If you are reading this, then it is likely that you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol. If so, you are not alone. Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism as it is also known, is a growing issue in the UK, with many people receiving treatment for this illness. Unfortunately, the reality is that many others across the country are not getting the treatment, including alcohol detox, they need either because they do not know how to access it or because they fail to see that they have a problem.
If you feel you have an alcohol problem, you will only be able to tell for sure if your drinking habits are examined. There is no way to diagnose the illness simply by conducting an external examination or by having a blood test. However, a close look at the amount of alcohol a you drink, the frequency of alcohol consumed, and your behaviour both when drinking and when not drinking can usually be enough to confirm or deny your suspicions.
In general, if you feel you have lost control of your drinking and if it is having a negative impact on other areas of your life, it is a problem and one that requires treatment.
Alcohol affects almost every cell in the body. It is a central nervous system depressant and as soon as a person drinks the alcohol enters the bloodstream very quickly. From here it is carried to other parts of the body and is broken down before being completely metabolised. The exact effect of alcohol on a person will depend on his or her size, weight, gender and physical wellbeing.
Alcohol initially makes people feel relaxed and happy, but the more a person drinks, the more confused and drowsy they may become. The body tries to resist the effects of alcohol by over-compensating, but if a person continues to abuse alcohol, the body becomes tolerant to the effects. This means it is necessary for more alcohol to be consumed in order to achieve the desired effects. Continued abuse of alcohol leads to dependence and then addiction.
Those with a physical dependence on alcohol will be required to complete a programme of alcohol detox before they can begin any rehabilitation treatment.
Because alcohol affects almost every cell in the body, it is very complicated to withdraw from it. UKAT rehabilitation clinics generally recommend that those affected by alcoholism complete an alcohol detox programme before entering rehabilitation. It is necessary for all traces of alcohol to be removed from the body so that the person is completely clean before attempting rehab.
Nevertheless, we would never recommend that individuals simply stop drinking by themselves at home. As dangerous as it is to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, it can be equally, or even more, dangerous to suddenly stop drinking by yourself. We would always recommend that patients detox from alcohol in a supervised facility due to the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detox.
Most people are nervous at the idea of giving up alcohol, especially if they have been relying on this substance for many years. They are worried that detox will be painful and uncomfortable, and they get stressed at the thoughts of what life will be like without it.
Here at UKAT, we understand your concerns. Many of the staff who work for us have been exactly where you are now and fully appreciate the internal battles you may be dealing with. However, they are living proof that alcohol detox and rehabilitation works and they can show you how much better their lives are now that they are free from alcohol.
We believe that anyone can overcome alcohol addiction with the right help and support, and it all starts with alcohol detox. So what can you expect?
Withdrawal symptoms are common when detoxing from alcohol, and they range from mild to severe. There is no way to know whether you will experience mild, moderate or severe symptoms until they occur, but in most cases, it is possible to prevent the most serious symptoms in a supervised facility.
Typically, symptoms will begin between six and twelve hours after having taken the last drink. This means that symptoms can occur even when there is a significant amount of alcohol still in your blood. Mild to moderate symptoms includes sweating, tremors, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, agitation, restlessness and insomnia. You may experience a rapid pulse and raised blood pressure, and you could experience anxiety and mood swings.
We know that the above symptoms are unpleasant and may make you feel unwell, but we will do everything we can to ensure you are as comfortable as possible during detox. If you are detoxing in a medically-supervised facility, you may be given medication to ease the symptoms.
Most of the worst symptoms can be prevented in a medically-supervised centre, but it is not always possible. It is important to note that alcohol withdrawal can result in severe symptoms, which are known as delirium tremens, or the DTs. The DTs occur because of sudden changes in the mental and nervous system, and it can cause serious symptoms including hallucinations, delusions, severe shaking, paranoia, seizures, and convulsions. If left untreated, the DTs can be fatal as they can lead to dehydration, shock and cardiac arrest.
While it can be frightening to think of the serious withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol detox, we would remind you that these are rare, especially for those detoxing under medical supervision. Detox need not be painful or uncomfortable. UKAT centres offer a high level of care for patients under the supervision of fully qualified medical professionals and support staff. We want to assure you that your wellbeing is our priority at all times, and the broad spectrum of treatments we offer will ensure you have the greatest chance of long-term recovery success.