Drug & Alcohol Detox Services
Alcohol abuse and addiction are more common in the U.S. than most people think. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), roughly 14.5 million people 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.
Drinking excessively can cause harm in your personal life and relationships and physical harm to your body over time. Treatment for alcohol addiction and abuse includes detox programs, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment.
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Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal
Different people may experience alcohol detox, also known as withdrawal, in various ways. Someone may experience all or some of the withdrawal symptoms, depending on how much alcohol they consume over time.
The more alcohol someone consumes over a short period of time, the more intense their dependence on the substance will become if they continue that behavior.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition that encompasses a set of symptoms someone experiences after constantly drinking and then suddenly stopping. The more regularly you drink the more severe the symptoms.
The severity of the symptoms experienced often reflects the intensity of the physical dependence on alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal occurs most often in adults but children and adolescents can also experience it.
It’s also possible to have more severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome with certain other medical problems such as liver or kidney issues.
Symptoms of Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal
Acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- anxiety and nervousness
- jumpiness and shakiness
- mood swings
- not able to think clearly
Moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- excessive sweating
- clammy hands and skin
- enlarged (dilated) pupils
- headaches & body aches
- nausea and vomiting
- loss of appetite
- rapid heart rate
- tremors in the hands or other body parts
Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms (a.k.a. delirium tremens) include:
- severe confusion
In cases of moderate to severe alcohol detox it is not safe to recover alone. If you or a loved one are experiencing moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms an alcohol detox program can help keep you safe during this process.
Alcohol Detox Timeline
There is no one way to detox. Everyone will have their own unique experiences when they stop drinking. In general, the alcohol detox timeline can be broken into three identifiable stages:
Stage One: Acute Symptoms
Acute withdrawal symptoms typically occur around eight to 10 hours after the last alcohol drink was consumed. At this time the individual will begin to feel changes in their body from the lack of alcohol.
Acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms often include insomnia, heart palpitations, irritability, and moodiness
Stage Two: Body Goes into Shock
About one to three days after stopping alcohol consumption completely, more serious medical concerns can arise. During this stage of alcohol detox the body can begin to go into shock from the lack of alcohol in its systems.
Issues from increased blood pressure and heart rate to more extreme moods can occur.
Stage Three: Severe Physical Symptoms Manifest
The final phase of alcohol detox happens three days to a week after stopping alcohol consumption and can last for several weeks. During this phase is when the most severe symptoms occur including seizures, wet brain, and high levels of confusion.
Without proper treatment, these symptoms have the potential to become life threatening or permanent.
Three Stages of Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction doesn’t occur overnight but over time. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2020, 50 percent of people 12 and older used alcohol in the past month.
Of the 138.5 million people currently consuming alcohol, 61.6 million (44.4 percent) were classified as binge drinkers, 17.7 million (28.8 percent) were classified as heavy drinkers.
Alcohol abuse or heavy drinking gradually becomes binge drinking or an alcohol use disorder when someone consumes more alcohol overtime due to the increased tolerance to it in their body. This is why alcohol addiction can be broken into three stages.
Stage One: Early Alcohol Abuse
It’s hard to tell if someone has a problem at this stage for many reasons. At this time, the person may not be experiencing many outward symptoms that are contributed to alcohol abuse.
Many of the telltale signs of alcohol abuse during this stage relate to someone’s social life. During this time is when tolerance to alcohol is being developed so it can be hard to tell if the way someone’s acting is related to their drinking or not.
Look for subtle signs like missing work, school, or other obligations. And pay attention to their drinking behaviors. Notice if they are drinking more in one sitting than they have in the past or if they are drinking more often in general.
Stage Two: Alcohol Dependence Forms
During stage two, more social problems and alcohol drinking patterns are bound to happen. A person may exhibit symptoms such as blackouts, vomiting, and extreme hangovers. They will have established a dependence on alcohol that causes cravings for more alcohol or withdrawal symptoms when not drinking or attempting to stop.
Emotional issues may start showing more consistently. At this time, a person may begin to realize they have an issue and start to hide their drinking from friends and family.
