21 December 2016

What to Expect from an Alcohol Detox?

The first stage on the road to recovery from alcoholism is an alcohol detox. However, the very idea of a detox is enough to prevent many people from reaching out for help. They are afraid of what the alcohol detox is going to be like and would rather pretend they do not have a problem than sign up for something that is going to cause them stress and pain.

It is important to be aware that an alcohol detox is not a pleasant experience, but it does not have to be a painful one, especially for those who decide to complete their detox in a dedicated facility under medical supervision.

It is also important to remember that failing to get help for alcoholism could end up being a death sentence. Those who continue to abuse alcohol without getting help are in danger of developing a range of mental and physical health problems. Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances here in the UK, and it is among the top three contributors to poor health and premature death. Without professional help and an alcohol detox, you could be putting your life in danger.

What is Alcohol Detox Like?

Most people do not associate alcohol with addiction and poor health because it is a legal substance and one that many believe is to be enjoyed with friends and family members. While alcohol drunk in moderation is considered relatively safe, those who abuse it are risking health problems such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, depression, anxiety, dementia and some forms of cancer.

Alcohol affects almost every single cell in the body, so the withdrawal process can be complicated. For most people, the symptoms associated with quitting alcohol will begin around six to twelve hours after the person has had his or her last drink.

Even while they still have a significant amount of alcohol in their body, patients may notice mild symptoms. Mild symptoms such as shaking and sweating are relatively common among those who are detoxing from alcohol, and many people describe them as akin to having the flu.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When you quit alcohol, your body will immediately begin the healing process, and as it tries to get back to normal, it will start to expel the remaining chemicals and toxins that have built up over long-term abuse of the substance.

As the body races in response to the lack of alcohol, you may start to notice hyperactivity symptoms including tremors or jitters. This shaking can be quite mild, but some people will shake so badly that they are unable to function. Other mild symptoms include:

  1. loss of appetite
  2. sweating
  3. nausea
  4. vomiting
  5. restlessness
  6. insomnia
  7. anxiety
  8. mood swings

Most of the mild symptoms will subside within a few days, but there are some that will linger on for weeks and even months.

Some patients will experience hallucinations during their alcohol detox, and while these are not dangerous or life-threatening, they can be upsetting for the individual and anyone supervising the detox. Staff in a supervised facility will have experience of helping patients who are experiencing hallucinations and will know how to react.

Major Symptoms

While most affected individuals will suffer from nothing more than mild to moderate symptoms, there are some who will experience severe symptoms as they detox from alcohol. Major symptoms include convulsions and seizures, and these tend to occur between six and seventy-two hours after the last drink. The good news is that these symptoms can almost always be prevented in a supervised detox facility.

Delirium tremens (DTs) are also possible among those detoxing from alcohol and should always be treated as a medical emergency. The DTs are the result of a series of sudden changes to the nervous system and usually occur around two to three days after the individual has stopped drinking.

With the DTs, symptoms such as sweating, shaking and hallucinations will be much more intense. Patients often suffer from paranoid delusions, and they may believe that everyone is out to get them. This can result in them becoming aggressive and violent, which may put themselves and others in danger. With early intervention and treatment, the DTs can be prevented.

Why Alcohol Detox Facilities are a Good Choice

It is important to remember that not everyone who is detoxing from alcohol will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. However, it is also a good idea to be aware that it is impossible to tell who will and who will not be affected. For that reason, a supervised detox is always a good idea.

Experts agree that detoxing under careful medical supervision is the safest and most comfortable way to complete the process. If appropriate to the patient’s situation, a doctor can prescribe medication to ease any symptoms, and this can help to make this essential process easier to manage.

For more information about supervised detox programmes, contact us here at UKAT today.

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