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What You Need to Know About Detoxing From Alcohol
From neighborhood barbecues, to high-class gatherings, and quite literally everything in between, an alcoholic beverage of some kind is featured. People enjoy these beverages at the end of a long day, with friends and strangers as an ice breaker, and we even fought our own government over their outlawing of the substance. To say that people feel strongly about their alcohol is an understatement to say the least.
The news somewhat regularly seems to feature drunk and disorderly content, violence, driving accidents, and even death due to alcohol abuse in one facet or another. But, like anything in life, when alcohol is taken out of moderation and into the realm of abuse it can not only become a problem for the person abusing the substance, but also for those around them. Once it becomes a regular visitor to a person’s bloodstream in large quantities, problems arise both chemically and behaviorally that can, and inevitably will cause damage. Fortunately, help is available in more ways than one. There are many treatment programs available for anyone looking for a way out of the prison that is addiction. Outpatient, inpatient and residential treatments, meetings and groups that get together weekly, and clinics are all there to help anyone who is willing to ask for it. But regardless of what venue one chooses to get help from, the first step is always Detox.
What is Detoxing?
Detox is the process of getting a substance like alcohol out of a person’s bloodstream and body. It may sound simple enough, and from a distance it certainly looks like it too. All you have to do is not drink anymore right? Yes and no; the stronger the dependence on alcohol, the harder the detox process will be. It is strongly recommended that you seek professional help when looking to extract alcohol from your life. Attempting to detox by yourself is possible, but it is incredibly dangerous. With professional help, there are many ways that those dangers can be quickly offset or maintained.
One way or another, the very first step when detoxing from alcohol is to remove all from your home. Even things like hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol need to go. It may not seem like it at the time, but desperation has driven people to do some crazy things to get a fix, including drinking hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. So it’s best not to leave any room for temptation, especially during those desperate times.
If you are going to a professional clinic for your detox, you will be assisted by people who are able to monitor and aid your symptoms as they come. According to the National Library of Medicine, “alcohol withdrawal usually occurs within 8 hours after the last drink, but it can occur days later.” These symptoms are to be expected during the detox process, and they range depending on the severity of the alcoholism. The detox process itself tends to take between 7 to 10 days, though the rehabilitation programs themselves are at least a month long.
Common Symptoms of Alcohol Detox
These symptoms can be as simple as insomnia, headaches, and a loss of appetite, or they can be more severe, ranging from hallucinations, to seizures, heart palpitations, and excessive perspiration. If one’s alcohol dependency is exceptionally strong, the patient may experience a symptom called Delirium Tremens, or DT.
DT is a conjunction of symptoms all rolled into one package, bombarding both body and senses; this is one of the worst experiences one can feel, and needs to be managed by professionals if one begins to experience it. These symptoms can vary, but mostly include severe hallucinations, heavily excessive perspiration, abnormal heart rate, a spike in blood pressure, fever, and extreme agitation. These symptoms come all at once and if not treated properly and promptly, can be fatal.
Apart from the harrowing withdrawal symptoms, it is also common to experience anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, and even have a negative mood while detoxing from alcohol. These symptoms are often what drive people into withdrawal, but it is important to finish the process strong as long-term alcoholism can cause severely problematic health issues down the road. This is why it is highly recommended to detox inside of a detox facility, surrounded by medical professionals. Not only will they be able to help you detox safely, they can help prevent immediate relapse as a result of the discomfort that goes hand in hand with said symptoms.
Medical Detox-Why it’s a Good Idea
Detoxing by yourself comes with a wide range of risks if you don’t fully know what you’re doing, what to expect, or how to handle the potentially dangerous symptoms as they arise. Your home doesn’t have access to the medicine that can be utilized in preventing these symptoms from becoming fatal.
The most common medicine used in managing alcohol withdrawals is Diazepam, commonly referred to as Valium. Valium falls under the category of Benzodiazepines, or benzos. These specifically are used to reduce psychological symptoms, such as anxiety or hallucinations. Valium is described as an anxiolytic and sedative, meaning it can also treat seizures and even help the patient get some much-needed rest. This medicine can have its own dangers, however, so it is best left up to the professionals to properly dose and deliver it.
Vitamins are sometimes used to help treat alcohol withdrawal. Thiamine, also known as Vitamin B-1, can help to promote and rebuild normal body function and development. So while the body is thirsting for that which it believes itself dependent on, the proper use of Vitamins can help convince it that it can function normally without the use of alcohol.
It is crucial that detoxing from alcohol be taken seriously. Your body believes that alcohol is necessary to survival and is going to lash out in a seemingly violent way to get what it wants. When this happens, relapse is common because it seems like it will be easier to just give in. Moments like this only make the dependency stronger, however, and ultimately make the process more difficult. A detox facility will not only know how to help your body in these circumstances, they know how to help you live a healthier, stronger life.