also a problem if you don’t know the possible side effects of each drug. A drug might treat one symptom, but make the other way worse. During withdrawal, the body is in a delicate situation, and any change can bring on many consequences.
In fact, the possible outcomes of these imbalances can only be predicted by professionals at alcohol detox centers. All alcohol detox centers will have a team that will know what to give a patient in order to treat their symptoms. This will help make them easier to endure and less intense while also not causing any serious side effects.
Why Is Medically-Assisted Alcohol Detox Important To Recovery?
Fear of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms often keeps those struggling with addiction from seeking help. But the detox is an inevitable process for sobriety; there is no way around it. Not only do patients have a fear of withdrawal, but they also fear losing substance abuse as a crutch in many ways. For these reasons, medically-assisted substance detox is crucial and a big advantage.
Being treated at alcohol detox centers accomplishes two things on the road to recovery. First, it handles all the effects of withdrawal symptoms that can be discouraging in the recovery process. Second, and maybe most importantly, it frees patients of the harmful substance and its symptoms, which can be quite disruptive, so they can focus on the behavioral part of addiction treatment.
Once the initial stage is done, a patient will have to start on a recovery program. The next steps would depend on a patient’s needs after they leave the alcohol detox center. An assessment of the patient will have to be made in order to find out what service setting would be best.
People who suffer from a psychiatric disorder might be safer if they detox at alcohol detox centers. These cases can be a bit more complicated. Co-occurring disorders feed off of each other and need to be addressed separately, according to a patient’s needs. The symptoms of a mental disorder need to be taken into consideration during detox. Patients suffering from a dual diagnosis should consider going to alcohol detox centers for their own safety.
Alcohol Detox Services At 1st Step Behavioral Health
We at First Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, offer detox services that utilize a personalized treatment plan for all patients, as well as medications to help withdrawal symptoms. Upon admission to the center, staff will perform a full assessment that will allow them to design a treatment plan suited for a patient’s needs.
The entry assessment at First Step Behavioral Health includes:
- Urine drug analysis
- Physical assessment
- Psychiatric evaluation
- Clinical interview
We can provide a caring environment with long-term care programs. Our detox program usually ranges from 7 to 14 days. Therapy-wise, rather than using every experimental treatment available, we prefer to focus more strongly on talk therapy.
All patients are assigned a primary care therapist to keep treatment plans personalized and dynamic throughout the program. Having one professional focus on a patient can improve continuity and makes their case easier to track. This way, they can get an in-depth analysis, and their assigned professional get to know them more and more.
Besides detox and recovery programs, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment to uncover the serious co-occurring issues that may contribute to patients’ addiction. Our team can help those suffering from disorders like PTSD, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and others.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the first step is to reach out to an alcohol detox center. Don’t allow addiction to control your life any longer. Visit our website and give First Step Behavioral Health a call today at (866) 971-5531. Let us help you start on the road to recovery safely and as comfortably as possible.