Alcohol withdrawal and detox

Anyone who has ever worked in a pub knows what it is like to wring out the bar towels at the end of the night. The amount of alcohol those towels soak up is incredible and our bodies are exactly the same when we are in the grip of alcohol addiction. Alcohol detox enables you to break your physical dependence on alcohol so you can move on to the next stages of recovery with a clean slate and a clear mind. Detox can be a daunting process and can potentially be very dangerous but Banbury Lodge has safely guided hundreds of people through the alcohol detox process and we are here to help you too.

Alcohol detox

What is alcohol detox?

Alcohol detox is the process of removing alcohol from the body, allowing it to return to its normal functioning and begin to repair the damage done by excessive, long-term drinking. While detoxing from alcohol can be a challenging process, it’s an essential step on the road to recovery and creates solid foundations on which to build a sober life.

Some of the benefits of detox at a professional alcohol detox clinic like Banbury Lodge include:

  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Reduced risk of alcohol withdrawal complications
  • Improved chance of long-term recovery

Why does alcohol withdrawal occur?

Alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain adapts to the presence of alcohol and requires increasing amounts to produce the same effect, a state known as tolerance. As you then drink more and more to get the desired feeling, you end up becoming physically dependent on alcohol and need to drink just to function normally.

Detoxing from alcohol can be difficult because when you try to stop drinking, the brain needs time to adjust to the absence of alcohol resulting in alcohol withdrawal symptoms. During this adjustment period, there are only two ways to get relief from alcohol withdrawal symptoms: start drinking again or persevere through alcohol detox.

What are the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary widely depending on the severity of your dependence, the duration of alcohol use, and other individual factors. Some common alcohol detox symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Alcohol withdrawal timeline

The alcohol withdrawal timeline can also vary depending on age, gender, overall health and the length and severity of the addiction but here is a general timeline of what to expect when you detox from alcohol:

Day one

The first signs of alcohol withdrawal typically appear within 6-12 hours after the last drink. At this point, you may experience mild hangover-like symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, tremors and headaches.

Days two to three

Within the first 48-72 hours, most people will experience a peak in the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting and confusion.

Week one onwards

After the first few days of detox, alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically begin to subside. However, some people may experience more persistent alcohol detox symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia that can last for weeks or even months after detox. That’s why it’s important to seek medical supervision and support during the detox process to ensure your safety and comfort and to put a longer-term plan in place if necessary.

What is Delirium Tremens?

Delirium tremens (DTs) is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can be life-threatening if not properly treated. DTs typically occur in individuals who have been heavy drinkers for a long time, and symptoms usually appear 48-72 hours after the last drink. Symptoms of DTs include confusion, fever, seizures, and hallucinations and so professional medical support and guidance are needed to manage them.

Alcohol detox at Banbury Lodge

While detoxing from alcohol at home may be tempting, it’s important to note that this can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Without proper medical supervision, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can quickly escalate, leading to relapse, seizures, DTs and other complications.

If you’re seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, Banbury Lodge can provide a safe and supportive environment for detox and recovery. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the detox process at Banbury Lodge:

  • Medical Assessment: Before beginning alcohol detox, you’ll undergo a thorough medical assessment to ensure that you’re medically stable and that alcohol detox is safe for you. Our medical team will assess your physical health, mental health and substance use history to create a personalised detox plan that’s tailored to your needs.
  • Detoxification: The alcohol detox process at Banbury Lodge is medically supervised, meaning that you’ll have around-the-clock medical support and monitoring throughout the process. Medications may be prescribed to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms and ensure your comfort and our doctors will ensure that you are kept safe in the event of DTs.
  • Alcohol rehab: Alongside alcohol detox, you will also undergo a comprehensive counselling and therapy programme to address the underlying issues that contribute to your alcohol use and to learn new sober-living strategies.

