What should you know about alcohol detoxification?

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What should you know about alcohol detoxification

Alcohol detox is described as a natural way that allows the body to eliminate waste products and toxins brought in by excessive and long-term consumption of alcohol. It’s the first step to helping a patient struggling with alcohol addiction recover, accompanied by medication, medical assessments, observations, and counseling.

A person who has been drinking heavily for quite a long period experiences negative side effects during the detox process, and sometimes it’s fatal. Visit https://www.ascendantny.com/ to learn more about alcohol detox and how you can handle the addiction. The following is what you need to know about the alcohol detox process. 

Process of detoxification

Alcohol detox prepares a patient before a longer treatment program. It’s normally effective and safe at an inpatient and outpatient facility, but for heavy users, an inpatient center is better due to around-the-clock medical monitoring. A detox process comprises of three steps;

  • Intake- The medical team comprehensively reviews the drugs a patient was using, the patient’s medical and psychiatric histories. The information is essential in understanding and determining how best to handle the patient’s condition and medical attention to help cure the addiction. 
  • Medication- Many detox programs have treatment procedures that mimic the effects of alcohol. It helps to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and fatal. Care needs to be taken to help a patient manage the withdrawal symptom successfully. The medication can also target co-occurring disorders and discomforts a patient is likely to experience. 
  • Stabilization- A patient undergoes medical and psychological therapies that assist in developing a balance of mind and body after the detox process. 

Side effects of alcohol detox

The detox process is medically assisted even though it has unavoidable negative side effects. The side effects result from the withdrawal symptoms as the body lacks the usual stimulation from the drug used. Many of the effects occur in the two phases of alcohol detox. 

Phase 1: During acute withdrawal

Acute withdrawal is the first phase that happens within hours of stopping to take alcohol and may continue for days or weeks. Severe side effects are likely to occur here, considering that the body is demanding the drug. The side effects range from mild to severe ones, which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Convulsions
  • Whole-body tremor
  • Heart failure
  • Shakiness
  • Hypertension

Phase 2: During early abstinence

The second phase of alcohol detox takes longer than the first phase. It may take months before the brain slowly starts to regulate the craving for the drug. It begins to get back to its normal functioning. The phase involves post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which includes:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood-swings
  • Insomnia
  • Diminished appetite
  • Restlessness

Drugs used in alcohol detox

A patient’s system needs to remain in balance to avoid major physiological upsets during the detox process. This means that some medication should be taken to help such a patient. The common treatment involved includes benzodiazepines, valium, and Ativan.

They help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms and prevent cases like a seizure. Seizure results in a fatality during detox and additional anticonvulsant drugs are used like Keppra. For years now, benzodiazepines have proven to be efficient in preventing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, there is a need to monitor them as they are highly addictive substances. 

Dangers of detoxing alone

Detoxing the cold turkey approach can be dangerous and fatal for cases of long-term alcohol abusers. However, such cases are rare and don’t commonly happen. Some of the severe side effects involved with alcohol detox are:

  • Intense cravings
  • Extreme nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Kidney or liver dysfunction
  • Depression

There is a need to seek medical attention for alcohol detox. It’s the best way to mitigate such side effects with the help of medics who are always willing to offer appropriate medications where possible.

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