Detoxing is the first phase for people planning to quit alcohol abuse successfully. It flushes out toxins from the liver to prepare patients for the next stage of alcohol addiction treatment — behavioral therapy.

Although essential, detox can be the most disastrous stage, especially when done unprofessionally. Patients can suffer devastating symptoms, including seizures, tremors, cardiac failure, and even death.

New Method Wellness, California’s leading rehabilitation center, has shed light on how to safely detox from alcohol without compromising wellness. 

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is a process that flushes alcohol and its toxins from the body’s system. Since detoxing triggers distressing symptoms, specialists advise patients to undergo the process in a licensed rehabilitation facility.

Nevertheless, for patients with minor addiction, detox can be done as an outpatient procedure. In such a case, clinicians prescribe medications like Benzodiazepines to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Detox Take?

The duration of alcohol detox depends on a patient’s addiction, withdrawal symptoms severity, age, and gender. Additionally, the course of detox depends on one’s body weight and level of physical/mental wellness.

Typically, this first step towards quitting alcohol takes seven to ten days. For patients with severe addiction, the system might take several weeks or months to flush out all alcohol toxins.

The Symptoms of  Alcohol Withdrawal

There are four phases of withdrawal, and each has distinct symptoms. In stage one, symptoms occur between 6-24 hours; in stage two, the symptoms arise 24 – 48 hours after drinking.

In stage three, the symptoms occur between 48 – 72 hours, while in stage four, the symptoms appear 72 hours after drinking.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms of in Stage One

During the first 24 hours of withdrawal, patients experience mild symptoms like headache, insomnia, shaky hands, sweating, and irritability. These symptoms do not require medical management since they are not typically fatal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms in Stage Two

During stage two, symptoms intensify because the body has depleted all the alcohol taken. At this stage, many patients need close supervision and medical attention lest they experience a relapse. The common symptoms include:

• Hallucinations
• Paranoia
• Elevated body temperature
• Severe tremors
• Disorientation
• Insomnia
• Anxiety
• Stomach upset

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms in Stage Three

During stage three, the symptoms reduce as the body gets accustomed to the new changes. Though some patients might experience Delirium Tremens, a complication characterized by severe symptoms like:

• Racing heart
• Intense hallucinations
• Increased blood pressure
• Delusions
• Confusion

Withdrawal Symptoms in Stage Four

In the final stage, some withdrawal symptoms taper off as the body continues adapting to a state of sobriety. Addiction treatment specialists might start cutting down medication at this stage in preparation for behavioral therapy.

Nonetheless, some patients, especially those with severe addiction, might experience a variety of effects during stage four withdrawal. 

These symptoms include moderate to severe effects:

• Hallucination
• Insomnia
• Tiredness
• Panic attacks
• Anxiety
• Illusions 
• Increased heart rate

Complications That Occur During Alcohol Detoxification

Supervised detox from alcohol is generally safe. But, on some occasions, patients might experience complications that need quick medication. If left untreated, the complications may compromise one’s quality of life. Some complications associated with alcohol detox are:

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens is a severe complication affecting around 5% of patients seeking addiction treatment. The difficulty is severe symptoms like whole body tremors, vomiting, and hallucinations.

Furthermore, the condition could lead to confusion, hypertension, panic attacks, delirium, and lack of sleep. It tends to affect more heavy drinkers with a history of alcohol withdrawal than light alcohol users.

If left unmanaged, Delirium Tremens can advance to cardiovascular failure, alcoholic liver disease, neuropathy, and brain damage. Delirium Tremens can also lead to seizures and increased startle reflexes.

To treat DT, clinicians use antipsychotic drugs to manage hallucinogens, anticonvulsants to treat seizures, and sedatives to alleviate anxiety. The treatment procedures depend on how the complication presents.

Alcohol Hallucinosis

Mainly, this alcohol withdrawal complication affects patients with a history of binge drinking. The patients with alcohol hallucinosis experience mood disturbances and acoustic verbal hallucinations. 

Unmanaged alcohol hallucinosis can advance to a chronic level characterized by disorganized thinking, impaired motor behavior, and inability to experience pleasure.

Addiction treatment specialists use benzodiazepines or neuroleptics to manage the complication’s symptoms. The symptoms can also disappear as a patient’s body adapts to the new life of sobriety.

Withdrawal Seizures

Medically known as rum fits, seizures associated with withdrawal affect two to five percent of patients seeking to quit drinking. Most patients get seizures 6 – 72 hours after having their last alcoholic drink.

Before a seizure attack, patients might experience confusion, tremors, drowsiness, sweating, disorientation, and racing heartbeats. The rum fits can advance to Delirium Tremens if not managed professionally. Addiction treatment specialists treat seizures with benzodiazepine anticonvulsants.

Benefits of Professionally Monitored Alcohol Detox

Increased Success Rate

Patients doing alcohol detox alone are likely to get overwhelmed by withdrawal symptoms. A majority relapse is a quick way to manage unpleasant symptoms like restlessness, anxiety, confusion, and insomnia.

In such a scenario, clinicians use medical interventions like antidepressants to control symptoms, helping patients successfully complete the alcohol detox phase.

Enhanced Safety

Alcohol detoxification comes with several risks, most of which are life-threatening. For instance, the process can lead to seizures, depression, heightened blood pressure, confusion, hallucinations, and agitation.

Addiction treatment specialists offer round-the-clock supervision to minimize the chances of the symptoms advancing to life-threatening complications. In an emergency, the specialists administer the proper medication for alcohol withdrawal to help patients cope.

Uncovers and Treats Co-occurring Conditions

Before a medically-supervised detox, specialists run a screening test that helps identify co-occurring conditions. Co-occurring conditions usually stem from mental health disorders like depression or trauma. Many patients abusing alcohol live with these conditions unknowingly.

After screening, the clinicians make a customized plan to treat the co-occurring conditions alongside alcohol addiction.

Ongoing Alcohol Addiction Treatment

With professional support, addiction treatment does not end after detox. Instead, the phase proceeds to behavioral therapy, a step whereby specialists help patients minimize the chances of relapse.

Furthermore, behavioral therapy helps patients cope with the new life of sobriety and heal from past trauma, among other benefits. Patients will likely relapse without behavioral therapy since detox does not cure addiction.

Get Support From New Method Wellness

Planning to detox from alcohol is the right step toward quitting an addiction and living an alcohol-free life. However, it is worth noting that patients need a professional’s support to detox successfully and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Furthermore, clinicians treat co-occurring conditions alongside giving behavioral therapy to help patients quit addiction permanently. 

Contact New Method Wellness to learn how to safely detox from alcohol.