To end an addiction to alcohol, you will have to go through withdrawal. Sadly, many individuals are so worried about what alcohol withdrawal will be like that they choose to not get sober at all. Having a better understanding of what to expect can encourage those struggling with alcoholism to seek help and begin the journey to recovery.
The Goals of Alcohol Withdrawal
Before discussing the details of a typical withdrawal from alcohol, it’s important to understand the goals of a detox. The withdrawal phase is when the body learns to adjust to daily life without having alcohol in the system. The goals of withdrawal are to break the chemical ties to alcohol and to get over the worst of symptoms before beginning treatment.
In as little as a week, individuals who were physically dependent on alcohol can begin to function normally without it. Although withdrawal may be unpleasant, this step is a necessary beginning to treatment. Ending all alcohol consumption in a controlled, safe environment means that patients can start to live their lives without relying on any addictive substances.
Another goal of a formal withdrawal period in a detox or treatment facility is to help patients get over the worst of their symptoms before further treatment begins. This is key because it’s nearly impossible to learn from addiction treatment classes or group therapy sessions if you’re battling withdrawal symptoms. Once withdrawal ends, patients are generally more open and ready to tackle the root causes of alcoholism as well as how to prevent relapse.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect
The physical symptoms of withdrawal are perhaps the biggest concern for prospective rehab patients. While it’s true that alcohol withdrawal can be unpleasant, keep in mind that there are resources, medications, and help that medical professionals can offer.
Physical symptoms of withdrawal typically start about eight hours after the last drink of alcohol. These symptoms might start with mild nausea and abdominal pain. Between two to three days into the detox, physical symptoms often reach their peak. During this stage, it’s normal for patients to have an unusually high heart rate, to struggle with temperature fluctuations or to sweat profusely.
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect
In addition to physical symptoms, alcohol withdrawal can cause psychological and emotional symptoms. Patients who have a mental illness diagnosis might find that their conditions get worse during withdrawal. Even those without mental health problems might find some issues developing during the week or so of withdrawal.
Some of the psychological symptoms that can occur during a withdrawal from alcohol include:
- Suicidal thoughts
Typical Duration of a Withdrawal From Alcohol
Alcohol withdrawal treatment often lasts about a week, but that can vary depending on the specific needs of each patient. The severity of an individual’s addiction as well as how long he or she has been drinking can extend the withdrawal period. Overall, withdrawal tends to peak at about 72 hours after the last drink of alcohol. From there, symptoms recede and most patients get through withdrawal completely within eight days.
What Comes After Withdrawal
Alcohol treatment programs are about more than just the process of detox. Once withdrawal ends, the real work begins. Tackling addiction and embracing sobriety for a lifetime requires a variety of therapy approaches.
En route to recovery, some or all of the following options may be a part of an ongoing treatment plan:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Dual diagnosis therapy
- Art and experiential therapies
- Mindfulness training
Alcohol addiction doesn’t have to control your life for one more day. Call 866.262.0531 to learn more about Crestview Recovery and start planning your journey to health, happiness, and sustainable recovery.