Abusing alcohol to the point of developing an addiction is not as difficult as you would probably think. It all begins with uncontrollable drinking trends now then, whereby you may become too intoxicated. Since you will probably suffer from some simple headaches the next day that can be sorted with painkillers, you will tend to believe that everything is fine.
However, the more you consume alcohol to the point of having signs like blackouts, fevers and alcohol poisoning, among others, the higher the chances of developing alcohol problems. These issues later accelerate depending on your levels of abuse or alcohol dependence.
Regardless of the kind of drinker you have become, binge or heavy drinker, developing mild, moderate or severe alcoholism is highly possible. The brighter side of your situation is that you can always make the decision to turn your life around and choose life, since addiction and having a good life can never go hand in hand. This path will have to begin with detoxification.
Signs that you need to detox
The fact that you have constantly abused alcohol means that your body is intoxicated and the building of these toxins will continue so long as you stick to this path. If you are keen with the changes that alcohol is making in your body, then you will see the need to detoxify your system and even quit consuming the substance.
The signs that indicate that you need detoxification range from the very mild ones that are easy to ignore, to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that affect you severely. The mild signs include the following and usually happen whether you are under the influence of alcohol or not:
- Frequent occurrences of blackouts as well as loss of memory
- Extreme mood swings accompanied by irritability
- You seem to be developing health challenges after drinking like alcohol poisoning, or long term health issues.
- Drinking alone is quite a habit, meaning that drinking with friends is sort of annoying to you
- You seem to develop cravings that increase from time to time.
- Responsibilities have become a problem since you drink too much
- Turning down alcohol offers is almost impossible
- You seem intoxicated more times than when you are sober
- Your appearance has changed to a sickish look accompanied by tiredness.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome are worse compared to the above mild signs because your body is housing too many toxins to handle. Therefore, as soon as you are not under the influence of the substance, they emerge to cause an alarm that you need alcohol to function. They include the following:
- Extreme confusion and agitation
- Tactile, visual and auditory hallucinations
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heartbeat
The occurrence of all the above signs is quite systematic. The mild ones begin early enough before dependence begins building up. At this stage, you are either in the mild and moderate stages of alcoholism. The latter takes effect in the late moderate stage to severe addiction.
If you suffer from the above withdrawal symptoms whenever you decide to stay away from alcohol, then taking the step towards alcohol detoxification can really scare you. However, this is the prize to pay for you go back to a normal sober person that is healthy.
Alcohol detoxification is all about interrupting the compulsive momentum of alcohol abuse in anybody that has developed alcohol use disorder. The processes involved in this are recovery or halting of the alcohol intake and probably the management of the withdrawal symptoms, especially if you have alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
In the alcohol addiction recovery process, formal detox is a very important step that comes before any other sort of treatment. After you are physically stabilized, the rest of the treatment such as therapy and counseling may follow, which need you in a sober state to increase effectiveness.
Therefore, living a life whereby you are constantly binge or heavy drinking is a remedy for alcoholism if you do not consider the alcohol detoxification option. This means that there are multiple types of alcohol detoxification that are your disposal, depending on your level of alcohol dependency.
Factors in choosing the best alcohol detox
Choosing the best type of alcohol detox can be tricky if you hardly understand yourself. Therefore, there are factors that can help you in choosing the most appropriate alcohol detox that can help you recover fully. If these factors are hardly helpful in making the right choice, it is advisable to seek professional advice.
They include the following:
- The length of your drinking problem
- The amount you consumed or frequency of consumption
- The abuse of other drugs aside from alcohol or mixing of other drugs with alcohol
- Number of previous attempts to acquire treatment
- The need for medical treatment due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome
- Co-existing medical conditions or dual diagnostic behavioral addictions or psychiatric conditions
- The need for legal counseling, employment or assistance.
The following are two types of alcohol detox that you can choose from.
- Medical Detoxification
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, medical detoxification is the best way to go as you pursue alcohol detoxification. Withdrawing from alcohol addiction especially in its advanced stages is quite risky.
The multiple symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome are dangerous and thus require special medical treatment. Some of such symptoms include seizures, which cannot be ignored as they are life threatening. Additionally, you may go into the delirium stage, whereby you get into an agitated and confused state, since you may experience hallucinations as you depict other unpredictable and dangerous behaviors.
What’s more, you could experience certain disturbances in your cognition and consciousness, which could become fatal due to the cause of accidents, violence and erratic behavior. With all these factors in mind, medical detoxification seems to be the best alcohol detoxification approach.
