For regular, heavy drinkers whose bodies have become dependent on alcoholic drinks to function normally, quitting is more complex than simply saying no to the next drink.
Withdrawal symptoms can occur during any attempt to reduce or stop consuming alcohol. Because severe, sometimes life-threatening symptoms can appear during alcohol withdrawal, detoxing under medical supervision is a safer approach to recovering from alcohol dependence after regular, heavy alcohol consumption.
Outpatient detox can be a workable option for some. However, for those people with a severe form of alcohol dependency or other risk factors of serious withdrawal, inpatient medical detox may be the best option.
Detox is the necessary first step in recovery from drug addiction. The detox process can be daunting, but it can become manageable with proper medical guidance and support.
- Alcohol detox is the first, most crucial step in recovery from alcoholism.
- When heavy drinkers reduce or stop their alcohol intake, they experience withdrawal symptoms, varying in severity.
- Although at-home alcohol detox is not recommended, it can benefit those with mild addiction.
- Inpatient and outpatient detox programs are given preference due to the inclusion of medical experts and medications.
What is Alcohol Detox?
Detox is often the first important step in recovery for those people suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD). Detox involves the removal of alcohol from the body after the body has adjusted to having the substance daily.
You can detox under the supervision of medical specialists in an outpatient or inpatient medical detox environment.
When you undergo detox, it helps your body overcome withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms of withdrawal range from mild to severe, depending on factors such as how much alcohol you drank, how often you drank, and whether you have any co-occurring illnesses.
While detox alone does not guarantee life-long sobriety, alcohol detox can be the first step to pave the path toward long-term treatment.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Reducing or stopping alcohol use can result in unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms. New symptoms will appear after a particular time from the chronic user’s last drink.
Minor withdrawal symptoms can occur 6 to 12 hours after the last drink, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
Alcoholic hallucinosis can develop 12 to 24 hours after the last drink and can involve the following symptoms:
- Seeing things that aren’t there (visual hallucinations)
- Hearing things that aren’t there (auditory hallucinations)
- Feeling things that aren’t there, like needles and pins (tactile hallucinations)
Withdrawal seizures can occur between 24 and 48 hours after the last drink.
Delirium tremens (DTs) can occur 48 to 72 hours after the last drink and can involve the following symptoms:
- Excessive sweating
- High blood pressure
- Hallucinations (mostly visual)
- The rapid rise in heart rate
Delirium tremens is a potentially life-threatening side effect of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens has a 5 to 15 percent death rate due to problems such as seizures, irregular heart rhythm, slowed breathing, and lung injury from aspiration.
Do I Need to Detox From Alcohol
It is essential to assess your drinking habits to determine whether you need an alcohol detox. We’ve compiled a list of questions to help you decide if you should cut back or stop drinking entirely.
These are some of the questions:
- How often do you drink?
- How many alcoholic beverages do you drink per day or per week?
- Do you have any daily or work issues caused by drinking?
- Do you have any symptoms of alcohol addiction?
- Have you been in trouble with the law due to your alcohol use habits?
- Is your drinking affecting your relationship with family members, friends, or colleagues?
- Do you have withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking for one day?
Best Ways to Detox From Alcohol At-Home
People suffering from mild to severe alcohol addiction may be able to detox at home. As long as withdrawal symptoms are mild, this is possible. On the other hand, those suffering from severe to acute alcohol addiction must seek professional help.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include seizures, hallucinations, shakings, and life-threatening delirium tremens.
Consider the following tips if you decide to detox from alcohol at home.
First and foremost, plan your alcohol detox process. Detoxing from alcohol might take anything from 6 to 72 hours. However, withdrawal symptoms might last for weeks in some cases.
Make sure there are no alcoholic drinks in the house before starting an at-home detox. Contact your support group and inform them of your plans to detox.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Water is an all-purpose solvent. Water not only dissolves food particles during digestion, regulates proper body temperature, and helps in nutrient absorption but also helps in the alcohol detox process by stimulating excretion.
Drinking lemon water helps in cleansing the liver, the body’s main detoxification organ. Lemon juice rejuvenates the liver and accelerates the body’s toxins removal process.
Follow a Nutritious, Healthy Diet
People with alcoholism often suffer mineral and vitamin deficits. Therefore, it is vital to have a nutritional and healthy diet during your detox.
The “alcohol detox diet” consists of the following components:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Vitamins and minerals
Get Proper Sleep
After all those nights spent in binge drinking sessions, it’s only fair to give your body a rest. Sleep helps the body’s recovery from the effects of alcohol.
According to research, getting proper sleep allows the brain to revitalize, helps identify toxin build-up in the body, and sends commands to affected organs to eliminate the toxins.
Have a Strong Support Network
Having a solid support system is one of the most natural methods to detox from alcohol. Surround yourself with family members and friends who are concerned about your future and ready to assist you in remaining motivated during this process.
To continue your recovery journey, join support groups for recovering alcoholics, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Exercising increases the body’s metabolic rate and improves digestive function, increasing excretion.
