Detox from Alcohol
The first step in treating alcoholism is to remove alcohol from the system, and this is much more involved than merely “sleeping it off.” Dextox is necessary because a person can't participate in the treatment and gain full benefit from the educational opportunity if he/she is in any way under the influence. Recovery starts when the alcohol is out of the system, Detox is generally the first step.
So what does Detox from Alcohol entail?
This can be a tricky process and people should not try to detox without medical assistance. Detox from Alcohol is potentially very dangerous. The body can react violently towards the removal of alcohol, as it craves more.
Detox from Alcohol is designed to remove the symptoms of withdrawal and help the patient through the procedure. While alcoholism detox is a relatively short-term process, it has long-term value for helping alcoholics in recovery. The withdrawal symptoms usual begin between six and 48 hours after heavy drinking. The symptoms will both lessen and increase between 24 and 48 hours.
Part of the medical aspect of detox is the patient receiving a physical examination. This is a good idea because there may be some preexisting medical condition that could be exacerbated during detox. Conditions such as an irregular heartbeat, inadequate heart function, liver disease, alcoholic pancreatitis and digestive bleeding, can all be problematic in detox. It is important for the patient to receive adequate medical care prior to the detox taking place.
Where is Detox from Alcohol done?
Detox can be done in an inpatient or outpatient, but should always be under medical supervision. In their article “Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal”, Hugh Myrick MD and Raymond F. Anton MD, state that before 1980, most alcohol detox was done in a clinical setting, but since then, most treatments are done outpatient. They went on to say that at present, fewer than 20 percent require admission into inpatient status. However, when needed, inpatient is the safest approach to alcoholism detox.
The important factor is the medical oversight of the detox. This is necessary because detox can be very difficult, if not traumatic. Some people might only experience mild side effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as the “shakes.” They may also have a loss of appetite, headaches, sweating and insomnia. They may feel sick to their stomach and feel generally uneasy. But it could be worse and often is.
You’re probably heard of people seeing pink elephants, which is a description of Delirium Tremors, the “DT’s.” About 5% of patients experience these, and they occur usually between two to four days after the patient has stopped drinking. People can have convulsions, or experience autonomic hyperactivity, common to patients with epilepsy. Their eyes roll back and they shake. The withdrawal might also produce a seizure. The risk of seizures is high, as approximately 25% people will experience one during detox if not medically treated. You can see it’s serious business.
May only take a couple of days
Detox may only take a couple of days, but it can take up to two weeks for some patients. Some possible drugs that are used by doctors during detox include selected benzodiazepines, buprenophex and anticonvulsant medications. In outpatient settings, where people have mild symptoms of withdrawal, carbamazepine is an alternative drug to benzodiazepine.
Treatment for Detox from Alcohol is not without its controversy. For mild to moderate symptoms, should any medications be administered? Most agree that when severe withdrawal is the case, medication is absolutely necessary. The debate over medications in the mild to moderate cases continues. In the severe cases, the benzodiazepines (BZs) that are used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures, are used. Research is being done on non-BZ treatments.
It is important to consider the whole person in alcoholism detox. That is why it is important for medical intervention before and during detox. It is the first and certainly one of the most critical steps taken towards recovery.
Read this story below and it will help explain some issues with Detox from Alcohol.
It's been a tough day and many people look forward to pouring a drink, settling down in an easy chair and relaxing. Or as one person put it, "I have a meeting with 'Jack' after work." Whatever the ritual, alcohol and relaxation are paired together, as if relaxation were not possible without alcohol. There is that temporary feeling that all is well, as the troubles of the day melt away. However, for those who abuse alcohol or are alcoholics, the flip side of that relaxing moment is anything but pleasant. Take away the alcohol and life becomes rather difficult.
According to Deborah A. Finn, PH.D. and John C. Crabbe, PH.D., Detox from Alcohol syndrome is characterized by hyperactivity of the nervous system.* People use alcohol as a means of relaxation. It is a central nervous system depressant. Finn and Crabbe explain that the hyperactivity is triggered by the brain's attempt to "function normally despite the inhibitory effect of chronic alcohol consumption."
Simply stated, the brain thinks there's something wrong if alcohol is not present. The of the calming effects of the alcohol turn into opposite reactions. The person can become agitated and anxious, and they crave a drink to feel better. In medical terms, the alcohol-induced cycle neuronal inhibition and excitation is taking place. Once depressed, the central nervous system becomes over activated. You've heard of seeing "pink elephants" when a person is coming down off of alcohol. This is a visual disturbance, and audio disturbances are also common. The person might develop a headache and feel sick, like an extreme hangover.
The severity of these symptoms depend on the individual. For those experiencing Detox from Alcohol, there is often the craving for a drink to rid themselves of the discomfort. A hangover for most people is just a mild form of alcohol withdrawal. For the chronic drinker, the alcoholic, the symptoms can be much more severe.
Detoxification can be uncomfortable, as the hallucinations, or delirium tremors usually occur between 48 and 72 hours after taking the last drink. People can become disoriented. Worse yet, some have experienced heart attacks and grand mal seizures, leading to death in a small percentage of people.
Detox from Alcohol, even for people who are highly motivated, can be a true battle for health and well-being. If a withdrawal is not treated, it could lead to more severe withdrawals in the future.
Therefore, Detox from Alcohol should have a medical component, as management of the symptoms is needed. Withdrawal is the major stumbling block in treatment, because the alcoholic's brain is craving the alcohol to get back to "normal."
It is possible to go through detoxification without the agony of the withdrawal symptoms, as medical treatment is available. Patients can go into treatment without having to suffer the extreme discomfort, or worry about the life-threatening consequences.
Medicines to assist in this process have helped restore normal brain function, and allow people to move to the next step in the treatment process. By easing the detoxification and withdrawal process, the chances for success in treatment are greatly enhanced.
We are body, mind and spirit. The medical has made great strides in treating the body and mind, making successful treatment and recovery more probability than possibility. There is always the possibility, however, of relapse. The spirit needs treatment in recovery. The elimination of pain and discomfort is huge in freeing the spirit.
Detox from Alcohol is often the very first baby step in that process. The key is stop drinking, detox and not to start. MUCH easier said then done but it is possible!
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- Matthew 7:7-8
Step 3 may be the most difficult and important of the steps in the program, what is it and why is it needed, this week on Recovery Now!