Detoxing from Alcohol in the Safest, Most Comfortable Way
Detoxing from alcohol can be uncomfortable and difficult for the person experiencing it. To protect the success and safety of the person, alcohol detox is best done under the supervision of trained medical professionals.
The severity of symptoms during alcohol withdrawal is different for everyone and depends on how long the person has been consuming alcohol and their tolerance to it. Symptoms range from:
- Tremors or delirium
- Feeling of being disoriented
- Nausea, vomiting
- Severe headaches
The Importance of Medical Detox for Alcohol
Because it is unknown how severe your symptoms may be, being monitored by doctors and nurses allows them to swiftly intervene should you need medical care. Knowing that you are in good hands and have access to medications that can provide additional comfort makes it more likely you will see your detox all the way through. Your treatment team will monitor your vital signs for the duration of your detox and provide a sense of comfort during an otherwise unpleasant experience.
Timeline for Detoxing from Alcohol
As the severity of symptoms differs for each individual, so does the onset of symptoms. Some may experience symptoms within hours of their last drink and can last from a few days to several weeks. Due to the individualized nature of each detox, there is no concrete timeline, but here is a general guideline of what you can expect:
- Within the first 12 hours, symptoms are typically mild but can quickly progress to more severe. Common symptoms experienced in the early hours are headache, nausea or vomiting, irritability, and shaking.
- During the first two days, your symptoms can become worse and you may feel more disoriented, panicked, and irritable. By the end of the first day, hand tremors or seizures could occur. As your second day comes to a close and your body continues to cleanse itself of alcohol, hallucinations may occur.
- Days 3-7 is when potentially life-threatening symptoms can occur. Your treatment team will closely monitor for delirium tremors during this time. Otherwise your withdrawal symptoms will generally come and subside on their own.
- One week after you begin detox, your symptoms will become less intense and slowly go away. Most persistent symptoms can be treated with the medications. In some cases, Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can occur in which symptoms of detox are experienced for months and potentially years. Signs of PAWS include insomnia, decreased energy, and changes in reflexes.
What Medications Can be Used in Alcohol Detox?
Medications are used during detox to decrease the risk of adverse events and minimize any discomfort the patient may experience. Medications may include:
- Disulfiram—this is commonly used to help deter drinking by producing unpleasant side effects if alcohol is consumed. Side effects can be severe and may include low blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Disulfiram is intended to help reduce cravings and improve how the brain functions.
- Acamprosate (Campral)—Alcoholism changes the chemical makeup of the brain and affects how it operates. This medication curbs cravings without painful side effects experienced from Disulfiram. Acamprosate also works to help the brain restore normal functioning. In some cases, it has shown to decrease restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia sometimes associated with withdrawal.
- Naltrexone—Another potential relief from cravings. It can inhibit the feeling you get when alcohol is consumed. This drug should not be taken within 10 days of consuming alcohol as it can cause withdrawal symptoms.
What happens After Alcohol Detox?
After completing alcohol detox, it is recommended that you receive specialized addiction treatment to equip you with tools you need to be successful in recovery. The Source Treatment Center partners with high-quality detox facilities to monitor your safety during your detox. These facilities have met The Source’s strict criteria for quality care and have proven they share the same values, such as treating everyone as family, providing honest and affordable care, and treating each patient holistically. The Source will provide transportation from the detox center to our facility when you are ready, so you have one less thing to worry about. The Source’s comprehensive treatment plans are a crucial supplement to your detox and will ensure lifelong success in recovery. To learn more about how The Source can assist you in detox give us a call at (800) 204-0418 or online at www.thesourcetreatmentcenter.com.