Alcohol Detox Treatment: The Basics of Help

Your search for information about alcohol detox treatment may have led you to a lot of different sources that haven’t been able to answer your questions. There is a lot of information explaining the goals of treatment and the opportunity for every alcoholic to overcome his or her addiction, but not much that explain the basic principles of alcohol detox treatment. The purpose of this guide is to give you those details.

We want you to fully understand what detox is all about so that you can make an intelligent decision for yourself or someone you care about. At the conclusion of this guide, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

Our organisation was established to provide free assessments and referrals to people struggling with alcohol abuse and misuse. We maintain a database of alcohol rehab clinics and other treatment providers throughout the UK ready to assist those who need help conquering alcohol. One call to our 24-hour helpline is all it takes to start the wheels of recovery in motion. With that said, let’s move on to the basic principles of alcohol detox.

Alcohol Detox Treatment: What It Is

Alcohol detox treatment is a medical treatment designed to accomplish one specific goal: allow the body of the alcoholic to detoxify itself. In other words, the human body has a remarkable ability to cleanse itself of all toxins if it is just given the opportunity to do so. This is what detox treatment is designed to do.

By separating the alcoholic from his/her alcohol, we make it possible for the body to do what it does naturally. Over several days, the body gradually flushes itself of alcohol and the additional toxins and chemicals it produces as it is processed. Within 5 to 7 days, the body can be completely free of all of those toxins.

A good way to understand alcohol detox is to compare it to a chemical spill that the local fire brigade may respond to. Upon arrival, firefighters work to stop the flow of chemicals responsible for the spill. Once the flow is stopped, they can then begin flushing the affected area with water. Over time the spill site is cleaned and restored to its original condition. That’s what detox does. It stops the flow of alcohol and then allows the body to cleanse and restore itself.

When and Why It Is Necessary

Detox treatment is necessary whenever a person demonstrates physical and/or psychological dependence on alcohol. To understand why one must first understand what dependence is.

Alcohol dependence is a condition in which the mind and body have become so accustomed to having a certain level of alcohol in the system that they cannot function normally without it. For example, alcohol is a sedative. When a person drinks, his/her body has to compensate for alcohol’s sedating effects by generating additional energy in other ways.

A person who drinks excessively over a sustained amount of time is essentially training his/her body to continually generate that extra energy. If he or she takes the alcohol away, this individual puts his/her body in a position where it’s now working too hard to overcome the sedative effects of alcohol it has become accustomed to.

Detox is necessary to break the cycle of dependence. Until dependence is overcome, a person can never truly fully recover from alcoholism. Therefore, it is almost impossible to overcome alcoholism without first going through detox treatment.

What Detox Treatment Is Like

Every rehab clinic does things slightly different, but alcohol detox treatment in a residential setting follows a fairly routine course. It begins with a medical assessment to determine if there are any health risks doctors and nurses need to be concerned about. Part of this assessment is documenting when the last drink was consumed. The patient is then given a room and made comfortable in anticipation of the start of withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms begin appearing within 3 to 8 hours of the last drink, depending on how well the patient’s body tolerates alcohol. Symptoms will gradually increase until they peak somewhere between 24 and 36 hours. They then gradually subside until the patient is nearly symptom-free – usually in 5 to 7 days.

Throughout detox treatment, doctors and nurses monitor the patient’s health just in case complications arise. Prescription medications may be used in some cases to help patients better manage their withdrawal symptoms.

There are a number of different detox treatments you should be aware of:

  • Medically Supervised – Medically supervised detox is now the norm in the UK. It is a residential treatment characterised by patients being monitored by medical professionals 24 hours a day. Any complications that might arise can be addressed immediately.
  • Outpatient Detox – The NHS often recommends outpatient detox for alcoholics. This is a treatment program that involves visiting a clinic on a daily basis for the purposes of medical monitoring and receiving prescription medications. It tends to take longer than residential detox.
  • Home Detox – An alcoholic needing more care than outpatient detox can provide but lacking the resources to check into a residential clinic may be recommended for home detox. This kind of detox is conducted in the home with the help of a family member or friend and daily visits from a registered nurse.

Detox Is a Medical Emergency

Any person struggling with alcohol abuse or misuse needs to understand that detox is considered a medical emergency. While detox is not dangerous in most cases, one in every 20 alcoholics undergoing detox will develop a condition known as delirium tremens. This condition is serious enough that it can result in dramatic injury or death. The problem with delirium tremens is that there is no way to predict who will suffer from it and who will not. Therefore, it is not worth taking the risk.

Alcohol detox treatment is a necessary first step in recovery from alcoholism. For more information about detox, or to arrange for your own treatment, please feel free to contact us right away.

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