Top tips for alcohol detox

Undergoing alcohol detox is a big step into the unknown and so it can be a scary prospect. However, the reality of alcohol detox is rarely as frightening as you might imagine it to be. To help put you at ease and give you the best chance of success, here are some top tips for alcohol detox:

Discuss potential alcohol withdrawal symptoms with your doctors
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can be serious so it is important to discuss any potential symptoms with your medical team before starting the alcohol detox process. They can help you understand what to expect during the process and can provide you with tips and strategies for managing any withdrawal symptoms that may arise.
Discuss any necessary alcohol detox medication
Depending on your individual needs, your medical team may prescribe alcohol detox medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms or to reduce cravings. It’s important to discuss this in full with your team and follow their instructions to the letter as misusing or abusing medication can be dangerous and can compromise the success of your detox.
Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated
During alcohol detox, it is important to fuel your body with healthy food and to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This can help reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and improve your overall well-being.
Get plenty of rest
Your body needs rest during the alcohol detox process to recover and heal. Try to get plenty of sleep each night and take time to rest and relax throughout the day, avoiding strenuous activities that can cause exhaustion or stress.

Alcohol detox - woman getting rest

Seek support from loved ones

The alcohol detox process can be emotionally and physically challenging so support from loved ones can be crucial. Consider enlisting the help of family and friends to provide emotional support, help take care of your home duties while you are at the alcohol detox clinic or simply spend time with you during this difficult time.

Trust the process

Your medical team has your best interests in mind and can provide you with the support, resources and guidance you need to successfully complete the alcohol detox process. It is important to follow their advice and instructions closely to ensure your safety and comfort during this time and to give yourself the best chance of success.

By following these tips, you can help ensure a smoother and more successful alcohol detox process.

How to help a loved one going through alcohol detox

If you have a friend or family member who is going through alcohol detox, you can make all the difference in their chances of long-term success. Here is some practical and effective advice for helping a loved one who is detoxing from alcohol:

Visit and contact them during their stay in alcohol detox

This can provide valuable emotional support and give them the strength they need during difficult moments in the alcohol detox process. Make an effort to call or text them regularly to let them know you’re thinking of them and offer words of encouragement.

Help take care of their responsibilities

Detoxing from alcohol can be a time-consuming process, and your loved one may need help with daily responsibilities such as caring for their children or managing work obligations. Offer to assist with these tasks to help alleviate their stress and ensure they can focus on their recovery.

Prepare their home for their return

Returning home after alcohol detox can be overwhelming, especially if your loved one is returning to a stressful or chaotic environment. Help them prepare for their return by cleaning and organising their home, stocking up on healthy food, removing any alcohol and making any necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth transition.

Offer ongoing support

Recovery is an ongoing process, and your loved one will need ongoing support to maintain their sobriety. Offer to accompany them to AA meetings or other support groups, or simply be available to listen and offer support when they need it.

Alcohol detox - caring for family member

How to get started with alcohol detox

At Banbury Lodge, we’re committed to helping you overcome alcohol dependency and achieve lasting recovery. Get in touch with us today to find out more about how our individualised alcohol detox programmes can help you get started on your journey to lifelong sobriety.

Frequently asked questions

Can alcohol withdrawal be fatal?
Yes, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal in some cases, especially in those who have been heavy drinkers for an extended period. The risk of mortality from alcohol withdrawal is highest in those who have a history of seizures, have experienced DTs in the past or have other underlying health conditions. It’s essential to seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures, hallucinations or confusion.
How long does alcohol detoxification take?
The duration of alcohol detox can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of alcohol use, your overall health, and any underlying medical or psychiatric conditions. Generally, alcohol detoxification can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on your individual needs. This is why undergoing an individualised detox plan at a professional alcohol detox clinic is always the best option.
How do you know if you need alcohol detox?
You may need alcohol detox if you experience symptoms of alcohol dependence or addiction, such as needing to drink more to achieve the same effect (tolerance), experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking (such as tremors, sweating, anxiety), or having difficulty controlling or cutting down on your drinking despite wanting to.
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