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Alcohol Detox Program

Alcohol is a powerful and seemingly ever-present phenomenon. For some people, alcohol can be used responsibly and with few ill effects. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many others, and alcohol becomes a destructive force within their lives. Unlike some more intense and illicit drugs, alcohol is widely accepted, and addiction can go more easily unnoticed. Some individuals can be high functioning even while dealing with severe addiction problems.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the dangers of alcohol addiction and the nature of beginning recovery. For most people, there will be some steps internally of realizing that they are addicted and forming the desire to get help. Once someone has decided to get help (or been convinced to get help), the first part of recovery is detox. When dealing with detox, one of the main issues to address is withdrawal.

The Nature of Alcohol

Alcohol is classified as a “depressant,” which means that it has the effect of slowing down your central nervous system and brain function. As your body becomes more and more accustomed to having this substance in its system, the body is forced to work hard to keep you at a functioning level—alert and awake. The body is designed to keep you functioning, so this is what it seeks to do even when other substances are in your system.

Of course, alcohol is also addictive, so it continually drives the user to seek more and more in regular or even increasing intervals. Some of the signs or symptoms of alcohol addiction can include the following:

  • An increase in the amount or how often alcohol is used
  • An increase in the tolerance of alcohol or decrease in “hangover” effects
  • Drinking inappropriately, either at times or in places where one should not
  • Seeking situations in which there is alcohol
  • Adjusting relationships and friendships based on alcohol (choosing friends who drink heavily or with whom one can drink heavily)
  • Avoidance of loved ones, especially if they have exhibited alcohol concern.
  • Hiding the consumption or possession of alcohol
  • Needing alcohol to function “normally.”
  • An increase in lethargy, depression, or related mental and emotional issues
  • Legal or professional issues, including arrest and losing jobs

The Process of Alcohol Detox

As mentioned above, the body is designed for function. This means that your body is always trying to keep you in a state of functioning optimally, of being awake and aware when you need to be. When substances are introduced that change your body, especially ones which impact the brain, the body must adjust for the presence of this and continue trying to keep you functioning optimally.

Obviously, this can negatively affect your body since it forces parts of your body like your heart or liver to work more intensely and for longer periods of time than what is best for your health. Over time, your body will adjust more and more for whatever substances are being placed into it. Substances like alcohol can have a destructive effect on the physical processes of the body. This is in addition to the many psychological and emotional consequences long-term alcohol use can have.

It is specifically because of how the body adjusts to alcohol in the body that detox and withdrawal can be difficult. Once the body has adjusted, and the substance to which it has adjusted is removed, the body now must try to re-adjust. The use of alcohol over time has effectively changed the body to be not the same as before. When the alcohol is gone, the body wants to function as it had before the alcohol, but it cannot yet. Time is needed for the body to adjust to the absence of alcohol.

This process of the body adjusting to the absence of alcohol is known as withdrawal, and it the main problem involved in detox. In some cases, individuals like to try stopping “cold turkey,” which means stopping completely all at once. This contrasts with what is known as “tapering,” which is the gradual decrease in using a substance. Professional treatment is recommended for alcohol and nearly all other addictive drugs, as the withdrawal process can be dangerous or even deadly.

Withdrawal Symptoms

In cases of alcohol withdrawal, symptoms can be divided into those that are common and those which are rare but more severe. Some of the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Cloudy thinking
  • Nightmares
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Pale skin
  • Tremors

Some of the more rare and serious symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include the following:

  • Fever
  • Extreme agitation
  • Seizures
  • Extreme confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Delusional thinking

Another significant set of symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is known as “delirium tremens.” According to a survey, around 11.4% of individuals who withdraw from alcohol usage will experience this set of symptoms. Delirium tremens often occur in those who have abused alcohol over long periods of time and can result from a neurotransmitter imbalance. This imbalance occurs because of how the body had adjusted to alcohol and the sudden removal of alcohol from the system. The symptoms can include agitation, shortness of breath, sweating, dry mouth, palpitations, confusion, disorientation, extreme tremors, rapid heart rate, and vivid hallucinations.

Seeking Help

Substance abuse and addiction are serious and complicated issues, which is also true with those addicted to alcohol. Difficulties with the possibility of withdrawal or co-occurring mental disorders serve only to compound the difficult nature of substance abuse. The last thing that any of us wants is to miss an opportunity to get the needed help. 

Because of the dangers involved in addiction and substance abuse, it is of great importance that helps in the form of treatment is sought out as soon as possible. At Cycles of Change Recovery, we want to come alongside those struggling with various addictions and withdrawal symptoms to help transition into recovery. We can offer 24/7 on-site medical help and supervision, counseling, and consistent care to facilitate the process of healing. Please review our various programs to see what meets the situation or need. It is also recommended to review our accreditation, staff, and facility so that you can be confident Cycles of Change Recovery is the right path for you or your loved one.