Alcohol detox (or detoxification) is the process of ridding or removing the body system of waste and toxins from alcohol consumption naturally. Detoxification can happen naturally or in a treatment facility along with medication, medical observation, and counseling.
Drinking alcohol is common in today’s society. So common that nearly 90% of people have had a drink at least once in their lifetime. For the most part, people are social drinkers. It is as ingrained in our lifestyle as much as sports and intimate gatherings are.
The problem is, many go beyond what is considered normal at a drink or two. Of that same 90 % who drink, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 27% claim they binged on alcohol in the past month. That in itself is a scary number, as binge drinking at social events can cause people to drive impaired and lead to violent, disruptive behavior.
While binge drinking happens, it usually occurs at a big event or party. However, in fewer cases, it is an addiction to alcohol. 6.2% of people have what is called Alcohol Abuse Disorder (or AAD), and it does not just happen to drinking-aged adults. Nearly 623,000 kids between the ages of 12 and 18 also suffer from AAD.
Before we can conquer alcoholism and rehab, we must try to understand how people become addicted to alcohol in the first place. In many ways, alcohol is ingrained into our culture. It is considered a way to relax and unwind. We use it to add to the fun when we go out with our friends or family. When we celebrate, it usually involves alcohol.
To the normal and/or social drinker, alcohol is a very pleasurable experience. It is what we often turn to in both good times and sadly, the bad times. When we are down, stressed, or going through a rough patch, we may turn to alcohol a little more to get us through the rocky area.
This is really how many addictions start. Our bodies begin to crave the more pleasurable substances, and often people who become addicted to alcohol tend not to control their inhibitions.
In many situations, it is assumed that willpower alone will cure an alcoholic or addict. This mindset is coming from a place where alcoholism and other forms of addiction are not fully understood. While willpower has a role in recovery, this advice is not what an alcoholic needs to hear. In most situations, psychotherapy and family counseling, interventions and tailored treatment programs centered around medical, physical and spiritual needs. About 60% of alcoholism is purely biological and deals with genetics.
Beyond the mental battle is the physical battle one must endure to kick any addiction. Alcohol harms the body, and while the occasional drink is not a cause for concern, regular heavy drinking and alcoholism have an overall cumulative negative effect. It causes malnutrition, dehydration, complicates diabetes and other diseases, infertility, thinning of the bones, heart damage, cancer, fatigue, brain damage, and so much more.
Because of the impact on the body, a full detox is required to not only rid the body of the toxic substance but to heal the body. Re-hydration is necessary. Eating the right nutrient-dense clean foods necessary is essential. It will be one of the most important parts of the entire rehab process to achieve success.
Alcohol Detox Process
To overcome an addiction, a person must first undergo a process of getting that substance out of their system. Alcohol detox must happen at a good treatment center as severe withdrawal symptoms are common. The severe symptoms, such as seizures and delirium, can even be fatal.
Seizures are due to your brain’s struggle without alcohol. The more you drink, your mind and body have to get used to the constant alcohol in your system. It can be quite toxic, so it forces your cells to adapt. Then, once you take that substance away, your brain and body once again must get used to it, causing dangerous seizures that can kill you.
Other alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Racing heart
- Mood swings
- Severe anxiety
- High blood pressure
What to Expect from Alcohol Detox
Alcohol detox symptoms will vary by each person. The severity of the symptoms is determined by how long a person has been an alcoholic, his/her age, height, weight, and more. If you are younger and have not had a problem very long, the withdrawal will not be as severe as someone who is older and has been drinking most of their life.
Several Hours After Detox: Intense alcohol cravings. As soon as the detox takes hold, you are going to want more. The person undergoing treatment will want a drink, making detox facilities the best place to be monitored. Going cold turkey is difficult when your body has a physical dependence towards a substance.
First Several Days: The intense cravings for alcohol will continue. This time, physical symptoms of detox are more evident. There may be hallucinations and seizures. The person will most likely experience a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure during this time.
48 Hours After Start of Detox: Seizure and other symptoms will start to subside. Cravings for alcohol may persist for weeks after detox, but they will begin to diminish. The person will begin to feel better after each day.
Life After Alcohol Detox
Just undergoing alcohol detox will not cure you of alcoholism. It is a great start, but this will be a lifelong battle. Because alcohol is legal and available nearly everywhere, it is extremely difficult to defeat. That is why meetings and groups after treatment are important. After detox, your mind and body will be clear, and you will have a chance to start a new, healthy life.