What to Expect From Alcohol Detox

What to Expect From Alcohol Detox

Alcohol is a drug that is no respecter of persons. Addiction to alcohol affects men and women, young and old, and people from every socio-economic stratum. Because alcohol is addictive both physically and psychologically, most alcoholics require help as they seek to regain control over their lives. Detox clinics are a way an alcoholic can get that help.

Detox Begins With a Health Check

Alcohol detox treatment can be obtained either through inpatient or outpatient facilities. For the person who feels capable of handling their physical and emotional symptoms, outpatient treatment may be a fit for them. However, the medical care provided by inpatient treatment centers is an important factor for careful monitoring.

Alcohol detox treatment usually begins with a standard health exam to look for any potential preexisting conditions which could be affected by the detox process. Monitoring concurrent medical issues is a great benefit in inpatient detox treatment.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms During Alcohol Detox

Symptoms which a person going through alcohol addiction detox can expect are:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Itching
  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Restlessness
  • Severe disorientation
  • Hallucination
  • Tremors
  • Tachycardia (rapid heart beat)

Because vomiting is not uncommon during alcohol detox, it is helpful to have medical staff on hand to monitor the person’s fluids, electrolytes and even their overall nutrition. Persons who experience extreme anxiety or strong cravings for alcohol may be treated with sedatives or anti-anxiety medications by the attending physician. In some cases, seizures may occur, in which case the staff doctors are standing by with appropriate anti-convulsant medications.

Flushing the body of contaminating alcohol is the goal of detox. This may lead to other unpleasant side effects for a short period, but it provides vital organs like the liver a rest from the poisonous presence of alcohol. Symptoms not treated with anti-anxiety or anti-convulsant medications may be alleviated by chordiazepoxide or oxazepan. These medications may be reserved for those who experience moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but it is up to the facility and the staff physician.

New Skills and New Supports Needed

In addition to the medical attention given to the physical ramifications of addiction, most alcohol detox centers will provide counseling to help people navigate the emotional symptoms of withdrawal and those psychological conditions which may have triggered the addiction initially. Once the detox process has been completed and new coping skills have been gained, the person will be ready to face the pressures and temptations of daily life. Relapse is a significant risk, so connecting with support systems such as Alcoholic Anonymous, outpatient clinics and personal sponsors will be crucial to ensuring that the person will continue to make positive life choices.

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