Did you know approximately 88,000 deaths are connected to alcohol abuse every year? And 1 in 6 Americans die daily from alcohol-related causes?
These statistics are staggering. But they don’t have to apply to you or a loved one.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect during alcohol detox.
What is Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox?
Medically assisted alcohol detox is the quickest way out of the pain of alcohol addiction. It’s also only the first step in the recovery process.
Medically supervised detox occurs when all alcohol intake is discontinued. You are observed by a doctor and medical staff while your body re-adjusts to not having alcohol inside it.
24/7 Medical Supervision
The detox takes place in a facility where you’ll be monitored and staff is available 24/7. You’ll be given detox medication to help your body ease away from its dependence on the substance and prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
How Long Will I Need to Detox?
The length of time for alcohol detox can vary slightly from person to person. But the typical range is 8 to 10 days.
The length of time is oftentimes associated with how severe and how long the addiction has been allowed to continue. Metabolism, age, and sex may also play a role in the length of time for detox.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Can I Expect During Alcohol Detox?
Addiction is a brain disease characterized by faulty wiring of the reward center of the brain, cravings, tolerance, dependence and an eventual complete loss of control.
Severity and Duration
The severity and duration of your withdrawal symptoms are connected to the severity and duration of your alcohol addiction. The more you drank and the longer you drank heavily, the worse your symptoms will be.
But if you realized alcohol was a problem for you after only a year or two of drinking, your symptoms will be less severe.
The First 24 Hours of Detox
The first symptom you’ll experience when your body is detoxing from alcohol is intense cravings. You will likely become consumed with the overwhelming desire to find a drink as the alcohol leaves your system.
These are the most crucial and precious hours of the detox process. If you can find the will to brave through this period, you’re halfway there.
Other symptoms that emerge during this time often include:
- Feeling physically ill, exhausted and weak
- Irritability, irrational fearful thoughts, and depressive mood
- Sudden elevation in heart rate and blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, and nightmares
- Body tremors that are very comfortable
Depending on the severity of your addiction, these symptoms can get worse throughout the detox process before the stop completely.
Keep a Motivator Ever Accessible
It can be helpful to have access to a picture of a spouse, child or loved one during the detox process. This can strengthen your resolve and remind you of why you’re choosing to get better.
The 48 to 72 Hours Following the Start of the Detox Process
The second round of symptoms escalates for the next two days. This is the time period when your brain disease begins to realize its supply is cut off for good. And it begins to panic.
Hallucinations and potentially life-threatening seizures are among the most dangerous symptoms during this period. Potential detox experiences during the next two days involve:
- Rapid pulse and the feeling of your heart beating out of your chest
- Chest pains can signify possible blood pressure or heart problems
- Major, life-threatening seizures
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
DTs can include the physical manifestations of fever, mood swings, trembling, perspiration, chills, disorientation and erratic heartbeat. Hallucinations and seizures may also accompany this withdrawal phenomenon.
The Remaining Days of Detox
Cravings usually get worse over the next few days of detox. Your body will likely feel achy and uncomfortable during this time.
Seizures are still possible, but are much less likely after the first 48 hours of detox. You will be closely supervised for possible seizures, heart issues, and stroke. The risk of these conditions continues to be elevated throughout detox.
DT symptoms typically run their course over the initial 48 to 96 hours after you have your last drink. But sometimes the symptoms will be delayed until a week or 10 days following the last drink.
These final days of detox will continue to involve close supervision, detox medications, and supportive care.
What Happens After Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox is only the first step towards recovering from alcohol addiction.
Following alcohol detox, you’ll either enter a residential treatment program or an outpatient program. During this time, you’ll learn:
- To reconnect with yourself, your feelings, needs and wants
- Ways to cope with stress and grief without alcohol
- Refusal skills for when a person offers you a drink
- How to live a full, happy and fulfilled life within sobriety
- The importance of peer support in recovery
Peer Support in Recovery
Throughout the recovery process, peer support is absolutely essential.
This is why support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Codependents Anonymous are so prevalent.
Over the first few years in recovery, you’ll learn to laugh again. To love again. To connect with others again.
Group meetings are a great place for you to do that. AA offers a safe, supportive atmosphere with peers who are struggling with many of the same battles as you are.
Continued peer support is vital for maintaining recovery. Addiction thrives in isolation. The remedy for this is to connect with other people in whatever setting is most meaningful to you.
Why Trying to Detox By Yourself is Not a Good Idea
As illustrated above, alcohol detox can be incredibly dangerous if not medically supervised. From life-threatening seizures to heart issues, detox is a process that requires medical assistance.
This is why it’s so important to find a facility with staff trained to deal with these symptoms during detox.
Finding the Right Alcohol Detox
The disease of addiction is cunning and wishes nothing more than to see you in pain. It brings heartache, suffering and a sense of loss to you and everyone around you.
But there is hope.
If you or a loved one is in need of detox or other addiction services, contact us at Sunflower Wellness Retreat.