Alcohol detox is one of the first steps toward recovery from alcoholism. Because continued, heavy drinking disrupts the brain’s ability to function properly, detoxifying from alcohol will cause withdrawal symptoms. Sustained drinking also causes a body to become dependent on alcohol. How severe alcohol withdrawal is depends on how much your son has been drinking prior to detoxifying. In order for you to help your son as best as you can during his alcohol detox process, you will need to understand the symptoms associated with stopping drinking and how to guide him through his detoxification.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome typically starts six to twelve hours after not having a drink. It starts with minor symptoms such as sweating, mild anxiety, shaking hands, headache, nausea, vomiting and insomnia. In some individuals, more severe symptoms such as visual, tactile and auditory hallucinations may occur. The most severe symptom that occurs in 5% of individuals detoxifying from alcohol is delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can start two to three days after an individuals has stopped drinking. Symptoms of delirium tremens include tremors, agitation, confusion and hallucinations. Some individuals with delirium tremens will also have convulsions. It is important to understand these symptoms so that you can recognize them and help your son seek emergency medical attention as needed.
When your son needs an alcohol detox, seek the advice of a physician first. The physician will help you and your son determine a treatment plan for his detox so that it is a safe process. A common plan of action given by doctors includes a high initial dose of medication followed by gradually reduced doses over the next five to seven days. Because of the unpleasant symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, the alcohol detoxification process involves taking medication to help prevent or minimize the them. Doctors will commonly prescribe chlordiazepoxide. The doctor may also prescribe the vitamin B1, or thiamine, for your son because individuals suffering from alcoholism often lack this key vitamin. Your son will also need to agree to stop drinking for the duration of his detox. The doctor may use a breathalyzer to determine if he is following the plan. Your son may be seen by a doctor or a nurse frequently during the process to ensure that his detox is progressing safely.
If your son has mental or physical health problems, the doctor may refer him to a drug and alcohol detoxification center instead of allowing him to detox at home. Sending your son to a specialist drug and alcohol detoxification center may be his best option if he has little social support, previous failed attempts to stop drinking, previous experiences with severe withdrawal symptoms, or a physical illness that resulted from drinking alcohol.
When your son is undertaking the alcohol detox, you can expect him to feel nervous and anxious for the first few days. He may also have some trouble going to sleep on some nights, and he may still have some mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. During the process, you can support him by helping him pick up his detoxification medication and provide emotional support.
An alcohol detox is a crucial first step towards recovering from alcoholism. Make sure you help your son heal by receiving the advice of a physician that will increase his chances of successfully completely the detox and by providing him with the emotional support he needs to get through this dark and arduous time of his life.