Alcohol Detox is the Most Dangerous
For the individual who believes he or she has simply been partying too much and needs to cut down, the whole idea of detoxing is probably more a change in behavior than anything else. Sure, the coming back from a nasty hangover isn’t pleasant, but it only takes one or two such painful episodes for most people to begin to moderate their drinking behavior.
But when partying becomes a non-stop affair and more of an everyday activity or escalates into a controlling need to drink, detoxing is the first step in seeking to overcome the problem caused by drinking to excess.
Here’s where the difficulty and risk come in. When a person stops drinking alcohol suddenly, just up and quits because he or she thinks it’s time to do so and it’s easy to do, the consequences can be deadly. Sudden alcohol cessation can cause hallucinations, convulsions, and even heart seizure that may result in death. This isn’t something to take lightly and is an excellent reason not to try to detox from alcohol at home.
Anyone with a serious dependency on alcohol should never even consider going “cold turkey” at home. Alcohol detox is a two-phase process. The first phase occurs over a short period of a few days, and it’s during this initial period that the person undergoing detox could experience problems, some of which could be fatal without professional medical intervention. The second and longer phase of alcohol detox occurs over months, as the brain slowly begins to regulate and resume normal functioning. There may be lingering symptoms during the second phase of alcohol detox, but they are not usually life-threatening.
Initial alcohol detox symptoms may include the following:
· Delirium tremens
· Heart failure
Naturally, the extent of the severity and occurrence of symptoms will vary depending on the individual’s history of abuse and individual physical condition, including any exacerbating co-existing medical and/or psychological disorder. However, the risks of detox for all serious abusers of alcohol are potentially severe enough that alcohol detox should never be attempted alone.
Alcohol rehab centers can help you successfully complete an alcohol detox. During a clinically managed alcohol detox, medications may be prescribed that can make the detox more comfortable and safer for the individual. Such medications help reduce or eliminate cravings, ease anxiety and help the individual transition more gently from an abrupt cessation from drinking. A person can’t just take a prescription pill and detoxes on his or her own, however, as these medications require constant monitoring by medical staff.
Over the course of several months of abstinence, long-term withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, cravings and anxiety will gradually reduce in intensity. They may be eased somewhat by medications such as acamprosate and naltrexone, but only continued sobriety and the passage of time will end the long-term detox. Medical staff at our southern California clinics will determine your need for medications and prescribe accordingly.
Of course, detox is only the first step in overcoming alcohol dependence. You need a clear head, not one that’s foggy from alcohol, in order to begin the process of learning how to live a life of sobriety. After professionally-monitored alcohol detox, the individual is ready to embark on long-term recovery. Such therapy often takes place in residential treatment centers and includes one-on-one counseling, group therapy, educational lectures, and other treatment specifically tailored to the individual’s needs.