When Do I Need an Alcohol Detox?

Drinking alcohol is considered sociable in most quarters and is something that many people do together at parties, in restaurants, and even at home watching TV and relaxing. But while most drink in moderation and stick well within the Government guidelines for safe consumption, there are others who drink far more than this on a regular basis.

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a physical dependence in some individuals, and to regain control of their lives again, they will more than likely need treatment. Some people ponder the question of ‘when is alcohol detox needed’; the answer is simple – it is necessary when a physical dependence is present.

Unfortunately, most individuals just do not comprehend what constitutes alcohol abuse and fail to see that they may be in danger of developing a physical addiction. Some do not realise they are addicted to alcohol until they try to quit and find that they cannot. Others prefer to act as if everything is okay, even when deep down they know they have a problem. They hope that by ignoring their situation, it will somehow go away by itself. This rarely happens though.

Is Fear of Detox Preventing You from Getting Help?

Detox is a process that strikes fear into the heart of many addicts. In fact, there are countless individuals who would rather continue with their addictive behaviour and all the negative consequences that accompany it than face an alcohol detox. The reason for this is that they have the idea that an alcohol detox is going to be the most painful thing they have ever experienced.

Some are hoping that they might be able to have treatment without a detox and are anxious to find out when is alcohol detox needed in the hopes that they can bypass this process. The reality is that if you want to overcome your alcohol addiction, you are going to need to get sober; to do this, you will need a detox.

You should be aware that detox is a natural process that occurs when you stop drinking. There is no escaping it as it is your body’s attempt to get back to normal. As it tries to get rid of all the built-up chemicals and toxins, you will more than likely experience a number of withdrawal symptoms. It is these symptoms that worry people so much.

Nevertheless, what you should be aware of is that a detox may not be nearly as bad as you might think. We have come a long way in terms of managing alcohol detox effectively. Images you may have seen on your TV screen or in movies a long time ago of people being tied to a bed while they dried out are not the way an alcohol detox occurs these days.

Do You Need an Alcohol Detox?

The fact that you are here now reading this blog post suggests that you are affected by addiction in some way. Maybe you are looking for information for a loved one or perhaps you are concerned about yourself. You might be interested in finding out when is alcohol detox needed and if it is a process that you may require.

To determine if you need an alcohol detox, it is worth taking a good look at your drinking habits. As you might be aware, a doctor cannot diagnose an alcohol problem with a physical examination or a blood test. The only way to know for sure is to be honest about your attitude and behaviour in terms of alcohol consumption.

For example, think about how much alcohol you drink now compared to when you first started drinking. It is not uncommon for alcohol consumption to increase. Maybe you were having a glass of wine at the weekend with your meal but that slowly increased to a couple of glasses at the weekend. You might have then started having a glass of wine every evening but now that you think about how much alcohol you are drinking, you may be shocked to find that your consumption has increased to two glasses or even a whole bottle.

The above is just an example of how alcohol consumption can increase without you even realising. As you build up a tolerance to the effects of alcohol, you will need more of it to achieve the feelings you desire. Occasional use can progress to habitual use in which you do not even make a conscious decision to drink; it is just something that you do without thinking.

An alcohol detox will be necessary if you have developed a physical dependence on alcohol. To tell if this might be the case for you, you should think about how you feel when the effects of alcohol wear off. Do you suffer headaches, nausea, sweating or shaking? Have you found that even a sip or two of alcohol can help to make these problems go away?

If you can relate to this, then it is likely that you are physically addicted and that your body craves alcohol whenever the effects wear off. You may have tried to quit alcohol or just cut back on how much you consume but found that you were unable to. This is a common problem for those with addiction. Even when they want to quit, they find that they do not have the strength to do it alone. They need help.

What to Expect from an Alcohol Detox?

Once you stop drinking, your body will begin the healing process. It will attempt to get rid of the remaining toxins and as it does this, you are likely to experience various withdrawal symptoms. The early symptoms you experience will probably be like those that normally occur when you need alcohol. You may also suffer from irritation, agitation, and nervousness. You might lose your appetite and find it difficult to sleep, despite being tired.

As your detox progresses, your symptoms may get more intense. Moreover, as alcohol detox can be complicated, there is a risk of severe symptoms. Nevertheless, in a detox facility with experienced staff members on hand, the worst symptoms can usually be prevented.

There is no way to tell for sure how your detox will progress because it can be influenced by many factors. The length of time you have been addicted, the frequency with which you drink alcohol, and the amount of alcohol you normally drink can all play a role. Your age and health could also affect the way in which your detox progresses and the type and severity of symptoms that you experience.

Nonetheless, you will be far more comfortable and much safer if you choose to detox in a dedicated facility rather than at home.

Will You be Cured After Completing a Detox?

Once your detox is finished, usually after around one to two weeks, you may feel much better. Most of your symptoms will have subsided at this point and you might have a more positive outlook on life. Many people mistakenly believe that they are cured at this point.

However, it is important to be aware that there is no cure for addiction yet. Furthermore, you also need to remember that a detox only addresses the physical part of your illness. It is designed to help you break free from alcohol abuse and to get your mind and body clean in preparation for the next stage of the journey – rehabilitation.

The temptation to quit treatment at this stage could be high because you may be lulled into a false sense of security. In your mind, you might be thinking that you are never going to drink again, and although you would be right to be proud of yourself for being clean for longer than you may have been in years, you should not fool yourself into thinking that you are completely better.

The reasons you began abusing alcohol in the first place also need to be addressed. These reasons may be buried deep, and without help from professional counsellors and therapists, they could cause a return to addictive behaviour in the future.

With rehabilitation, you will work closely with a team who will help you to overcome your illness with a view to permanent sobriety. Using a series of counselling and therapy techniques, they will work with you to identify the cause of your addiction. You will learn how to challenge negative thoughts and behaviours and will be taught new healthier coping strategies that you can take with you on your return to independent sober living.

Maintaining Your Sobriety

Once you have done the hard work involved with detox and rehabilitation, you should be prepared for a lifetime of sobriety maintenance. Addiction is a treatable illness, but it is not a curable one. Being aware of the risk of relapse and working hard to prevent it will ensure that you keep your recovery on track.

You can access support within your community by way of local fellowship support groups. Becoming involved with such groups will mean you always have a group of like-minded people to turn to for advice and support when you need it. Many recovering alcoholics believe that their membership of such groups has been instrumental in terms of keeping them sober for decades.

If you would like more information about any part of the recovery process, please call us here at UKAT. We can provide a listening ear should you need it, and if you are ready to get started on a programme of recovery, we can offer advice and information about our clinics. Please call today to find out more about us and what we do.