Learn how detoxification is the first step on the path to full recovery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol use disorder, knowing where to begin can be difficult. Many times people wonder, why can’t they simply cut back or stop their drinking? Why do they continue this destructive behavior? The fact is that alcohol use disorder is a disease which makes it nearly impossible for affected individuals to stop drinking without help. Medically supervised alcohol detox is an important first step. When an individual stops drinking, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, withdrawal sets in. Alcohol detox is painful and potentially dangerous, and it is best managed by professional staff members who will help you overcome what seems impossible.
What is Alcohol Detoxification?
Alcohol, while being legal to consume, is one of the most dangerous substances when it comes to detoxification. If this important first step is not done correctly and under medical supervision, the consequences can be fatal. Coping with alcohol detox can be both physically and psychologically difficult, both for the individual and those providing support. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone.
Detoxing the body of harmful substances can be very challenging and clients may find it difficult to cope. Symptoms of detox can include:
- Profuse sweating
- Extreme anxiety
- Muscle weakness
- Severe alcohol cravings.
Medication and skilled care can be essential for a comfortable and successful detox experience. Futures of Palm Beach has trained professionals to guide you or your loved one through this difficult time. Helping our clients find effective ways of coping with detox and withdrawal so that they can get to the next phase of recovery is very important to us.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)
When an individual consumes alcohol excessively, it wreaks havoc on the nervous system. When that individual stops drinking suddenly, their body takes time to figure out what chemicals are missing, and this could trigger complications. This adjustment period can last from approximately six hours to a few days and can cause a number of symptoms that happen in three stages:
- Stage 1 – Mild: Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain characterize this stage.
- Stage 2 – Moderate: High blood pressure, sweating, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and confusion accompany this stage.
- Stage 3 – Delerium Tremens: Disorientation, impaired attention, and visual and/or auditory hallucinations come with this stage. This is the most dangerous time of the withdrawal process, during which medical monitoring is essential.
Delirium tremens (DT) is a more severe reaction which occurs in approximately one out of twenty people experiencing alcohol withdrawal. This usually occurs 2-3 days after the last drink, and include severe tremors, agitation, auditory and visual hallucinations and convulsions.
Who is at risk for AWS?
Alcohol withdrawal affects individuals who have become physically dependent on alcohol. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking as consumption of more than eight drinks per week for women and more than fifteen drinks per week for men. Binge drinking is the most common form of heavy drinking. This consists of four or more drinks per episode for women and five or more for men. According to the CDC, binge drinking is most common among adults 18-34 years of age and makes up more than 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21.
The following are the equivalent of one drink:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, liquor, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey
Goals of Detoxification
Detoxification is the important first step in the treatment and recovery process. The most important goal in alcohol detox is safety. Detoxification should never be attempted at home or in a non-medical environment. The term “detoxification” in this context is not the same as a juice cleanse or other dietary detoxification. During withdrawal, the individual may possibly experience hallucinations, convulsions and even seizures that may cause death. Professional detoxification may involve the use of prescription medications which aid in the comfort and stabilization of the patient, and this must be done by a specialist.
The goals of detoxification are to allow the patient to become alcohol-free in a safe, humane environment that protects both wellness and dignity. A safe and comfortable detoxification prepares the patient for ongoing treatment of substance use disorder. After a successfully monitored detox, the patient is now fully prepared for the next step in the treatment process.
The importance of quality, professional inpatient treatment cannot be overemphasized. Detoxification alone is insufficient to resolve an individual’s issues with alcohol. Just as it takes time to develop a substance use disorder, it takes significant time and effort to overcome one. Proper, ongoing treatment is essential to recovery. Futures of Palm Beach offers inpatient and outpatient treatment options to ensure an individual’s maximum benefit from the continuum of care.
The first step in inpatient treatment is an intense bio-psycho-social assessment. This allows us to understand and begin to identify all of the underlying issues that may accompany an individual’s substance use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that approximately 60% of all individuals with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. This assessment will also help us to understand the individual’s family, personal preferences, and cultural considerations so that we may provide truly individualized care with a treatment plan specific to the patient’s unique needs.
We know recovering from a substance use disorder isn’t easy.
It has been said that people in recovery are among the most courageous, resilient people in the world. We recognize that substance use disorder can be the challenge of a lifetime, and detoxification is one of the most frightening parts. We acknowledge this strength in our clients and we can help you or a loved one make it through to the other side too. Our treatment options can help to preserve the gains that made in alcohol detox, and support a smooth transition into early, and then long-term, recovery. The work is hard but the rewards are great. Let Futures of Palm Beach help you or a loved one get started today.
Contact us for more information. Most major insurances are accepted.