The results of alcohol abuse are usually not apparent until there is a serious issue that has affected other parts of the user’s life. If you find that you or a loved one has chosen to address an alcohol addiction, there are some things that one should prepare for during an alcohol detox.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2011 there were over 16,000 deaths linked to alcoholic liver disease and over 26,000 alcohol-induced deaths – excluding accidents and homicides. Alcohol abuse is a huge issue in America and all over the world. Though seemingly innocent, alcohol can be just as dangerous as drugs that are more socially considered more dangerous such as heroin or crack cocaine. Recreational use can fast become an addiction, and often times is justified as just a college phase, or chalked up to the idea that, “boys will be boys.”
3 Things You Need To Know About Alcohol Detox
1. Withdrawals are not all made equal. The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the amount and how long the user has been abusing alcohol. If the user is a mild drinker, withdrawal symptoms will be much more manageable than if they have been abusing alcohol for many years. That being said, because alcohol detox can be very dangerous, it is recommended that all individuals should consult with a physician before undergoing a detox to ensure proper care.
2. You may be treated in an outpatient or inpatient basis depending on the severity of your withdrawals. If your alcohol abuse has been very mild, you are in a good health condition and you have a strong support system at home, outpatient services may be good for you. But if you are pregnant, have other health or mental health issues, do not have appropriate support at home or have had a more prolonged abuse of alcohol, inpatient services are preferred. Inpatient services are focused on:
- helping your body through the physical side effects of withdrawal
- preventing or mediating complications
- teaching skills and lending support for life long alcohol abstinence
3. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may last from a few hours to a year and go through certain stages. A mild drinker will almost never experience all of the stages, but for other that do, they can be very dangerous without proper medical attention. The stages are as follows:
- Tremulousness: This stage begins 6-12 hours after not drinking and is finished after one day. This stage is marked with “the shakes” that often include night sweats, anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.
- Seizures: This stage may begin 6-48 hours after not having a drink. Though over 90% of seizures happen within the first 48 hours, some can happen over a few weeks at different intervals
- Hallucinations: This stage occurs as the same time as seizures. Hallucinations usually consist of what patients describe as bugs crawling all over their body.
- Delirium Tremens: The most dangerous stage begins 72-10 days after your last drink and can last from seven to ten days. This stage is marked with strokes, heart attacks, confusion, auditory and visual hallucinations and perception that something or someone is threatening, and high blood pressure/heart rate.
- Protracted Withdrawal: This stage can last for up to a year after drinking and involves shakiness, depression, hallucinations, poor memory and lack of concentration.
Despite the severity of alcohol withdrawal, helping your body rid itself of its dependency will only help you and the ones around you.