Alcohol Detox, Methods Of Alcohol Detoxification
Hollywood has made a number of films that attempt to show the reality of alcoholism but rarely does it show how one moves from addiction to normalcy. Like any drug, alcohol requires a lot of effort in order to overcome the addiction to it. Depending on the age of the user, physical health, years of use and how often he or she drank, quitting cold turkey is often not the safest choice. For one, the long-term users often suffer symptoms of withdrawal that can be painful, and even dangerous, to those in poor health, which is why it is suggested for habitual alcoholics to go through alcohol detox.
When considering the steps required for detox, the alcoholic must be able to first admit he or she has a problem. This admission often requires the drinker to hit some sort of bottom, such as losing a job or ending a relationship due to drinking. Often this is followed by a form of intervention either through a therapist getting the drinker to admit the problem, or family and friends banding together to convince the person he or she needs help. Without this admission, the alcoholic will never seek help and even resist any attempts the force it. Sometimes a stubborn drinker will not even believe he or she has a problem until the law intervenes, forcing the user to choose between jail and treatment.
Having admitted he or she has a problem, the alcoholic must now decide between home and center-based detox. This is, of course, not a consideration if the person is under a legal or medical obligation to quit, but otherwise, it is open to personal choice where the detox will happen. If the person does so at home there is the risk falling back into habit, not only because alcoholics often drink at home but also because drinking buddies will know where to find them. If one chooses to detox at home, some things to consider are if the people involved are able to handle the symptoms of withdrawal, and is the medical help in the area able to deal with the severe late-stage symptoms? However, successfully quitting the home does allow the ex-drinker to set up new habits in the place where the bad ones started. On the other hand, a treatment center offers a number of advantages, including; group therapy, a medical staff and a fairly controlled environment.
After setting up the place, the addict must now decide the method of detox. This must be done with some consideration to the level of problem. The two common detox methods for alcoholics are: the gradual reduction of use coupled with drug substitution, or quitting completely and medicating the users to relieve symptoms. The first method is best done under medical supervision as the reduction is more gradual with long-term users, taking several weeks or even months. While the substitution method can be time consuming, it is often the only really safe choice for users of considerably poor health. The complete stop method is usually used for short term users, or those who even at the height of addiction were not heavy drinkers. Although with the most mild drinking problems, a simple outpatient therapy involving just counseling is generally enough to stop an alcohol addiction.
Now that the user has set up both the place and method of overcoming alcoholism, the real business of detoxing can take place. Detox has levels to it that have mild to severe symptoms. The mild symptoms usually began within the early stages or first 48 hours of the detox, and can last months after treatment for alcoholism. The severe symptoms begin sometime after the early stages are complete and may last up for seven days, reaching their height at about day five. The minor symptoms of withdrawal include: jumpiness, shakiness, irritability, moodiness, depression, anxiety, fatigue, nightmares, headaches, sweating and nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, palpitations, enlarged pupils, clammy skin, hand tremors and involuntary eye movement. The severe symptoms include: vomiting, confusion, hallucinations, delirium (also known as DTs), high fever, agitation, convulsions, seizures, muscle tremors and nervous system over activity.
With the alcoholic done with the worst of the withdrawals, there is a period of time in which he or she must turn to a support network to find strength not to give in to the urges that are still very present. This is where a twelve-step program or outpatient therapy takes an important role in the detox. As the emotional stage of the detox can last several months, it is a good idea to plan ahead and set up the support network before going into the seven day physical detox. It is even more important to someone who is opting for the at-home detox, as the built in group therapy of a medical center is not available. Likewise, it is important to remind friends and family that while the alcoholic has quit, he or she is still an addict and may still suffer minor withdrawal symptoms. This can sometimes be tricky, because this stage sees many alcoholics go through a honeymoon phase where they feel totally cured of the illness. However, the honeymoon is followed by hitting an emotional wall that might lead to them coping with a drink.
The road to recovering is by no means a short, easy one. In reality, detox is only the first step of many towards the alcoholic getting his or her life back. It is painful and at times tricky but through careful planning, a program can be set to suit the needs of the individual. It must always keep in mind, not only a person’s medical history, but what is actually involved in getting sober and staying that way. Drug therapy offers a lot of alternatives for the addict on how to make it through this process, healthy, and with his or her sanity intact. Moreover, carefully choosing and tailoring the detox to fit the person increases the success rate, meaning better hope for him or her to stay sober.