Stage Three: Fully Realized Alcohol Addiction
The final stage of alcohol abuse is often what people think of when imagining what alcoholism looks like. If someone does not receive help at this stage it is likely they never will.
During stage three the person’s outward appearance, hygiene, and general health will noticeably decline. They will often lose their jobs, friendships, and families. In most cases, they will isolate themselves and jump from job to job often to make enough money to continue drinking.
Serious physical issues may appear such as cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, hepatitis, and respiratory issues.
If you or someone you love is in this stage of alcohol abuse, it’s time to reach out for help. Safely detoxing from alcohol is important and can rarely be done alone at this stage. When the body has become physically dependent on alcohol, stopping drinking can cause serious, even potentially fatal issues.
Alcohol Detoxification Programs
Detoxing alone can potentially be dangerous and increase the risk of relapse. Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be so painful, it’s common for people who stop drinking on their own to start drinking again to relieve their pain, both mental and physical.
This is why an alcohol detox program is highly recommended for anyone going through the detox process. Detoxing is an important step in the recovery process. Most addiction treatment centers offering alcohol detox also provide inpatient or outpatient treatments which can, and should, follow the initial detox process.
Typically an alcohol detox program will take 28 to 30 days and consist of medical monitoring and symptom management. Some detox programs will also suggest medications for certain alcohol detox symptoms.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Medications
There are a number of medications your healthcare team may recommend to treat alcohol misuse. The most common alcohol addiction treatment medications include:
- acamprosate (Campral). Most commonly used to prevent relapse in people who have been successfully abstinent from alcohol. And is commonly paired with counseling to reduce alcohol cravings.
- disulfiram (Antabuse). This medication works to help prevent relapse by triggering unpleasant physical reactions if alcohol is consumed. Use caution with alcohol based products like aftershave or perfume as these too can cause bad reactions.
- Naltrexone. Used to prevent a relapse or limit the amount of alcohol someone drinks. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the body, which can help prevent you from feeling the effect of alcohol.
- nalmefene (Selincro). Can be used to prevent relapse or limit the amount of alcohol someone drinks. This medication works in a similar fashion to Naltrexone by blocking opioid receptors. Nalmefene should only be taken if you’re receiving support to help reduce your alcohol intake and continue treatment.
Important Alcohol Detox Questions
While choosing a medical detox program it’s important to consider the following questions:
1. Are you abusing another substance in addition to alcohol?
It is common to abuse a second or third substance in addition to alcohol. If you or your loved one has co-occurring substance use disorders it’s important to choose a detox center that has experience handling this situation.
2. Do you experience a co-occuring mental health disorder?
Nearly half of all people with a substance use disorder also suffer from a mental health disorder. If you suspect that you or your loved one also have a mental health disorder such as depression, general anxiety, or bipolar disorder, it is vital to enroll in a program that can also address these issues.
3. How severe is the alcohol abuse/dependence/addiction?
There is a lot of resistance to following alcohol detox with an inpatient program. However, depending on the severity of the alcohol abuse, inpatient treatment can be vital to a more lasting recovery.
4. Is there insurance coverage for treatment?
Substance abuse treatment programs fall under the mental health category when insurance is involved. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) most individual and small group health insurance plans are mandated to provide some mental health coverage. But not all addiction treatment centers accept insurance. If you or your loved one has health insurance, it is best to start with seeing which treatment centers will accept your insurance plan.
Find Help Today
Suffering with alcohol abuse can be really difficult, especially if you try to do it alone. You can find help for yourself or a loved one today by contacting Desert Rose Detox Center at (844) 427-3509 or requesting information online.
Trusted Addiction Treatment
At Desert Rose, drug and alcohol detox is only the beginning. We offer a complete addiction treatment program here. Unlike most Florida rehabs, we feature all 5 primary ASAM levels of care you need within a single program.
Desert Rose Detox has earned Joint Commission Accreditation. We also enjoy membership in NAATP, state licensing and are associated with certified recovery residences (FARR).
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