Did you know that severe alcoholics require a medical detox in order to safely stop drinking? Quitting cold turkey can be fatal. Sometimes, alcoholics attempt to wean themselves off of booze. Their powerlessness over alcohol makes this difficult if not impossible.
Medical detox ensures the health and safety of the patient while making them as comfortable as possible during the process. It is strongly recommended as the proper course of action for alcoholics trying to quit.
Depending on the severity of a person’s alcoholism, various symptoms occur as they cease drinking. Seek medical attention immediately if any of the following occur:
- Disorientation and/or confusion
- Uncontrollable shaking
What does the detox process involve?
First and foremost, detox offers medical supervision. Doctors and/or nurses constantly monitor your loved one. Vitals get taken regularly. Detox occurs safely in a medical setting.
Medication offers relief from unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Clients typically take a benzodiazepine or a barbiturate for their primary detox medicine. Secondary medications include muscle relaxers, anti-nausea meds, and a pill to lower blood pressure (which often skyrockets during detox), if necessary. All of this is topped off with a cocktail of vitamins to replenish their deficiencies.
Worth noting is the fact that the primary detox medicine gets reduced by a gradual taper. This serves a dual purpose. It allows clients to be as comfortable as possible as the alcoholic toxins leave their body. Additionally, it limits the exposure to medications (such as primary detox meds) that could potentially be habit-forming with regular use.
How long will withdrawal symptoms last?
An exact answer to this question doesn’t exist. The length and severity of symptoms differ for everyone. The worst of the physical discomfort usually subsides around 72 hours.
Most alcoholics have trembling hands for the first few weeks– sometimes months– after getting sober. While this may be inconvenient, it is not serious and subsides over time.
Give yourself grace during detox if you are an alcoholic. This is not the time to stop smoking cigarettes or go on a rigid diet. In fact, if you are a smoker, expect your smoking to increase during detox. Reducing cigarette consumption can be dealt with at a later date.
While nausea and vomiting are common in early detox, expect a hearty appetite once your stomach settles. Many people in early recovery crave sweets. Don’t deprive yourself. Despite having a voracious appetite, lots of sober alcoholics still end up losing weight because of the lack of calories from booze.
Other symptoms can include changes in sleep patterns, irritability, and brain fog. Generally speaking, all of these symptoms improve with the passing of time.
Your treatment team will also tell you about PAWS: post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is very much real. PAWS involves symptoms associated with detox and early withdrawal emergence weeks or even months after getting sober.
Where does my loved one go after detox?
They have options. After detox, most clients move on to residential treatment. For some, this looks like a 30-day program. Others may opt for three, six, or even year-long inpatient programs.
Outpatient programs are available as well. Most facilities offer PHP (partial hospitalization program) to help clients transition back into daily life. There’s also an IOP (intensive outpatient program), which can often be completed during nights and weekends– meaning the client can still maintain employment.
Furthermore, the treatment team advises all clients about various support groups where like-minded, sober individuals share their recovery journeys. Alcoholics Anonymous is usually the first stop for outside assistance, yet countless other groups exist. SMART Recovery, Medically Assisted Recovery Anonymous, Life Ring, Recovery Dharma, are just some of the other options available.
Whatever path you choose, rest assured that your treatment team will work with you to develop a solid plan. Each and every client receives personalized support.
Are you or a loved one sick and tired of being sick and tired? Give us a call at 844-903-2111. Our experienced counselors are available to help 24/7. Your call is free and strictly confidential. Start your sobriety journey today.