“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” goes the well-known saying. In the journey towards achieving sobriety the crucial first step is undergoing alcohol detox, which sets the foundation for subsequent treatment and therapy.
The aim of alcohol detox is to remove alcohol from the body to promote long-term sobriety. It makes it easier for people to safely and effectively manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms while preparing them for ongoing treatment and recovery from excessive drinking. Detoxing from alcohol can also improve overall health, mental clarity, and quality of life by helping individuals break free from the clutches of alcohol and regain control over their lives.
How alcohol affects our body and brain
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can affect several parts of your body. When you take a sip, alcohol travels through your mouth, oesophagus, and stomach, where it gets absorbed into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, it reaches your brain, where it can produce feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
However, alcohol affects not only your brain but also your liver, pancreas, and other organs. Long-term alcohol use can lead to several health issues, including liver disease, high blood pressure, and increased risk of certain cancers.
Understanding the alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can occur when an individual who is physically and emotionally reliant on alcohol stops drinking or significantly reduces their alcohol intake. These symptoms can vary in severity depending on the length and amount of alcohol use.
Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically include insomnia or disturbed sleep, anxiety or nervousness, tremors in the hands, arms, or legs, sweating, headaches or mild body aches, loss of appetite or nausea etc.
Moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include increased heart rate or blood pressure, agitation or aggression, severe anxiety or panic attacks, profuse sweating and hallucinations etc.
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, known as delirium tremens (DTs), can include extreme agitation or confusion, profound tremors or seizures, severe hallucinations or delusions, high fever, rapid heartbeat or irregular breathing, intense sweating or dehydration and gastrointestinal bleeding etc.
How to detox from alcohol safely
The safe way to detox from alcohol depends on the individual’s intake of alcohol, the severity of their withdrawal symptoms, and any pre-existing medical conditions they may have. In general, inpatient alcohol detox is necessary for heavy and moderate drinkers, especially those with a history of seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) or any other medical conditions that may increase the risk of complications during alcohol detox.
Should you detox at home – The dangers of DIY detox
Detoxing from alcohol at home can be risky and dangerous. It can be difficult to predict how an individual’s body will respond to detox. In most cases, alcohol detox requires medical supervision to ensure the safety of the client.
Attempting to detox at home without medical supervision can increase the risk of complications and should be avoided. The sudden decrease of alcohol can send the body into shock. An individual may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, including physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea, delirium tremens and mood and behavioural symptoms like agitation, irritability, or anxiety. At a detox centre, you are tapered of alcohol gradually – something which cannot be done without professional support.
Alcohol withdrawal timeline
The timeline for alcohol detox can vary depending on the individual’s specific situation. However, here is a general overview of what to expect at our alcohol detox clinic:
Day one: The first day will involve medical monitoring and medication management to help ease withdrawal symptoms. You may experience anxiety and restlessness.
Days two to three: The individual may experience intense cravings, tremors, sweats, and other physical and psychological symptoms. The medical team will continue to monitor and manage symptoms, including providing medication-assisted treatment if necessary.
Days four to five: By this point, alcohol withdrawal symptoms should begin to subside. However, it is still important to monitor closely for any lingering symptoms or complications.
Day six and beyond: By now, most people will start feeling much better. However, in some cases, the symptoms may continue to linger for a few days or even weeks.
The empowering benefits of alcohol detox
Due to withdrawal symptoms, alcohol detox can be a painful and uncomfortable process. But in the end, it’s all worth it. The benefits of alcohol detox far outweigh the temporary discomfort and challenges of the detox process.
Physically, alcohol detox allows the body to rid itself of harmful toxins and substances that have built up from prolonged alcohol abuse. This leads to increased energy, better sleep, and improved organ function. Mentally, it can help individuals break free from the cycle of relying on alcohol, leading to increased self-esteem, improved mood, and reduced anxiety and depression.
Additionally, alcohol detoxification can provide a strong foundation for alcohol rehab, leading to a greater likelihood of long-term sobriety.
Myths about alcohol detox: separating fact from fiction
Detoxing from alcohol is a crucial step in recovering from alcohol addiction, but there are a few myths surrounding the process.
Myth 1: Medications used in alcohol detox are addictive.
Medications used in alcohol detox, such as benzodiazepines or anti-seizure medications, are carefully monitored by medical professionals and used only briefly to minimise the risk of cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Myth 2: Alcohol Detox is all that’s needed to become sober.
Detoxing from alcohol is just the first step in a long process of recovery from compulsive drinking. It’s important to seek ongoing support, such as therapy or support groups, to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.
Myth 3: Alcohol Detox is a one-size-fits-all process.
Everyone’s experience with alcohol detox is unique, and treatment plans should be tailored to an individual’s needs and circumstances.
Take the next step
Alcohol abuse ruins lives, and there’s no two ways about it. If you or anyone you know is experiencing difficulty controlling their alcohol intake it’s necessary to seek , before any lasting damage is done to your body and mind.
At Linwood House, we understand the challenges of overcoming unhealthy relationships with alcohol, and we are here to support you through every step of the process. Our alcohol detox programme is designed to help you safely and comfortably withdraw from alcohol while minimising the risk of complications. The team of experienced professionals at our alcohol detox clinic will provide you with personalised care, including medical monitoring and emotional support, to ensure your detox is as safe and effective as possible.
With our comprehensive approach to alcohol detox, you can begin your journey to recovery with confidence and hope for a better future. Get in touch with us for more information.