Alcohol dependence, known more commonly as alcoholism, is a growing problem in the UK. If you are alcohol dependent, you will exhibit some very specific symptoms, including a very strong desire to drink and the need to continually drink more in order to enjoy the same pleasurable effects. If there is even the slightest possibility that you are alcohol dependent, it is imperative that you get help as soon as possible.
One means of help is an alcohol addiction detox programme put together by Addiction Helper. We provide detox through private clinics, charities and the NHS. The sooner you complete a detox programme, the sooner you will be on the way to taking back control of your life.
Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
Unfortunately, there is no method of detox that would be considered completely pleasant. Because detox involves separation from alcohol, your body will experience some very definite withdrawal symptoms as it breaks its dependence. Withdrawal symptoms normally start to develop within 3 to 8 hours from the time you take your last drink. It is important that these withdrawal symptoms not deter you from completing detox.
Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms are:
- alcohol cravings
- nausea and vomiting
- involuntary trembling
- excessive sweating
Obviously, each alcoholic reacts differently to detox. The severity and length of your withdrawal symptoms will likely be different from any others going through the same detox with you. As a rule however, most addicts are free of withdrawal symptoms within 5 to 7 days. Alcohol cravings can last a bit longer for some people.
Roughly one in every 20 alcoholics undergoing alcohol detox experiences something known as delirium tremens (DT). This condition is a more severe withdrawal that can include involuntary tremors, excessive agitation, and hallucinations. When a patient experiences DT, it could also lead to additional problems, including dehydration. If not managed by medical professionals, it could even result in death.
For this reason, it is recommended that alcoholics never attempt to detox on their own. Undergo the procedure only under the care of trained medical professionals.
The Purpose of Detox
The detoxification process is one of allowing your body to naturally cleanse itself of alcohol and its related compounds. It’s nearly impossible to break an alcohol addiction without undergoing a formal detox procedure. That said, there are medications that can be used to control withdrawal symptoms and make detox easier.
Once alcohol detox has been successfully completed, the recovering alcoholic can then set about changing his or her life. Sometimes that means attending an Alcoholics Anonymous support group or engaging in some one-on-one counselling with a professional. Other times it means a 4 to 12 week rehab programme through an outpatient or residential clinic.
It is becoming more common these days for GPs to recommend outpatient detox using a benzodiazepine medication. The medication is used to help manage withdrawal symptoms among alcoholics who are motivated to stop drinking. Outpatient detox usually follows a path similar to the following:
- Your GP prescribes medication and provides a schedule by which you take it. You will take the highest dose on your first day and gradually reduce it over the next week or so. This will help manage withdrawal symptoms.
- During your week of detox, you will regularly see your GP or a nurse. These visits are designed to track your progress, monitor your general health, and ensure you are not drinking alcohol.
- If your GP or nurse suspects you are still drinking, you may be required to take a breathalyser test. Be warned: if you continue drinking while taking your medication, you’ll render the medication useless. Any future attempts to detox may result in withdrawal symptoms at their worst.
- Often a GP will enlist the help of a family member or friend to provide support during your detox. That person may be asked to make sure you take your medication throughout its entire course.
You should know that some alcoholics manage detox quite easily while others find it incredibly difficult. That’s normal. Don’t be surprised if you feel very nervous or anxious for the first few days. Also, do not be surprised if you have some trouble sleeping. While medication does ease withdrawal symptoms, it will not eliminate them altogether.
Other Things to Note
The most important thing we can tell you about alcohol detox is that any medication used will not make you stop drinking. Only you can do that. Your determination to get well, despite any cravings for alcohol you may still have, is the most important factor in the entire equation.
Your doctor will likely prescribe a vitamin regimen to be taken during detox and for a little while after. This is to replace many of the nutrients that were lost during your time of alcohol dependence. If necessary, your GP might prescribe additional medications you can take to help reduce your alcohol cravings after detox. These medications are similar to benzodiazepines in that they are rendered useless if you continue to drink.
If your case is severe enough that outpatient detox with a GP is inappropriate, you might be recommended to seek alcohol detox at a residential clinic. A residential detox programme is administered by trained medical professionals with the experience and knowledge in handling even the most severe cases. If this is recommended for you, do not refuse it. It’s what you need to get well.
Ultimately, the goal is to complete detoxification and get you to a place where you are willing to abstain from alcohol for the rest of your life. Permanent abstinence is the only real cure for alcohol dependence. If you are not 100% committed to an alcohol-free life, the likelihood of relapse is rather high.
For the sake of yourself and your loved ones, we urge you to make the commitment to get well today. Addiction Helper is here to assist you by matching you with the appropriate detox programme for your circumstances. Our alcohol detox specialists are standing by to speak with you 24 hours a day, every day of the year.