Dependence on alcohol happens to be one of the nation’s most common psychiatric disorders. However, depression occupies the number one spot. There are an estimated 17 million people Americans struggling with alcohol abuse. Yet, only a small percentage of these people will ever seek clinical help. Alcohol, more than any substance that people abuse, is most plentiful. It can be found everywhere, from the corner store and grocery store, to restaurants and sports bars.
So, it is a pervasive and difficult habit that many people find almost impossible to break. The desire to kick the habit is a good thing. However, some people make the mistake of thinking they can tackle it alone, under their own supervision and what they deem to be a familiar environment. Quitting alone is referred to as going “cold turkey.” As such, alcohol detox centers provide a highly valued service.
How Alcohol Detox Affects the Body
Heavy drinkers and those who drink regularly release chemicals like serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine to compensate for the depressive effects of alcohol. When suddenly stopping alcohol consumption, as in trying to quit cold turkey, these mentioned chemicals will suddenly flood the body. The body, without alcohol, receives high levels resulting in brain changes and body complications that may include vomiting, dehydration, tremens, and abnormal heart rhythms.
A large percentage of those who suddenly quit, perhaps 30-40 percent, can experience delirium tremens with 24 to 48 hours of their last drink. If left unattended, a person can experience seizures, dehydration, stroke, and even a heart attack. Some people have been known to choke on their own vomit.
How Bad Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
The dangerous thing about alcohol is the body builds up tolerance to alcohol even as the alcoholic continues to drink more and more. Withdrawal symptoms occur more often, and the cycle is repeated until the alcoholic either seeks help or drops off the face of the earth. About half of all people with an alcohol addiction or serious drinking problem experience some type of withdrawal symptoms. The extent of one’s withdrawal symptoms will often depend on the severity of their addiction, health, genes, and the length of time addicted to alcohol.
How Does Clinical Detoxification Take Place?
- Phase One. This phase can occur over a period of several day and can be the most dangerous time period. A major withdrawal can occur within 72 hours.
- Phase Two. The second phase may occur over a period of several months, where the brain is struggling to return to normal functioning. Withdrawal symptoms during this phase are usually non-threatening. The recovering alcoholic is still susceptible to relapse.
- Phase Three. This phase ushers in a high state of uneasiness and dissatisfaction. The individual may also suffer from elevated bouts of anxiety.
If the alcohol detox is medically and professionally treated via alcohol detox facilities, patients have access to benzodiazepines, which are a class of drugs used to ease patients through alcohol withdrawal.
Alcohol Detox Goals
The goal of alcohol detox centers and alcohol detox facilities is to help provide patients with a safe and supervised environment while undergoing detoxification.
Alcohol Detox Centers
Depending on the severity of the patient’s addiction, doctors may prescribe inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment provides support 24/7, and patients are required to spend the duration of their program at the clinic under medical supervision.
Medications are administered and patients are encouraged to eat healthy. Counseling can be made available for both the patient and family members. Outpatient treatments, provided by alcohol detox centers, are less stringent but offer treatments that are just effective as inpatient treatments. Patients have proven themselves to have a measure of control over their addiction, and they can return home each day at the end of each session. Still, they must follow their doctor’s instructions to the letter.