Medical Detox Settings
Since the medical detox setting involves the administration of medication that caters for the alleviation of cravings and withdrawal symptoms, it is important to understand the various medical settings that you can utilize for the detox period. They vary because the intensity and type of treatment varies as well depending your level of alcohol abuse and dependency.
These settings include the following:
- Outpatient treatment
If you choose to pursue medical detox through the outpatient treatment setting, you will acquire professional medical help from a clinical setting or doctor’s office. This means that you will create a treatment schedule with your addiction specialist that will need you to visit the doctor’s office as planned.
Most of the time, those that use this alternative are at less risks of developing complications. This means that their alcohol dependence is very mild and hence they can withstand the withdrawal symptoms as they carry out their daily responsibilities outside a hospital setting.
If you choose this setting, ensure to consult your doctor since you could underestimate the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. At the same time, if your doctor allows it due to your less severe alcohol abuse issues, target to have a very robust set of social support that will watch over you and motivate you not to relapse.
- Partial Hospitalization or Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment requires you to spend more hours of your day in the clinic as compared to outpatient treatment. The services offered are similar to those that you can receive in an outpatient treatment setting but usually done for longer hours.
It is also very effective if you have less severe withdrawal issues, but suffer from some mental or medical health issues. If you choose this medical detox setting, ensure to utilize the services that the inpatient population receives during the day, since it is quite beneficial.
- Residential Treatment
Residential treatment is the same as full hospitalization, whereby you spend several weeks or a certain period in the hospital setting. This medical detox setting is suitable for you if you have severe alcohol dependence or full blown addiction.
Your addiction specialist puts you under 24 hour care so that you can have protection from life threatening situations. Most addicts are asked to consider this option since it is the best on giving care. Furthermore, medication is provided to you if you tend to experience withdrawal symptoms that are unbearable or that can cause more complications.
- Intensive Inpatient Hospitalization
If you have severe addiction to alcohol and also have some mental or physical health complications, either due to alcohol abuse or existed before your addiction, this is the best medical detox setting for you.
It is similar to residential treatment, but goes further to provide you with the care that you need for the rest of your issues, besides addiction. It requires your admission into hospital based care, whereby you acquire fully supervised and full time care.
The best part about this medical detox is that it caters for persons with severe problems due to alcohol addiction. Therefore, medical intervention is readily available, considering that the withdrawal can be worse due to the presence of other health issues. With close monitoring and perseverance, this setting can really be effective in your detox as an alcohol addict.
Advantages of Medical Detox
From the above information regarding medical detox, it seems to be quite advantageous to anybody that has an alcohol problem. First, it is the most advisable means since you get all the medical attention that is required for you to push through the painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Second, it is a method that gives you confidence that you will emerge as a better person that wants to look forward to a better life due to the care that you will receive. Being in the care of the health professionals will give you peace even when the symptoms seem to be getting worse daily.
Third, it is the safest method since it keeps you from causing harm on other people due to impulsive behavior caused by pain. If you are in the hospital setting going through the worst of the symptoms of withdrawal, you are much better off than another addict going through the same withdrawal and still insisting on doing delicate activities like driving.
Lastly, the treatment programs and counseling that accompany this detoxification period are quite helpful in treating any psychological issues. Therefore, you will not only overcome the detoxification horrors, but also emerge as a stronger person, both mentally and physically.
- Social Or Non-Medical Detox
Social detox or non-medical is an approach that is useful to you if your alcohol abuse is mild, and caused by certain factors like stress. As an individual that wishes to get rid of the hold that alcohol has on you, you will quit consumption like the medical detox.
However, it is not going completely ‘cold turkey,’ whereby you are alone completely. Instead, social detox ensures that you have treatment professionals that will offer you both psychological and emotional support as you start to experience the withdrawal symptoms.
However, this approach differs with medical detox because there is no administration of medication in case you suffer from complications and severe symptoms. As a result, it is a very challenging method. As your body adjusts to the absence of alcohol, you will have to endure the unpleasant symptoms.
If you are really dependent on alcohol and decide to use social detox, the severe symptoms will cause you so much distress to the point of relapse, since there is no medication to manage them. You will begin to have intense cravings and despite the emotional support, it is likely that you will relapse sooner or later.
Relapsing after a significant abstinence period is quite risky since it could lead to an overdose, which is often alcohol poisoning. The period whereby you are not dependent on alcohol your body tends to return to normal, meaning that your tolerance for alcohol reduces.
If you relapse and consume the same large amounts of alcohol, your blood alcohol concentration may be too high for your body to handle, and cause alcohol poisoning. Therefore, due to the safety and humanitarian concerns, social detox is not advisable for persons suffering from moderate to severe alcohol addiction.
