Alcohol Detox: Process, Effects, and Timeline

The medications with the best efficacy and safety are the benzodiazepines. Like alcohol, these agents enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA on the brain. Because of their similar effects, benzodiazepines and alcohol are cross-tolerant—in other words, a person who is tolerant to alcohol also is tolerant to benzodiazepines. Based on the patient’s score on the CIWA–Ar, the physician determines the appropriate treatment (see table). For all patients, especially those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, proven benefits of treatment include amelioration of symptoms, prevention of both seizures and DT’s, and treatment of DT’s.

What are 7 things that happen when you stop drinking alcohol?

  • You Might Dodge Accidents. 1/12.
  • Your Heart Gets Healthier. 2/12.
  • Your Liver May Heal. 3/12.
  • You Might Drop Pounds. 4/12.
  • Your Relationships May Improve. 5/12.
  • Lower Cancer Risks (Maybe) 6/12.
  • Your Sex Life Might Improve. 7/12.
  • You'll Sleep Better. 8/12.

This results in a perpetuating cycle that requires increasing quantities of alcohol to reach the chemical equilibrium. If you or someone you know is struggling with their alcohol use, seeking professional help can make a difference. Delirium tremens may also result in further medical complications such as cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory arrest, oversedation, or aspiration pneumonitis. These conditions all have the potential to be fatal—or to cause serious infections. It’s even more challenging to administer emergency medication for life-threatening symptoms. If your drinking makes you feel out of control and you are ready to seek help, many organizations can assist you.

Alcohol Detox Medication

Medical professionals can help manage withdrawal symptoms to avoid life-threatening issues. However, medical alcohol detox significantly decreases your risk of fatal withdrawal symptoms. While alcohol withdrawal can be serious, it can be avoided or treated with medical intervention. It’s rare for someone to die in medical detox with trained medical professionals managing their care. However, if care is administered too late or if you don’t go through medical treatment, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous.

goodbye alcohol letter

You may also feel mentally foggy, like you can’t completely focus or concentrate. This is why it’s often necessary to set aside days for resting and allowing your body to heal if you’re going through alcohol withdrawal. If you’re a heavy drinker—even if you don’t have alcohol use disorder—you’re likely to experience at least some symptoms if you stop drinking suddenly. Having a strong support system, through either family or support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), can make a huge difference in relapse prevention. In some cases, medication will be prescribed to aid the recovering alcoholic. These medications prevent relapse by eliminating the effects of alcohol or reducing cravings.

Withdrawal symptoms

The first stage of alcohol withdrawal treatment includes providing medications such as Benzodiazepines (Benzos), and Disulfiram, because they help mitigate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The medications prescribed by our physicians help normalize the chemistry of the brain while blocking the negative effects of alcohol. Controlled medications also help to reduce physiological cravings and normalize bodily functions. The risk involved in detoxing from alcohol depends on how severe your substance use problem is. If you’ve been dependent on alcohol for a long time, you are more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Detox

The counteracting excitatory effects will no longer be bridled by alcohol, which results in an overactive nervous system and dangerous adverse reactions. By Buddy T

Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Excessive drinking is defined by the CDC as heavy drinking, binge drinking, or drinking that’s done by anyone who is pregnant or under the age of 21. Baclofen has been shown in animal studies and in small human studies to enhance detoxification.

Starting the Road To Recovery

Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis suddenly stops drinking alcohol. Phenibut is used in Eastern Europe for alcohol detoxification as it has sedative and anxiolytic effects. Various vitamins, especially from the B group, are often used during alcohol withdrawal treatment. Although medically-assisted detox limits some of the negative side effects the user experiences, some are unavoidable.

gratitude in recovery

If a person can answer yes to two or more of the CAGE questions, they should consider seeking treatment. As a major part of the reward center of your brain, the limbic system is responsible for recognizing healthy activities and teaching your brain to repeat them. If alcohol use continues, even after negative consequences have come from excessive drinking, your SUD may have reached the limbic system.

It’s Impossible to Predict Who Might Develop Serious Symptoms from Alcohol Detox

When your limbic system teaches your learning center to treat alcohol as an activity to be desired, you will start to crave alcohol in times of stress even after detox. Psychoactive drugs like alcohol can trick the reward center into believing that the desired, euphoric effects of alcohol are actually one of the life-sustaining activities it’s supposed to recognize. The test is completely confidential and anonymous; your results are not recorded, are available only to you, and you are not asked for any personally identifying information. It can also help if you’ve recently stopped drinking and aren’t sure how serious your withdrawal symptoms are.

  • At the same time, the brain is producing more and more stimulating neurotransmitters to “keep up” with the increased alcohol intake.
  • This creation of stimulating neurotransmitters temporarily restores chemical homeostasis.

If your doctor thinks you might be going through alcohol withdrawal, they’ll ask you questions about your drinking history and how recently you stopped. We’re here 24/7 to help guide you or your loved on through rehab and recovery. This article briefly reviews the mechanisms, clinical features, and management of AW. The article also discusses how the treatment of AW can be linked to the treatment of alcohol dependence and any co-occurring or underlying disorders. For more in-depth discussions of some of these issues, the reader is referred to subsequent articles in this issue.

How long does alcohol detox take?

This makes it very difficult to successfully taper yourself off of alcohol. Of all of the mentioned medications, Chlordiazepoxide (Librium) is the medication that is most widely used to treat alcohol withdrawal. Research conducted for the National Institutes of Health states that alcohol detox can result in significant illness or death. If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing this form of withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately. Individuals should avoid certain places or people if they are triggers for their drinking.

In a medical setting, trained professionals can monitor the withdrawal symptoms and be prepared to administer any necessary medications. Medical professionals can provide patients with a safe and comfortable detox experience. For most people, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside after 72 hours. A “new normal”—physically and psychologically—will be established over the next few weeks. Another reason alcohol dependence is so dangerous is that the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can be fatal. For this reason, professional support for alcohol detox is highly recommended, particularly for those suffering from long-term alcohol dependency.

Alcohol misuse is a major problem in the United States and worldwide, and many people choose to self-detox from alcohol at home. While this may seem like an effortless way to address alcoholism, the dangers of at-home alcohol detox can be serious and potentially life-threatening. The longer the medication is taken, the greater the possibility arises for withdrawal symptoms.

  • For each case, treatment professionals must consider whether inpatient or outpatient treatment would contribute more positively to an alcoholic’s recovery process.
  • Someone who drinks more alcohol less often may experience less severe symptoms.
  • DT’s, which last up to 3 or 4 days, are characterized by disorientation and are usually accompanied by autonomic signs resulting from the activation of the nerves responsible for the body’s response to stress).
  • Trained professionals provide assistance in managing withdrawal symptoms, provide psychological support, and help to prevent serious complications.

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