The first step to overcoming alcohol addiction is detoxification or “detox.” The alcohol detox process can seem overwhelming and intimidating if you are new to sobriety and addiction treatment. Withdrawal symptoms during detox can be unpleasant and potentially dangerous, depending on the severity of your alcohol addiction.
When you detox at a rehab facility like Phoenix Rising, you get the medical care, emotional support, and supervision you need to detox safely and rise from the ashes of addiction into recovery.
What Is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox is when you rid your body and mind of harmful chemicals to regain control over your addiction. Phoenix Rising is the highest quality alcohol detox center that Palm Springs has to offer. After detox, you can enter our residential treatment program to continue your recovery journey.
Attention and supervision during detox are essential for several reasons. First, detox is an uncomfortable, sometimes dangerous, ordeal. Medical supervision helps keep you safe while taking care of your recovering body and mind.
People who have been drinking heavily for a long time are more likely to experience adverse side effects during detox. These side effects are known as withdrawal symptoms and range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to tolerance and biological changes, making detox challenging and potentially dangerous when you don’t seek professional help.
The process of alcohol detox involves three steps:
- Intake: This is the first step where medical professionals thoroughly review your drug, medical, and psychiatric history to understand each situation fully.
- Medication: Many detoxification programs incorporate prescriptions to manage withdrawal symptoms during detox and early treatment.
- Stabilization: This occurs when you undergo medical and psychological therapies to reach a balance of mind and body in ongoing recovery.
How Much Time Does Detox Take?
The alcohol detox process usually takes at least one to two weeks of inpatient treatment, depending on the severity of your addiction. The most intense symptoms of withdrawal generally peak within three to five days.
You can expect the following stages during alcohol detoxification:
- Within hours after your last drink, you might begin to feel on-edge, anxious, or restless. If you are accustomed to drinking daily at specific times, you might have cravings or urges associated with your drinking habits.
- During the first and second days of detox, you will start to have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person depending upon how much you drink, how often, and how long you have been dependent on alcohol.
- Between the third and fifth day of detox, your symptoms will peak. You might have dangerous withdrawal symptoms requiring medical supervision, including fever, confusion, and rapid heart rate.
- By your sixth and seventh day of detox, physical symptoms of withdrawal should begin to lessen in intensity. You might have some lingering symptoms for a few days; however, these symptoms will not feel as bad as they did earlier in detox. Psychological symptoms, like mood changes and depression, could appear at this time.
What Causes Withdrawal?
When you drink heavily for a long time, you regularly expose your brain to the effects of alcohol. The mind wants more of these pleasurable effects, causing you to drink even more. When you need to drink more and more to get the same results, you might be physically dependent on alcohol.
When you suddenly stop drinking, alcohol abruptly halts inhibiting your brain’s neurotransmitters. As a result, your brain struggles to adjust to the chemical irregularity. This struggle causes nausea, headaches, delirium tremens, and other withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms differ from person to person. You may be nervous to stop drinking because you fear dealing with withdrawal. However, you can get medical help at a detox facility to minimize the dangers of withdrawal and reduce your risk of relapse.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
During the first stage of detox, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as you adjust to no longer having alcohol in your system. These are symptoms that can range in severity depending on the specifics of your drinking habits.
Common symptoms of withdrawal might include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Irritability and mood swings
- Feeling on-edge
- Trouble thinking clearly
- Clammy skin
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Dangerous Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
In some cases of severe alcohol addiction, you could have dangerous and life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal known as “delirium tremens” or the “DTs.” Delirium tremens results from a sudden change in your central nervous system and brain functioning. When you stop drinking “cold turkey” without professional help, your body and mind go into shock without alcohol.
Delirium tremens is more common among those who drink heavy amounts of alcohol daily for several months and those who have regularly used alcohol for ten years or more. Symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- Severe mental confusion (or “delirium”)
- Deep sleep, which might last an entire day or more
- Rapid changes in mood
- Body tremors
- Increased sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
- Restlessness and agitation
These symptoms make it dangerous and potentially deadly to detox alone after drinking heavily for long periods of time. If you are concerned about the alcohol detox process due to the possibility of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, you should get detox services at an inpatient treatment facility.
The Need for Professional Detox
Professional detox at an inpatient rehab center can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and can even save your life if you struggle with delirium tremens or other life-threatening conditions throughout detox. Detox keeps you safe from your drinking triggers and eliminates accessibility to alcohol when you might relapse due to intense cravings.
Inpatient detox centers provide the following benefits:
- Detox safely with medical supervision to minimize the impact of severe withdrawal symptoms
- Provide comfort to make your detox experience more manageable
- Prevent relapse by keeping you away from alcohol and triggers
- Emotional support for the psychological symptoms of withdrawal
- Monitoring your physical health to ensure that you are getting the care that you need
- Individualized care to meet your unique needs in recovery
- Transitioning into residential treatment to continue your addiction recovery
- Medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms during the detox
Which Medications Help During the Alcohol Detox Process?
Due to the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following drugs for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during detox and addiction treatment:
- Acamprosate helps to reduce cravings for alcohol, which could be intense during detox and early recovery. This medication helps stabilize natural brain processes that have been disrupted due to alcohol abuse.
- Disulfiram causes unpleasant side effects similar to a hangover (vomiting, headache, light-headedness, and nausea) when mixed with alcohol. These side effects help deter you from consuming alcohol during treatment and detox.
- Naltrexone blocks receptors in your brain responsible for feelings of euphoria. Blocking these receptors helps reduce cravings because drinking will no longer feel as pleasurable while taking naltrexone.
Medications can help you detox more comfortably and reduce your risk of relapse and accidental overdose. However, these drugs will not cure alcoholism. You also need additional treatment services, like counseling and peer support, to recover from alcohol use disorder.
Inpatient Alcohol Detox in Palm Springs
If you or a loved one is dealing with alcohol addiction, alcohol detox is the first step of the process toward lifelong recovery. At Phoenix Rising of Palm Springs, CA, you can reemerge from the ashes of addiction and begin your life anew without relying on alcohol. Call or visit our admissions page and start rebuilding your life today.