If you want to recover from alcohol abuse or alcoholism, you need to complete a detox. An alcohol detox is the first step toward lifelong sobriety. What happens during alcohol detox? A great place to start is by learning more about what detox entails, the goals of a detox and what to expect.
What is an Alcohol Detox?
A detox is any time that a person ceases all consumption of an addictive substance. While it’s possible to detox from home, it can be very dangerous. Detox that medical professionals supervise around-the-clock is much safer.
During the detox, patients abstain from all alcohol consumption. When they do this, the body goes into withdrawal. This stage is often uncomfortable, but those in a medical detox have access to resources that help make it more tolerable.
What are the Goals of a Detox From Alcohol?
The goal of a detox from alcohol is to start the recovery process. To truly overcome a dependence on alcohol, it takes commitment, time and professional assistance. In a detox, patients can start to break free from the binds of alcohol.
Ultimately, patients will be able to leave detox without the physical need for alcohol. Of course, there are still psychological components at play. Patients should work on those in rehab, but detox covers the all-important first step of getting physically sober.
Once patients are sober, they can work on other aspects of their health. When the physical and chemical dependence on alcohol is gone, they will have clear minds and the ability to focus on recovery.
Who Should Complete a Detox?
A detox is necessary for anyone who struggles with an alcohol dependence. However, the signs of alcoholism aren’t always easy to spot. An alcohol detox is often a good idea if you can’t stop drinking or if cutting back causes you discomfort.
Signs of alcohol dependence include the following:
- Keep drinking despite the negative consequences
- Cannot stop drinking after one or even two drinks
- Do not feel intoxicated after three drinks
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
- Drink early in the morning
- Drink alone or sneak drinks from a concealed container
- Feel bad or ill when not drinking
- Have blackouts or can’t remember what happened while you were drinking
- Cannot have just one drink without feeling obligated to have more, even if you want to stop
- Drink to feel better
- Experience physical withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, such as nausea or a headache
- Family history of alcohol abuse
Another sign of alcoholism is when the negative consequences of alcohol aren’t a deterrent. Individuals who struggle with divorce, financial problems or health concerns because of heavy drinking should stop immediately. If they can’t, then there’s likely a bigger issue at play than just social drinking.
How Long Does a Detox From Alcohol Take?
The exact length of a detox can vary from one patient to the next. On average, it can take anywhere from five to eight days. What happens during alcohol detox depends to an extent on each person’s unique situation.
There’s an approximate timeline that most patients follow while completing a detox. About 10 hours after starting the detox, it’s normal to start experiencing some mild withdrawal symptoms. These generally increase in intensity about 24 hours into the process.
Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak about 72 hours into the detox. From there, they lessen, and patients see a decrease in discomfort.
What are the Most Common Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
While every patient is different, there are certainly some withdrawal symptoms that are more common than others. Many individuals will experience symptoms such as:
- A mild fever
- A lack of appetite and anxiety
These symptoms are very common in alcohol withdrawal patients because their bodies have become so accustomed to having alcohol in them that they will be irritable when it is not present. Symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the individual’s last drink and continue for weeks or months.
Delirium tremens is an example of one of the most dangerous possible consequences of alcohol addiction. It’s a condition that comes with very severe symptoms. These can include hallucinations and seizures causing some individuals to have a complete psychotic break from reality. In order to avoid these potentially life-threatening effects, it is important that all patients seek around-the-clock alcohol detox in Portland.
What is the Next Step After Detox is Complete?
Completing alcohol detox in Portland is the beginning of recovery from addiction. To maintain sobriety moving forward, patients should opt for further addiction programs.
In rehab, patients can benefit from a range of therapies and substance abuse treatments, including:
- Dual diagnosis treatment – for treating addiction and another mental health issue at the same time.
- Behavioral therapy – helps clients understand how they sank into alcohol addiction so that they can avoid triggers and temptations once treatment has been completed.
- Trauma therapy – unresolved feelings about past trauma can cause or complicate an addiction.
- Group therapy – clients benefit from the feedback of others who are going through the same experiences.
- Life skills – gives clients basic skills they need to live so they they can live a normal, independent life.
- Family therapy – helps families deal with stress so that they can offer the right encouragement to their loved one
What happens during alcohol detox can be challenging. However, the right treatment can make all the difference. At Crestview Recovery in Portland, Oregon, you can access resources to begin your journey to recovery. Call 866.262.0531 to work toward sobriety starting right now.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.