Alcohol Detoxification Guide

March 20, 2023

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the United States according to the 2021 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). It is a type of substance abuse where medical detox is strongly recommended. This recommendation stems from the possibility of life threatening withdrawal symptoms for people with severe alcohol addiction. Thankfully, modern medical detox combines patient safety with treatments to reduce the discomfort  accompanying detoxification. 

This guide will quickly educate you on:

  • The medical detox process
  • The safety efforts specific to alcohol detox
  • Decreasing withdrawal discomfort & increasing detox completion

Alcohol detox managed by medical professionals should not be avoided because of worries over withdrawal. Modern medicine has a variety of effective treatments for withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, untreated alcoholism brings serious health risks such as fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and alcohol poisoning. To avoid these illnesses, detox should be pursued in collaboration with a medical facility qualified in addiction treatment.

Can Alcoholism Be Treated Successfully?

Yes. Countless people have successfully recovered from alcoholism and lead lives no longer burdened by this addiction. A vital predictor of success is the desire to end alcohol dependency and a willingness to make lifestyle changes. Another important factor in recovery is support from knowledgeable professionals. Our treatment center is run by licensed doctors who have years of experience in the treatment of alcoholism. They not only treat patients wishing to be freed from substance abuse but also keep up on the latest clinical research on addiction treatment.

The Detox Process: What to Expect

Alcohol detoxification, put simply, is the removal of alcohol from your body. The process begins by calling our facility to schedule an admission. A staff member will gather information regarding your current alcohol usage and review your health insurance coverage as it relates to treatment. The staff member should also be able to answer your questions about the use of funds from a Heath Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) if that applies to your situation. Once the necessary pre-admissions information is collected, you and the staff will discuss how quickly you can began treatment. 

When entering the facility for treatment, it is advised that you bring a week’s worth of clothing as well as personal hygiene products (e.g. toothbrush, hairbrush, shampoo, feminine sanitary products, etc.). These items are needed because you will be in the facility 24 hours a day during our inpatient treatment. There are items we prohibit patients from bringing to our facility such as weapons, drugs, and alcohol. If you have any special dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, kosher, diabetic, etc.), you can discuss them with our staff prior to your arrival.

What to Bring to Treatment

A physical exam is performed prior to treatment so that staff can document your current health condition and identify issues that will have a bearing on the detox process. This exam will also ask questions regarding your physical and mental health history. For example, the frequency and quantity of your drinking will be discussed. The actual detoxification process begins after the physical exam. If for some reason detox cannot begin immediately, a doctor will explain the rationale for the delay and when detox may begin. 

Withdrawal symptoms may begin within 12 hours (or less) of your last drink. Staff will monitor your situation and offer different forms of care depending on the symptom. The goal of the staff is to prioritize your health concerns while minimizing your discomfort as well as your craving for alcohol.

How Long Does It Last?

The length of alcohol detox is specific to an individual’s addiction severity and health condition. The treatment may last as little as two days. An especially long treatment could exceed 9 days. The important aspect of this treatment is to get the patient past the stage of most pronounced withdrawal symptoms and prepare him or her for the next stage in recovery (counseling, AA meetings, etc.).

Keeping You Safe During Detoxification

The greatest advantage of a medical detox is the monitoring of your treatment by medical professionals. Not only can they provide prescription medications to address various withdrawal issues, they can also provide appropriate care should an unexpected health problem emerge. For example, diarrhea or vomiting could occur and lead to extreme dehydration so the facility is equipped to supply fluids through IV if that is medically necessary.

Lessening Withdrawal Symptoms

The staff at our facility want our patients to successfully complete detoxification. Consequently, we have a variety of measures to treat withdrawal symptoms and reduce your discomfort while abstaining from alcohol. For example, the medication acamprosate may be provided to reduce cravings for alcohol. We believe the better withdrawal issues are managed, the better your prospects for completing detox.

Headaches and muscle aches may be treated with traditional analgesics. A benzodiazepine medication may be used if we believed you are at risk for seizures during this initial alcohol abstinence period. After detox, other medications may be prescribed in order to reduce the urge to drink. Likewise, after discharge a medication like Disulfiram may be prescribed to discourage relapse by making the experience of alcohol consumption unpleasant. This medication interferes with an enzyme used in the metabolization of alcohol.

Start your road to recovery today.

Take the first step on the road to recovery and contact us to get the help you need.

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