However, you should consider your body’s capacity to handle physical exercise because of sudden changes in diet and lifestyle. Begin with a low-intensity, low-impact, and short-duration workout.
Withdrawal symptoms are one of the struggles people experience during alcohol detox. During alcohol detox, stress, anxiety, and agitation are common.
Meditation and mindfulness can assist in alleviating withdrawal symptoms and even help with relapse prevention. While individual results may vary, meditation combined with therapeutic interventions can effectively treat alcohol addiction.
Medically-Assisted Alcohol Detox
Attempting to detox from alcohol at home is not recommended due to the risks associated with doing so.
The much safe alternative is entering an inpatient or outpatient treatment program supervised by a team of healthcare providers who can provide you with the care you need.
Some of the perks of medically-assisted detox that you won’t get while self-detoxing:
- A safe environment
- Medical stabilization
- Long-term treatment
- Peer support
- Therapeutic intervention
- Relapse prevention
- Family programs
When it comes to where you will detox, you have several options available, such as:
If you choose to go through alcohol withdrawal at an inpatient treatment center, you will get round-the-clock care from a team of addiction specialists.
Inpatient alcohol detox is usually recommended for those who have been consuming alcoholic drinks for a long time or drank excessively during their addiction.
Another benefit of inpatient detox is that a doctor can prescribe medications (such as acamprosate, benzodiazepines, disulfiram, and naltrexone) to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms.
An outpatient detox program is an option if your addiction is not severe. Outpatient detox includes regularly attending an alcohol rehab center throughout the detoxification process.
You will detox at home for the majority of your outpatient detox. When you go to the addiction treatment center, you may be given medications to help ease the alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Medications Used During Alcohol Detox
Different medications can be used to help patients manage alcohol withdrawal, including:
- Benzodiazepines: These medications help to lessen or prevent withdrawal symptoms like seizures. Long-acting medications, such as Diazepam (Valium), are often preferred. However, for patients with impaired liver function, intermediate-acting benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan) are preferable.
- Beta Blockers: These medications may be used to treat tremors and lower heart rate and blood pressure.
- Anticonvulsants: Some research suggests that medications like Divalproex and carbamazepine may help lessen alcohol cravings.
- Nutritional therapy: IV fluids, as well as vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and multivitamins, may be administered due to dehydration and altered electrolyte levels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the best way to stop drinking?
When you decide to stop drinking, the following tips can help you make it easier.
Make your intention known to your family members and friends
Avoid temptations, such as opting out of pubs and bars
Try new positive activities, such as exercising, a trip to a swimming pool
Keep your motivation up by giving yourself short-term goals, such as aiming for an alcohol-free week, then an alcohol-free month
Does water flush out alcohol?
Once alcohol is in your bloodstream, it can only be removed by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, urine, sweat, and breath. The process will not be sped up by drinking water. Energy drinks, coffee, and a cold shower will not help you sober up any faster. Caffeine and cold showers may make you more awake, but they do not remove alcohol from the blood and will not lower your BAC level.
How long do you have to drink to detox?
There is no correct answer for how long someone must drink to need a detox. Every person is different, with different factors regarding their alcohol use, including physiology, biology, social issues, and mental health issues.Not everyone who uses alcohol is the same; therefore, it is difficult to determine how long someone has to drink before the detox.
However, it is always recommended, regardless of circumstances, to enter medical detox to get high-quality care to quit using alcohol or any other drug.
How do I stop using alcohol to cope?
The best way to stop using alcohol as a coping mechanism is to develop alternative coping skills. Such as:
Physical activities, such as sports, exercise, swimming, etc.
Meditation or yoga
Watching your favorite TV shows and listening to music
Reaching out to others for support and comfort
Talking to a therapist
How do I safely detox from alcohol at home?
At-home alcohol detox is not recommended; however, it can help you if your addiction is mild in nature and you have the support of family and friends.
There are a few tips that can help you safely detox at home, including:
Remove all traces of alcohol in the house
Eat healthy foods
Gradually taper your alcohol intake
Engage in alcohol-free activities
Find new hobbies
Attend 12-step programs
Indiana Center for Recovery Makes Detox Safe and Quick
Your life is worth recovering for, and when you do make the brave decision to quit drinking, alcohol detox is the first step of that process.
You can expect it to be hard if you do it on your own, but the detox process can become easy and less painful when done under the supervision of medical professionals.
Indiana Center for Recovery provides an evidence-based medical detox treatment comprised of compassionate and highly qualified healthcare professionals.
At our treatment facility, you can get 24-hour care and access to addiction specialists who can handle your concerns anytime.
We believe in a holistic approach to recovery, and our medical detox treatment is often only the first step. We provide comprehensive care, including inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis, and therapies (such as CBT, DBT, and EMDR).
Therefore, if you are dealing with alcohol or any other substance abuse issue, you can rely on us to get professional medical care.
Click here at the number (844) 650-0064 to get in touch with our healthcare providers and learn more about our detox and addiction treatment programs.