Social Detox Setting
The delivery of social detox should take place in a non-medical setting that is organized and residential. As soon as you are admitted into such a setting, you will receive services from appropriately trained personnel. The 24 hour monitoring, support and observation must be achieved for you to survive the alcohol withdrawal symptoms. As mentioned above, the setting will focus on providing social and peer support, as you undergo through the withdrawal period.
As you search for the provider of the support that you need during your social detox, you must know the quality that is best for you. The best provider should be able to maintain various standards since they are important for your success in the alcohol withdrawal period.
You should look for a social detox provider based on the following requirements:
- A residential setting that is in a safe and comfortable environment
- There must exist an agreement with local medical providers for the sake of emergencies
- The medical interventions should be foreseen by an addiction medicine specialist
- The cognitive, behavioral, biomedical and emotional problems should be supervised through specialized clinical consultation
- The staff must be awake on a 24 hour basis to monitor the conditions of all clients.
- The staff must also possess training in all areas related to alcohol addiction such as supportive care, assessment and referral procedures and basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique.
- The provider must have services like nutritional components and proper fluids, close observation, provision for client space and supportive staff-client interaction.
- There should be the implementation of a clearly defined policy that caters for care, admission,, discharge, and movement of clients
- The staff should have training on the documentation procedures which are useful in documenting care.
- There should be the administration of various therapies, such as cognitive, mental health, behavioral and medical, among others that you will need to understand your addiction.
Despite that social detox approach is hardly advisable to anybody going through the severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it tends to live up to a certain standard that ensures that your life can still be saved if the worst occurs.
The following are the elements that must be included in social detoxification programs:
- It must be in a quiet positive atmosphere
- There must be a hospital affiliated with the program to provide medical backup.
- The staff members must have training regarding the alcohol withdrawal complications and should be awake on all shifts.
- Detoxification should be preparation to proceed to another care level
As mentioned earlier, the social detox is not for all persons suffering from alcohol addiction. Therefore, the program excludes some special cases, depending on the symptoms that you already possess or will possess.
The following is the exclusion criteria that most of the social detox providers use while admitting patients. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or challenges, it is likely that social detox settings will refuse to admit you.
- The need for acute care
- A history of having seizures
- Vomiting of blood or persistent vomiting
- Too high temperatures exceeding 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit
- ingestion of vomit into lungs, currently
- abnormal respiration, ranging from shortness of breath or respiration rate above 26 breaths per minute
- Clouded sensorium like hallucination or gross orientation
- Recent trauma or head injury
- Sudden severe abdominal or chest pain
- Other significant illnesses like shock, poisoning, progressively worsening tremors, acute liver disease, unstable diabetes, chills, uncontrollable violence, internal bleeding, suicidal ideations and severe allergic reactions.
Lack of Medical Necessity
At times you may think that you drink too much once in a while and get paranoid about the direction of your life. This tendency is highly possible, especially if you are used to sticking to the rules about avoid toxic things in life or if you are a person that vigorously seeks perfection.
Taking alcohol once in a while like in an event, which is likely to happen once in a few months, does not mean that you are abusing alcohol. Therefore, you will hardly experience any alcohol withdrawal syndrome since your body is not dependent on alcohol.
However, detoxifying after consuming alcohol in that one event is important but does not mean that you should seek either medical or social detox. Hence, the following are signs that mean that you do not need either social or medical detox.
- You have no alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Your blood alcohol concentration is at 0.0 percent
- Your nutrition status is between moderate and good
- You do not suffer from any medical complications
- You have adequate knowledge about detoxifying your body
Nutrition and Diet
Whether you need social or medical detox, whatever you consume during the withdrawal period is quite important since it determines the full recovery of your body as the toxins exit your body. Therefore, adhering to nutritional and dietary advice is very important.
The following are the best foods, fruits and fluids to consume as you go through the withdrawal period:
- You should take large amounts of plain clean water, and avoid caffeinated as well as sugary drinks
- Consume citrus fruits
- Include cinnamon in the majority of your foods
- Target foods that are high in protein and vitamins
- Include fresh vegetables in the majority of your meals, especially the leafy greens
- Avoid fast foods as well as processed foods.
- Other foods to consume include cucumbers, garlic, whole grains, turmeric and cook with olive oil.
In conclusion, both medical and social detox are quite helpful during alcohol detoxification. However, medical detox is the best alternative since you receive the best care whether you are suffering from mild or severe alcohol addiction.
Social detoxification is quite selective because it can only be helpful to a few with less complicated issues. Therefore, choose wisely knowing that you must avoid a relapse.