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What is Alcohol Detox?

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is often the first step toward the treatment of alcoholism. During the period, alcohol flushes from the body and withdrawal symptoms appear while, ideally, under the supervision of an experienced team. The process of ridding the body of any trace of remaining alcohol to fuel cravings can take several weeks, and any symptoms of withdrawal usually subside after that period as well.

Indiana Center for Recovery knows inpatient detox can be the first and one of the most profound steps in getting your life back. By completing a detox, those struggling with alcoholism, alcohol addiction, or an AUD can move on with the journey of recovery toward individualized therapy, group therapy, and other supports.

Signs of Needing Alcohol Detox

The idea of quitting alcohol can overwhelm—especially when you consider the stories you might have heard about the detox experience. You might even wonder if you have to go through detox, if your condition isn’t that bad, or if you really can’t just quit at home. But, there are good reasons to see why you might need an alcohol detox under medical supervision and the care of an experienced facility.

Alcohol can create emotional, mental, and physical dependencies.

Many don’t realize that alcohol can create emotional, mental, and physical dependencies that can’t be undone easily after months or years of substance abuse. They are enmeshed, and the brain adjusts to the alcohol use disorder by relying on alcohol to produce certain mental states. Without alcohol, we see headaches, fever, nausea, heart issues, and even hallucinations. 

It’s cause for concern. Those already apprehensive about quitting their drinking need the additional support of a supervisory team to ensure they can effectively—and safely—transition to life without alcohol in the best possible health. A detox without these professionals could present serious health risks while the extent of the effects of alcoholism go unseen.

Symptoms of Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox can introduce mild, moderate, and life-threatening health concerns according to the damage inflicted by abuse of alcohol on the brain and body. Instead of signaling the body’s defenses against an illness or threat, the symptoms of alcohol detox come from a place of healing as you purge yourself of poisonous effects.

Those who have been drinking problematically for weeks will have a different experience from someone in the throes of alcoholism for years, but many of the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are actually the same. Indiana Center for Recovery expertly manages them:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Intense nausea
  • Acute anxiety
  • Prolonged insomnia
  • Recurring headaches

Those with a more severe history with alcohol may experience symptoms that go beyond the expertise of other inpatient detox facilities, but Indiana Center for Recovery staffs licensed nurses and physicians to care for our residents and guide them in their course of recovery. Our clients overcome even the most intense detox symptoms:

  • Constant tremor
  • New seizures
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Total disorientation
  • Delirium tremens

While uncommon, serious complications can occur during an alcohol detox that demands the experience of trained staff at an equipped facility. While some can appear mild at first, the unpredictable nature of alcohol’s detox symptoms means that medical supervision is required. 

Note that the severity and length of symptoms can also interact with other conditions like depression, anxiety, or lung and heart disease. In some cases, these symptoms can not only appear but worsen. So, beyond mere supervision, Indiana Center for Recovery takes a deliberate approach to the phases of alcohol detox that ensure the safe rehabilitation of clients. 

Stages of Alcohol Detox

The three stages of alcohol detox

Through the stages of alcohol detox, your care team will monitor your progression through withdrawal symptoms, and they will also make sure that any other health concerns are in check as you continue toward a full, happy life of sobriety. This all starts immediately because of the rapid onset of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can appear just two hours after the last drink, meaning that some of the most painful hours are only moments away as the team begins working to ready the best conditions for recovery. Throughout the work of monitoring, listening, prescribing, and supporting—your team is there to encourage and provide relief in the hours, days, or weeks ahead.

Six to 12 Hours

Here we see the initial and usually mild symptoms of alcohol detox. These include headaches, anxiety, nausea, shaking, and irritability. While some of these may subside momentarily, others can progress into the further phases of the alcohol detox process, causing physicians and nurses to take note or intervene.

One to Three Days

After the first 24 hours of inpatient detox, your symptoms can take a steep turn. Bringing with it the effects of the first 12 hours, the ridding of alcohol requires even more strength to persist. First, there is the possibility of severe tremors in the legs, arms, and hands. Then, you might see complete disorientation in someone detoxing and even the potential for life-threatening seizures.

With one day of alcohol detox complete, clients move through another full day in which hallucinations and panic attacks do, unfortunately, sometimes occur. These visions, psychotic features, and gripping angst can not only be disturbing and distracting from the main work of recovery, but they also pose a threat to the individual very presently.

Without the professional help and support of trained medical personnel, many are unable to recover from alcohol addiction on their own because of the wall of alcohol withdrawal. In just the first few days, alcoholics face an attack on their body and mind simply by not taking a drink. Fortunately, they start to see quick improvement.

Three Days or More

When teams like Indiana Center for Recovery take aim at addiction treatment using the right medical and behavioral interventions—symptoms taper and vanish. After the initial days of detox, clients start to feel better, stronger, and more able to exist comfortably without alcohol. Though some symptoms will last for weeks, in some cases, many of them can be treated before they go with time.

Medications for Alcohol Detox

In addition to monitoring and support, alcohol detox specialists at facilities like our Indiana Center for Recovery can offer medication management as an option for troubling feelings of anxiety, trembling responses to abstinence, recurring headaches, and more.

