An alcohol detox certainly is uncomfortable. In fact, a detox from alcohol can even be life-threatening, which is why you need the guidance and support of a professional staff like you find at Pain Physicians NY who have experience in how to detox from alcohol safely. Detoxing from alcohol is just the first step in your total treatment plan. Rely on your doctors to help you with the right level of medications so that you can successfully beat your addiction.
When you drink alcohol regularly, your body develops a dependence on the substance. And when you decide to stop drinking suddenly, your body struggles to adapt without the alcohol it’s become dependent on. You may begin to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that even can be deadly.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a life-threatening health issue that requires the help of professionals at an addiction treatment center. Whether you’ve only been drinking for a short time or for many years, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can happen to you. And experts agree that it’s better to be under the care of a medical doctor at an outpatient rehab facility than trying to detox on your own.
The Beginning Stages of Alcohol Detox
When you wonder how to detox from alcohol, understand that it can be dangerous to try to stop drinking on your own. Round-the-clock supervision may be necessary because the sudden onset of withdrawal symptoms can cause problems you don’t have the expertise to deal with. You need medical supervision when detoxing from alcohol because of the potentially lethal side effects that happen. These side effects include:
- Delirium tremens (DTs), the rapid onset of an altered mental state that can cause cardiovascular collapse
- Heart attack
- Lethal dehydration
While choosing to detox from alcohol is the right decision, it may seem like a mistake for a long while. The conditions you put yourself through when detoxing from alcohol can be painful and traumatic. Common withdrawal symptoms you should be prepared to face include:
- Appetite loss
- Feeling jumpy
- Mood swings
- Muscle spasms
- Rapid heart rate
The Difficult Road to Recovery
After facing the difficult decision of admitting the need to detox from alcohol, the real work begins. After you’re admitted into an addiction treatment center, the withdrawal symptoms typically intensify. When you’re under proper care, you won’t hurt yourself and you’ll get the attention you need.
There are, however, benchmarks you can expect, such as:
- First six to 12 hours. As the mild effects of detoxing from alcohol begin to wear off, this is the point when the more severe symptoms like anxiety, headaches, irritability, shaking and nausea begin.
- Day one. As more time passes, the more intense withdrawal symptoms appear. These include hand tremors, disorientation and in some cases, seizures.
- Day two. Hallucinations, panic attacks and other painful symptoms reveal themselves while the alcohol is leaving your body’s system.
- Day three to one week. During this time, a variety of withdrawal symptoms may present themselves.
- One week and beyond. By this point, the symptoms you’ve experienced should be subsiding. While the more severe symptoms are minor, some people have post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The symptoms of this can include loss of sleep, anxiety, limited reflexes and low energy.
Medications Used During Alcohol Detox
While symptoms vary from person to person, they occur in everyone trying to break their alcohol addiction to some degree. Symptoms can be either mild or severe during the withdrawal phase. Four medications commonly used to help balance your body’s chemicals as they adjust to going without alcohol include:
- Acamprosate. Also known as Campral, this prescription drug helps your brain function as it should after you stop drinking. Drinking heavily for several years has negative impacts on how your brain looks and functions. This drug also reduces your cravings for alcohol.
- This drug is more commonly used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. During this time, your central nervous system is under great stress and this medication calms it down. Benzodiazepine treats anxiety, insomnia and muscle spasms and can be taken in either short-acting or long-acting doses. The long-acting doses are taken over three days.
- Disulfiram. Disulfiram is a medication that produces an adverse reaction in your body should you consume alcohol. Some of the effects that can happen if you drink while taking it are headache, nausea, weakness and low blood pressure. Disulfiram does not restore brain functions or reduce your alcohol cravings; it’s meant to keep you from drinking so you can successfully begin alcohol treatment.
- Naltrexone. Vivitrol is the brand name for this drug that reduces alcohol cravings when you’re detoxing. Should you drink while detoxing, Vivitrol limits the good feeling it normally provides. This medication comes in either tablet or injectable form.