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Alcohol Detox – What to Expect

alcohol detox

Alcohol detox is the first step into recovery from alcoholism or alcohol addiction. Selecting an alcohol detox facility that offers the services necessary for a comfortable and safe detox is an essential. The objective of entering detox is to keep you safe, make sure you are medically stable and to establish a solid discharge plan.  A medical detox will support you in dealing with the psychological effects of detoxing while also managing the physical withdrawal symptoms through various medical and holistic interventions.

Alcohol Detox

Detox from alcohol such as beer or any number of hard liquors, is a daunting process that can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol can cause a physical dependence, the more you drink regularly, and the more likely you are to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking that may require a medical detoxification. How long it actually takes to become physically dependent is different for each individual person, just like the withdrawal symptoms a person may experience vary from one case to the next.

The most common symptoms caused by alcohol withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Shakiness
  • Mood Swings
  • Clammy skin
  • Insomnia or a difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea

More severe forms of alcohol withdrawal can cause:

  • Delirium Tremens
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Vary forms of hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Severe Confusion

Improperly detoxing from alcohol can result in severe health problems. It’s best to be evaluated by a medical professionals before attempting to detox on your own. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms normally begin about 8 hours after the last drink.

Entering a Medical for Alcohol Detox

The safest and most comfortable place to detox from Alcohol is a medical detoxification facility. A proper alcohol detox will ensure you are medically stable, free of all mood and mind altering substances, safe and comfortable.

Detox facilities use varying methods to treat patients detoxifying from alcohol. Some facilities taper alcoholics down using benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Valium or Librium. These are cross-tolerant with alcohol and during withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines can be used as a substitute. Benzodiazepines also have been shown to reduce the incidence of Delirium Tremens (mentioned above) and seizures. 

Benzos can reduce the amount of cases where a client leaves treatment against medical advice, resulting in a higher amount of patients completing detox successfully. There are facilities that use other medical interventions for alcohol detox, such as phenobarbital. These can be effective with proper medical management and a compassionate staff that listens to the concerns of their patients. A huge issue with some detoxes in a low staff to client ratio resulting patients not getting care unique to their specific situation. While most patients with a severe alcohol problem and no other health conditions can be treated similarly, as their detox progresses people may have different reactions to how their specific regimen affects their body in coordination with the detox symptoms they are feeling. Treating a patient detoxing is an ongoing process that has continuous changes to medications ordered, and interventions offered.

What to look for in an alcohol detox facility?

You should ask the following questions prior to picking an alcohol detox facility:

  • What is your staff to client ratio?
  • How often and during what hours do I have access to a medical doctor?
  • Is there a doctor on-call at all times?
  • What medical interventions do you use for my detox symptoms?
  • Are your medical regimens customized to each patient or standardize 5 or 7-day tapers?
  • Do you offer inpatient or outpatient care?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • Do you treat co-occurring mental health disorders?

Keep in mind we do not ask about amenities. Many people ask why you wouldn’t ask what gourmet food is available or if they have comfortable beds. Amenities are important, but picking a alcohol detox facility with highly trained and experienced staff is the highest priority. Staff who treat you with respect, educate you on how alcohol detox will affect you, and how they will treat it in a safe manner will make the treatment more successful. The quality of staff is hard to judge over the phone and that is why we personally tour detox facilities throughout the United States in order to offer the most appropriate recommendations for our client’s unique situation.

If you would like to speak with a treatment specialist, use our contact form or call us at 1-800-249-1932.