Each person will experience the detox process differently. Factors such as age, physiology, mental and physical health, the abuse of other drugs, the length of alcohol consumption, the frequency of alcohol consumption, and average amount consumed, will all impact your experience of detox.
Symptoms experienced during detox from alcohol may be as mild as a headache or nausea, however some people experience severe delirium tremens (DTs) marked by seizures and/or hallucinations.
Withdrawing from alcohol can be a difficult and potentially dangerous process, it is very important that you seek appropriate help and support if you are planning to detox.
The psychological discomfort associated with anxiety during abstinence can be overwhelming, this is why therapeutic change is so important. Rehab offers the opportunity to not only detox but to get really well. By developing emotional regulation skills, interpersonal tools, and other healthy coping mechanisms you can greatly reduce the risk of relapse.
The acute stage of the withdrawal process begins quickly after the last drink and doesn’t really last that long. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the handbook for clinicians, indicates that alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to emerge within 4-12 hours of the last drink. As alcohol is metabolised and cleared from the body symptoms tend to peak around the second day and subside by the fourth or fifth day.
Because many issues factor into the withdrawal process there is not a universal detox timeline that can be applied to everybody, however, there are certain phases of detox that many people detoxing will experience. These definitions will help the consultant to determine the severity of your symptoms and to prescribe medication accordingly.
Detox marks the abrupt ending of alcohol intake and is necessary for the body to cleanse itself of all traces of alcohol. If there are no co-occurring conditions that are impacting the timeline of your detox you may experiences these three phases of detox;
There are various different treatments available for people diagnosed with alcoholism, these include rehab, medication, and therapy.
Experts agree that the most effective way of treating alcohol addiction is residential treatment. Rehab is a specialized, therapeutic environment that offer detox as well as addressing any co-occurring issues as well as the reasons behind the alcohol addiction.
Rehab generally provide a holistic, and integrative approach to alcohol addiction treatment. The recovery programme will usually be built around the core elements of one-to-one counselling and therapeutic group sessions.
Rehab can help you
You should be assessed by a consultant on the day of your admission. This doctor will be able to prescribe you an appropriate medical detox should you need one. Additionally the doctor will assess and treat any other co-occurring issues you may have such as depression, anxiety, and any other physical health issues you may have.
Many people find that detoxing within a community has great therapeutic value, and report it is far easier detoxing in rehab than at home, alone.
Staff in rehabs are often in recovery themselves and are able to provide expert, empathic support for those suffering with alcohol addiction. Alongside your focal counsellor you will create a care plan which will be adapted as you progress through the therapeutic programme on offer at your rehab of choice.
There are medications available to help with alcohol addiction and detox. These treatments are most effective when used in conjunction with other approaches, such as psychotherapy and group therapy. Pharmacological approaches designed to help alcoholics detox or reduce the chances of relapse include:
Additionally the doctor may be able to prescribe you ant-anxiety and anti-depressant medications to support you through the detox process.
If you seek medical help for your alcohol addiction, it’s very likely that at some point your doctor or another health care professional will suggest addictions counselling.
You may receive counselling on an individual basis or in a group setting with peers who have similar issues to you. You may also have the opportunity to have therapy alongside your family members and loved ones, this can help you to build important support networks and heal past hurts on all sides.
Counselling can help you to explore, identify, and challenge negative and unproductive thoughts and beliefs in order to improve your life and lessen the risk of relapse. Therapy can also provide support in overcoming issues behind your addiction such as issues from a difficult childhood or trauma. Therapy also aims to help you to develop skills and tools with which you can deal with life and emotions successfully. Therapy can help you to see that you can overcome your addiction and make positive changes in your life.
Through therapy you will be able to explore your feelings, resolve inner conflicts, gain self-awareness, manage behaviour, increase social skills, reduce anxiety and improve your self-esteem.
The acute stage of the detox process is relatively short. Symptoms will usually begin to present very quickly after the last drink – as quickly as within 4hours. Withdrawal symptoms will then peak around 48-72 hours and tail off entirely at around a week to 10 days.
You may experience some lingering low mood or anxiety for a number of weeks but this will usually resolve by itself, particularly if you are working to develop healthy coping mechanisms in that time.
The disease theory of alcoholism states that problem drinking can be characterised by altered brain structure and function. In 1956, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that alcoholism was an illness. In 1991, the AMA further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.
The disease of alcoholism is characterized by symptoms including an inability to control ones drinking and obsessive compulsive thoughts around alcohol. Alcoholism can also lead to physical addiction, as well as physical consequences such as liver disease.
In a review in 2001, McLellan et al.[i] compared the diagnoses, heritability, etiology (genetic and environmental factors), pathophysiology, and response to treatments of addiction vs type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. The research showed that genetic heritability, personal choice, and environmental factors are comparably involved in the etiology and course of all of these disorders, providing evidence that drug (including alcohol) dependence is a chronic medical illness.