Alcohol detoxification can be one of the most risky and lethal addiction detoxifications to endure

Many people are unaware of the severe complications that can accompany alcohol detoxification. Not only is it one of the most deadly substance abuse detoxifications to endure, it is also unpredictable. The physical withdrawal symptoms that result from alcohol detoxification can be unbearable if managed without the care and oversight of a supervised detoxification team. In some cases, the symptoms can turn deadly. If you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, then you need to seriously consider entering a professional detoxification program at an accredited facility. Depending on a person’s usage history, age, health, co-occurring conditions and poly-drug habits, detoxing from alcohol can put the user in significant danger.

Why is alcohol so addictive?

Alcohol consumption increases the level of dopamine that is present in the brain, resulting in feelings of pleasure. In the right amounts, alcohol can heighten a person’s mood, increase self- esteem, raise confidence and decrease inhibitions. However, alcohol is categorized as a depressant, and in higher doses, can cause irritability, anger, loss of control and aggression. If a person’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) becomes too high, it can lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

Many factors may contribute to one’s propensity toward addiction to alcohol, which can include:

  • Level of personal stress
  • Family History of Alcoholism and/or Genetic Predisposition
  • Adult Trauma
  • Childhood Trauma
  • Level of Self-Esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Presence of Mood Disorder
  • Socioeconomic Situation

Fast Facts About Alcohol Detoxification

  • Sudden alcohol cessation can cause hallucinations, convulsions, and heart seizures which may result in death
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as 2 hours after the last drink
  • About 5% of untreated patients going through acute alcohol withdrawal have seizures
  • Between 5% and 25% percent of patients die as a result of suffering the most severe stage of alcohol withdrawal, Delirium Tremens (DT’s), which occur anywhere from 24 and 72 hours after their last drink
  • Alcohol withdrawal seizures can cause death by head trauma, heart attack, stroke, lethal dehydration, or asphyxiation (from choking)
  • Around 15% of people who have Delirium Tremens will die
  • DT’s and seizures may be experienced up to a week after the last drink
  • It takes months for the body to fully detox from alcohol abuse
  • Many alcohol poisoning cases occur once an alcoholic resumes their drug or alcohol use after a period of abstinence – as their lowered tolerance level facilitates in an unanticipated overdose, called alcohol poisoning

The following reactions are evidence of dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium Tremens (DT’s)
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Profuse Sweating

How can I detox safely?

Medications help reduce or eliminate cravings, ease anxiety and help the individual transition more gently from an abrupt cessation from drinking alcohol. However, these medications must be administered and monitored with precision by a professional medical staff that specializes in drug and alcohol detoxification. Furthermore, it is critical for the detoxing individual to be in an environment where they can be immediately cared for should any harmful, adverse withdrawal reactions cause them discomfort.

An accredited detox facility will provide the care necessary for a safe withdrawal process from alcohol addiction, including an individually prescribed, medically supervised detox protocol tailored for the individual’s exacting needs. Furthermore, a team of therapists will help to manage physical and emotional conditions that the individual is experiencing as a result of their withdrawal symptoms, while providing them a safe environment to detox within, without the risk of relapse.

What To Expect During Alcohol Detox

Upon admission, a client who is in need of alcohol detoxification will be given a full medical assessment to identify:

  • How much alcohol they have been drinking
  • How long they have been abusing alcohol
  • A physical assessment
  • A psychological assessment
  • If they are taking any drugs in combination with their alcohol consumption
  • An assessment of their nutritional history
  • An assessment of their overall health and wellness


Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is one of the most unpredictable detoxifications to treat for a multitude of reasons, including the person’s general level of health, the quantity at which they drank, other poly-drug addictions they may have and their psychological health, to name a few. Depending on these and other factors, the individual undergoing detoxification from alcoholism may experience one or several of these stages of alcohol detoxification:

Stage 1: Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and abdominal pain. Symptoms may begin as little as 2 hours after the last drink.

Stage 2: High blood pressure, increased body temperature, unusual heart rate, and confusion may begin 24-72 hours after the last drink.

Stage 3: Hallucinations, fever, seizures, and agitation may begin 72+ hours after the last drink.

All symptoms tend to decrease within 5-7 days. Some side effects may take weeks to go away, primarily the psychological ones.

Why is medical detoxification is necessary for managing alcohol addiction?

3 Degrees of Alcohol Withdrawal

Depending on how serious a person’s alcohol addiction was will determine their severity of withdrawal symptoms. This is also a delicate and unpredictable case to determine without the care and consideration of a team of medical professionals who specialize in alcohol detoxification. However, most people who undergo alcohol detox will experience one of three varying degrees of withdrawal:

Mild: anxiety, insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain and/or vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, tremors, depression, foggy thinking, mood swings, and heart palpitations

Moderate: increased blood pressure, body temperature and respiration, irregular heart rate, mental confusion, sweating, irritability, and heightened mood disturbances

Severe: Delirium Tremens, hallucinations, fever, seizures, severe confusion, agitation, death (if not properly managed)

Goals of Alcohol Detox

Medication management, therapy and nutritional support can help to reduce or eliminate the fear, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or cravings that may accompany alcohol detoxification. Therefore, it is the primary purpose of Prestige Detox to help the individual to manage these symptoms while preventing relapse during the detox phase of treatment. Other supportive modalities include healing arts, individual therapy and recreational engagement.

Last modified: May 4, 2020

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