If a person regularly and heavily uses alcohol, he or she has a strong risk of developing an alcohol addiction or dependence. When the addicted person decides to stop drinking or is unable to drink for any reason, he or she will likely begin experiencing detox, often characterized by withdrawal symptoms that are both physical and psychological in nature. These symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. Most of the time, alcohol detox will come and go with no major complications, but in a very small number of cases, medical issues can occur and lead to illness or death. To avoid the risk of a “messy” detox, alcoholics who wish to stop drinking are encouraged to undergo the process in a controlled, medically supervised environment. Choosing a supervised medical detox will help you to ensure that your loved one not only sticks to the detox without relapse but avoids potentially deadly health problems along the way.
When Does Detoxification Start?
If your friend or family member has recently stopped drinking, either purposefully or inadvertently, you may be wondering how long it will take before the detoxification process starts. While every person is different, most individuals will begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms anywhere from five to 10 hours after they stop drinking. Some people don’t experience symptoms for days. Symptoms are usually the most severe between days two and three, though they can continue to occur for several weeks after drinking cessation.
Is Help Needed?
There is no way to tell for certain how severe or how mild a person’s experience with alcohol detoxification will be. There are, however, some factors that often indicate the withdrawal will be more or less severe. If your loved one meets several of the below criteria, severe withdrawal symptoms are likely – all the more reason to plan for a supervised, controlled detox experience:
- Consuming large amounts of alcohol before withdrawal
- Extreme anxiety or the presence of another mental disorder
- Having experienced seizures, delirium, or other serious withdrawal symptoms in the past
- Use of psychoactive drugs
- Poor general health
What Is Alcohol Detox Like?
Alcohol detoxification is different for each person in terms of the specific symptoms experienced, when they begin, how long they last, and how they intense they are in the interim. In general, however, commonly experienced alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Feeling depressed and/or anxious
- Extreme tiredness
- Severe alcohol cravings
- Feelings of restlessness
- An inability to sleep
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle and general body weakness
- Body shaking (can affect part or all of the body)
- Facial tremors
- Feelings of panic and guilt
When a person is detoxing in a safe, medical environment, he or she is usually observed around the clock and given medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and pain. When not in a medical setting, the best thing you can do is be on the lookout for any out of the ordinary symptoms and try to make your loved one as comfortable as possible. Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that may indicate a need for medical attention include:
- Being overly excited or agitated
- Mental confusion
- Running a fever
- Experiencing visual, auditory or tactile hallucinations
Detoxification may be difficult, but it is a wonderful and necessary first step on the road to recovery; however, it is not enough on its own to get addiction under control. Immediately following detoxification, a person must begin psychotherapeutic treatment that directly addresses their alcohol issues, dependency upon other substances, co-occurring mental health problems, and any obstruction to their ability to remain clean and sober. Contact us at Futures today and find out more about our all-inclusive alcohol rehab program.