When these medications are used to reduce and relieve withdrawal symptoms, it’s done at a chemical level that reduces the risk for complications while correcting imbalances in the brain related to heavy alcohol use. Each medication on this list must be administered by a prescribing professional in a monitored environment to cut side effects and dangers during the detox process.


This medication comes in handy for many doctors who wish to lessen the alcohol cravings patients present during detox. When the possibility of relapse occurs, the medication blocks the pleasurable sensation that alcohol might impersonate. 

Despite its effectiveness, naltrexone requires a waiting period since someone taking the medication to fight compulsions too soon might feel strong, initial withdrawal symptoms as a result. Still, it’s a course of action that your care team could take if relapse seems risky and you’ve progressed through days of rehabilitation already.


The brain does not simply bounce back into the state it was in before years of heavy drinking set in and oppressed it. Drugs like acamprosate can be prescribed to help the brain function normally and, at the same time, reduce the lasting effects of alcohol leaving the body. It can, for example, cut symptoms of withdrawal like insomnia and anxiety while reducing compulsive cravings.

As seen in studies, acamprosate does not block the mind from experiencing alcohol as it always has, meaning that the best medication for one client may not be so for another. A client-specific, well-monitored approach is likewise recommended.


When alcohol is consumed, the drinker has a significant reaction that is as much chemical as it is behavioral or environmental. Instead of fighting these reactions, disulfiram produces its own, harsh, and unpleasant effects. Drinking while under the treatment of disulfiram results in headaches, nausea, weakness, and more in order to deter the patient from taking that next drink.

This treatment approach is not favored by everyone, but many have found it crucial for their own recovery. Treatment professionals are careful with the needs of the client as they pursue sober living step by step. The key, for Indiana Center for Recovery, is to always meet the client where they are.

Reasons to Detox from Alcohol

Those with severe alcoholism and those who have been unsuccessful at kicking their habit can find alcohol detox at an established facility beneficial for many reasons. Some, like the ability to live without a constant drink, are obvious. Others, like the chance to avoid uncomfortable, painful symptoms, are less often noted. Consider some of these reasons people choose alcohol detox for themselves and their loved ones.

Brain Benefits

Alcohol is anti-brain. It slows the communication pathways in the brain which contribute to short- and long-term effects. Breathing, speaking, thinking, and moving is affected totally while alcohol itself works to damage brain tissue and the limbic system itself. The result of these assaults is a life that seems bland, colorless, painful, unrelenting, and not enough.

To decide to be rid of alcohol is to decide that life can be better. Without alcohol, clients experience a lift from the old state of mind:

  • Eased depression
  • Improved mood
  • Sharper recall
  • Higher cognitive function
  • Better sleep
  • Mental freedom

Full-Body Boost

Alcohol is also anti-body. It weakens your immune system which depletes your ability to fight infection, disease, or sickness. With that, alcohol famously breaks down your liver, accumulating toxins and fat that lead to an early death. In the heart, alcohol moves to weaken you further, causing strokes, arrhythmia, and hypertension. And, if that weren’t enough, alcohol cuts off your natural defenses by harming the antibodies in your blood that help you stay free from cancer, for example.

Away from alcohol, clients may not get a clean bill of health, but they do enjoy noticeable and speedy improvements to their health following alcohol detox:

  • Better immune response
  • Return to proper liver function
  • Stronger heart muscles
  • Easier digestion
  • Decreased cancer risk

Person-First Help

Alcohol is anti-you. Just as alcohol cuts your brain and body off from proper functioning, alcohol twists relationships, beliefs, perspectives, and connections. It creates separateness, isolation, and despair. Keeping you in its grip, alcohol transforms what was once a life filled with excitement and possibility into one that only knows the bottle. 

Facilities like Indiana Center for Recovery fight alcohol’s isolating effects through safe, supported detox. When clients decide to find freedom through medically supervised alcohol detox, they discover that these connections improve, reform, and grow:

  • Individual attention
  • Custom treatment
  • Continued care
  • Specialized therapies
  • Medication management

Feeling Free

Being free of addiction rewards you in itself, but cutting alcohol can improve as many areas of life as alcohol abuse can harm—for yourself and for everyone around you. Think of the consequences on work, love, home, family, children, and on. Imagine what life would have been without the drinking. That’s why our clients detox.

In the end, you must decide whether you or someone you love needs an alcohol detox that cares for every element of their recovery in a supported environment. Despite that professional observation, medication, and therapy are recommended to everyone in recovery—the decision is with each person. 

Detox gives you the opportunity to seek, find, and achieve recovery with the highest chance of success through individual treatment options and monitoring. 

Find Alcohol Detox in Indiana

Indiana Center for Recovery is a top alcohol detox and rehabilitation facility creating strength and resilience from within each resident, patient, and client. Knowing that detox is a cornerstone in recovery, we strive for a safe, secure, and individually structured detox experience.

Our staff of physicians, nurses, counselors, and specialists coordinate detox and rehabilitation through treatment teams that help people overcome addiction with great success. Together, we create a space to lift compulsions to drink and set in concrete, life-affirming choices moving forward with life. 

Slip out from underneath alcohol’s hold, and see what life could be like. START RECOVERY