Detox from alcohol is needed when an individual becomes physically dependent on the substance. Generally, detox programs for alcohol withdrawal are medically supervised. This is due to the nature of alcohol detox. Detox, or detoxification, is a process that occurs naturally in the body when it is attempting to clear the toxins and waste products from the system. Withdrawal management is typically given to individuals going through an alcohol detox treatment program. Withdrawal management refers to a guided process that intends to address the uncomfortable symptoms that occur due to withdrawal from alcohol.There are standard guidelines to conducted alcohol withdrawal management provided by global health organizations. The main intervention to provide comfort to individuals going through alcohol withdrawal is to administer a benzodiazepene like diazepam or librium.
Withdrawal from alcohol begins with somatic or physical symptoms which can include increased body temperature, irregular heart rate, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, shakiness, and increased sweating. Behavioral changes may also occur and can include hyperarousal (i.e., increased sensitivity to stimuli in the environment), loss of appetite, insomnia, and restlessness. Psychological symptoms that may occur in the withdrawal phase of detox include mood swings, anxiety, psychosis (i.e., delusions and/or hallucinations), and depression. Individuals with more severe withdrawal symptoms may experience delirium tremens due to level of tolerance and the quick decrease of alcohol in the blood that occurs when the individual discontinues alcohol use. Symptoms experienced by individuals with delirium tremens may include hallucinations, confusion, seizures, and disorientation. Individuals who develop delirium tremens typicall begin to show symptoms within two days after alcohol has been discontinued. Delirium tremens usually lasts for several days and requires medical treatment and supervision. Medical treatment for delirium tremens is crucial due to the possibility of developing life threatening seizures and psychotic symptoms.
Alcohol Detox: What to Expect
It is important to keep in mind that if an individual who is dependent on alcohol suddenly quits without medical assistance, they may experience increased severity of symptoms. Professionals recommend that individuals should seek medical guidance and assistance prior to quitting alcohol. Individuals may experience different levels of withdrawal, with individuals who had a more severe physical dependence experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms. Other factors that may effect an individual’s withdrawal symptom severity includes:
- Individual factors (e.g., gender, mental health, age, gender, and body weight.
- Polysubstance abuse and/or dependence
- Method of detox
The major factors that differentiate individuals who develop severe withdrawal symptoms and those who develop mild withdrawal symptoms are classified by their individual onset, overall presentation, amount of time the symptoms occur, as well as any other complications that may happen. Individuals with mild alcohol withdrawal generally begin to experience symptoms three to six hours after discontinuing alcohol use. Individuals experiencing mild alcohol withdrawal typically experience symptoms for 24 to 48 hours and are not likely to face complications.
Common symptoms for individuals with mild alcohol withdrawal syndrome include mood swings, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, headache, and increased heart rate. Individuals with moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal typically begin to feel the symptoms related to alcohol withdrawal two to four hours after last using alcohol. Individuals with moderate to severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome generally experience withdrawal symptoms for one to seven days and are more likely to develop complications. Those who have severe alcohol withdrawal experience all of the symptoms that are experienced with mild alcohol withdrawal as well as seizures, delusions, or hallucinations.
Further, individuals may experience more complications related to pre-existing medical conditions or dehydration. These types of complications can be potentially lethal if not managed and treated by a medical professional. Medically supervised withdrawal from alcohol is always the best and safest choice for most individuals who are dependent on alcohol.
If you would like more information regarding detox for alcohol dependence or long term treatment for alcohol dependence, please call us at 833-820-2922. We are able to help you choose the treatment program that is best for you or your loved one. We are knowledgeable and experienced in the treatment of addiction and alcohol abuse and we look forward to speaking with you and providing information regarding treatment options.