How to Safely Detox From Alcohol
When you’re addicted to alcohol, you reach a point where you’ve had enough. You’re tired of blacking out, waking up hungover, and having no memory of what happened the night before.
You want to stop this from happening. That realization is the first step toward recovery and might lead you to wonder, “how can I detox from alcohol?”
There is no simple way to get alcohol out of your system faster than usual, but there are ways to alleviate symptoms and make detoxification easier.
If you take care of yourself and follow care practices while you have alcohol in your system, the symptoms will fade, and you will start feeling like yourself again.
When someone decides to conquer their alcohol addiction, alcohol detox is usually the first step.
- Alcohol detox refers to clearing the body of alcohol to pave the way for long-term treatment.
- Alcohol detox results in a range of mild to severe symptoms of withdrawal.
- Alcohol detox takes an average of one week to complete. It may take longer in extreme cases.
- Because of its various benefits, medical alcohol detox has also been encouraged over at-home alcohol detox.
Therefore, if you are struggling with a drinking problem and want to quit it and live a happy, sober life, The Recovery Team can help you. Contact us today at (800) 817-1247!
What is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detoxification, or alcohol detox, is the gradual elimination of alcohol from the body that a person has consumed. Detoxification aims to treat withdrawal symptoms when someone quits using alcohol or drugs.
Everyone’s experience with detox is different. The type of substance used and the length of time it was used affect how detox will go.
Most drugs have withdrawal symptoms that might last for days or months.
The length of the withdrawal is determined by several factors, including:
- Type of drug the user is addicted to
- Duration of substance abuse
- Family history
- Method of abuse (smoking, snorting, injecting, or swallowing)
- Amount of substance taken
- Underlying medical conditions
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Everyone who undergoes alcohol detox will have a different experience.
However, the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are as follows:
- Shaking and tremors
- Heightened blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
Delirium Tremens (DTs)
Delirium tremens, or DTs, is a condition that occurs as a result of severe alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens can be life-threatening because it causes seizures. One out of every twenty people who undergo alcohol withdrawal will also have delirium tremens.
Most delirium tremens symptoms appear 2 to 3 days after a person stops drinking. If you or someone you know shows signs of delirium tremens, get medical attention immediately.
The symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- Intense confusion
- Hypersensitivity to sound, touch, and light
- Intense agitation or irritability
- Emotional distress
Alcohol Detox Process
While the alcohol detox process can vary depending on the severity of addiction, the amount of alcohol consumed, and co-occurring medical conditions, most experiences can be categorized into the following four stages.
- Withdrawal from alcohol usually begins as early as two hours after the last drink but more often starts around 6-24 hours after the last drink.
- Symptoms at the early stage are usually mild.
- Medication is not typically needed at this stage.
- It is considered the worst stage for most addictions.
- This stage begins between 24-48 hours after the last drink.
- At this point, nearly all traces of the alcohol has left the body.
- Relapse is also most likely in this stage.
- This is the stage when medication and therapy are most crucial.
- The body is growing to adjust to the absence of alcohol.
- Symptoms begin to fade.
- Medication can be weaned off or ceased.
- Other types of therapy may be introduced.
- This is where the most intense and severe symptoms (delirium tremens) set in.
- The final stage lasts between 5 to 14 days after the detox process begins.
- Inpatients are capable of leaving detox and enrolling in inpatient treatment.
Ways to Detox From Alcohol At-Home
At-home detox can be an intense experience, and it is not recommended to undergo alcohol detox on your own.
However, here are a few useful tips to help increase your chances of successful at-home alcohol detox:
Set Time for Detox
The length of detoxification depends on the severity of the addiction. It may take weeks, and you may have withdrawal symptoms for months. Setting aside time to concentrate on the detox might assist you in preparing for withdrawal.
Remove All Access to Alcohol
Having easy access to alcohol may persuade you to resume drinking. You should avoid pubs and liquor stores and dispose of any alcoholic beverages in your house. Making alcohol harder to get can improve the odds of a successful detox.
Ask for Support From Loved Ones
Request a family member or a friend to check in on you throughout the detox process. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be very unpleasant and even life-threatening. If something goes wrong, your loved ones can contact a medical professional.
Taper Your Alcohol Intake Gradually
Gradually tapering off alcohol helps in the management of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It can assist your body in adjusting to the absence of alcohol. Tapering lengthens the alcohol detox process but may benefit you in the long run.
Finding New, Healthy Hobbies or Activities
Keeping yourself occupied might assist you in avoiding drinking triggers. Engage yourself in a new activity or plan a project to distract yourself from triggers and cravings. You can even take advantage of this opportunity to develop positive and healthier behaviors.
Stay Fit and Maintain Proper Nutrition
Regular exercise and proper nutrition can assist you in adjusting to the detox. Exercise can help decrease stress, enhance mood, and strengthen your immune system.
Eating healthy foods helps in the recovery of your body from the effects of alcohol abuse. It also ensures that your body receives sufficient nutrients to sustain stamina amid the stress of detox.
Attend Support Groups
A network of individuals who understand and care about you can help you recover. Attendance at support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is not required, and meetings can be held online.
Medical Alcohol Detox
Medical detox helps the body to cleanse itself of the effects of alcohol in a safe and controlled medical setting. Detox gradually restores equilibrium and brings the brain and body back into normal functioning without the use of alcohol.
This can be done using various approaches, either alone or in combination, including:
- Specific medications to ease the withdrawal phase
- Physical activity and nutritional support to promote early recovery
- Behavioral and psychological counseling and support
When a person physically dependent on alcohol decides to stop drinking, medical care is essential to ensure their comfort and safety.
Side effects of alcohol withdrawal can be uncomfortable and life-threatening, including seizures and agitation, which may require pharmacologic intervention to manage safely.
Delirium tremens (DTs), a severe form of acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome, can cause profound mental state changes and life-threatening seizures. The main goal of medical detox is to reduce the risk of these severe withdrawal symptoms.
Medication Used for Alcohol Detox
The physical effects of alcohol withdrawal on the body can be severe. It can cause very unpleasant side effects as well as health problems.
To get through the pain and ensure a much higher success rate, doctors prescribe various medications to lessen the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and the risk of health complications.
Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medications to alleviate the unpleasant effects of alcohol withdrawal and prevent seizures.
Benzodiazepines slow down the central nervous system (CNS), thus creating a soothing sensation and treating muscular spasms, insomnia, and anxiety.