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Detoxing from Alcohol


Detoxing – What you need to know

Are you struggling with alcohol addiction? If your drinking has gotten to the point where you feel like you aren’t able to control it, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 18 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder. It’s one of the most commonly abused substances in our society, but chances are you didn’t start drinking with the intention of it becoming a dependency.

If you’re coming to the realization that your drinking is out of hand, that’s the first step in recovery. Recognizing your dependency will allow you to see the need for change and find the motivation from within for that change. The next step, however, is removing that dependency entirely. This is what people often refer to as detox.

Why Detox is Crucial

For anyone to work toward sobriety successfully, the body needs a fresh start—a clean slate. The detoxification process is the time period between your last drink and when the body is completely free of the remaining alcohol that has been flowing through your system. With the effects of alcohol no longer in the system, those working toward sobriety are able to think and act in ways that aren’t influenced by a substance.

Most people who begin a detox program do so with supervision (we’ll explain in the importance of medically supervised detox later). However, supervision is an important element in this process not only for safety, but also for emotional support and accountability. Starting out on the journey to sobriety with a support system sets you up for success.

What You Need to Know

While detox is not an easy step, knowing what to expect about the process can make the tough times easier to navigate both for the patient in rehab as well as their friends and loved ones who are supporting them in their recovery efforts. We’ve compiled a few of the most important points to know about detox so you or your loved one can start the process informed and confident about what may come your way.

Detox Takes 7-10 days

Every patient’s experience is different with detox, and the number of days required for successful detox is different, too. This can depend on a number of things such as:

  • The patient’s current size and weight
  • How long they’ve been drinking
  • How heavily they’ve been drinking
  • If their drinking has been mixed with drugs or other substances

In some extreme cases of extended, heavy drinking, a full detox can take up to 14 days, while other mild cases may take fewer than 7 days.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms are Likely (and Can Be Severe)

Most patients who enter into a detox program will experience withdrawal symptoms, but the severity of those symptoms will depend on the extent of their consumption disorder and how dependent their body already is on alcohol.

The National Medical Library has classified withdrawal symptoms into different stages that are most common with those in a detox program. These include:

Stage 1

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or shakes
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain

Stage 2

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Elevated body temperature and/or blood pressure

Stage 3

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Excessive agitation

In the most serious cases of withdrawal, patients may experience a condition called delirium tremens (DT). This is a sudden and severe problem in the brain and nervous system, often referred to as “the shakes.” DT is most likely to occur with patients who quickly stop drinking after years of heavy, habitual drinking.

Professional Supervision is the Best Choice

There’s no way to predict how severe a patient’s withdrawal symptoms may be during detox, which is why participating in a medically supervised detox program is always the best, and safest, choice. Medical professionals are able to monitor vitals and look out for common signs and symptoms of severe withdrawal. In many instances, a supervised detox program also provides psychological support as well for patients as they take their first steps toward sobriety.

Detox is Only the Beginning of Recovery

Once a patient completes the detox journey and their body is free from the physiological effects of alcohol, they are able to continue on their journey to recovery with a clean slate. However, patients are also at their highest risk of relapse immediately after detox, which is why ongoing treatment and supportive therapy is crucial to maintain sobriety. At New Choices, we offer that and more. Our mission is to provide comfortable and comprehensive treatment options that empower individuals to rise above their addiction. Contact us to learn more today.