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Detoxing from alcohol can be a dangerous process, and shouldn’t be attempted alone. The best place to go for help for detoxing from alcohol is a treatment facility that has experience with this type of procedure and can offer medical treatment if necessary.
Because each person is different, individuals that go through alcohol detox can have unique experiences, but there are certain things most people can expect during detox. The following is a guide, or a “What to Expect Timeline” for alcohol detox. Alcohol detox experiences vary and what you read here should not be taken as medical advice. To ensure a safe and comfortable detox period, please consult with your healthcare provider and call us to get placement in one of our detox facilities.
Admission to Alcohol Detox
The first step to overcoming alcoholism is asking for help. For many people, this first step takes the form of a desperate phone call to a hotline, or a run-in with law enforcement. For others, it takes years of pleading and hoping by family members, until finally the individual admits they have a problem and will accept help. However the first step is taken, finding the right treatment facility is of utmost importance. My Recovery Helper connects individuals and families with the treatment facility and detox program that will meet their unique needs.
Upon admission, the individual’s addiction history will be evaluated and a current health assessment will be performed. If warranted, the individual will then be transferred to a medical detox facility, or will begin withdrawal under the watchful supervision of rehab staff.
Early Withdrawal: Up to 12 Hours Post Alcohol
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the person’s last drink, and often begin as mild anxiety and shakiness. The early withdrawal phase usually begins 6-12 hours after the last drink, and is categorized by the following symptoms, according to the National Institute of Health:
These symptoms, while irritating, are rarely dangerous. Most individuals can get through this phase of early withdrawal with basic care to keep them comfortable.
Mid Withdrawal: 12-72 Hours Post Alcohol
The next stage of detox is more serious than the first. Individuals in this state of detox will still experience the symptoms of early withdrawal, but their symptoms might also progress to:
- Irregular heart beat
- Low-grade fever
These effects of alcohol detox can become dangerous, which is why an individual going through alcohol withdrawal should not attempt this process alone. The most serious side effects of alcohol withdrawal are delirium tremens, or DTs, which cause the severe confusion, hallucination, and tremors. DTs usually develop between 48 and 72 hours after the last drink, with the peak occurrence being at five days. These dangerous symptoms are more likely among patients that have abused alcohol for a prolonged period of time, who drank heavily, and those that have gone through detox already in the past.
Treatment and Symptom Management During Detox
An individual that is undergoing medical detox for alcoholism will be monitored closely during this stage of detox. Medical care usually consists of managing the comfort level of the patient and preventing complications. At times, prescription drugs such as tranquilizers or anticonvulsants are used to manage symptoms. Other patients only require fluid therapy and supportive care to get them through the most difficult stages of detox. Still other patients and facilities use natural methods, such as acupuncture, meditation, or yoga to keep the individual comfortable.
Post Withdrawal: 2 Weeks to 1 Year Post Alcohol
Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal disappear within two weeks of the last drink. However, cravings will usually still be felt, and the individual will still be at risk for relapse. The symptoms during this stage of detox include:
It is during this time, after the most difficult part of detox is complete, that the individual should participate in an alcohol rehab program. During treatment, the individual will learn about their addiction, including the causes and factors contributing to it, and ways to manage their cravings for alcohol. It is important that the person attend therapy and counseling sessions, and that they learn positive activities to replace the detrimental addiction of drinking. It is during this time that the individual will also begin to rebuild his or her relationships with family and loved ones.
Long Term Care
Alcoholism is a disease that does not simply go away on its own, or disappear once the alcohol is out of the person’s system. In order to keep from relapsing, many individuals must avoid alcohol for the rest of their lives. During the months and years after alcohol detox and rehab, an individual must remain diligent in their sobriety, and surround themselves with positive influences that can help encourage them to remain sober. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous can help those in recovery stay sober.
My Recovery Helper is here to help. We can find the alcohol detox program that offers you or your family member the best chance at success. We work with treatment facilities that offer the highest level of patient care, and that strive to provide compassionate, comprehensive treatment for alcoholism.
If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol detox, contact us today at 844.867.6835 to learn how to take control of your life again.
Alcohol Detox Symptoms
According to the National Institute of Health, alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Decreased appetite