Alcohol Detox: What You Should Expect

Before starting treatment, it’s necessary to enroll in an alcohol detox program. But what should you expect from alcohol detoxification? Here’s everything you need to know…

According to 2019 studies completed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 85.6 percent of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their life. The study also looked at the prevalence of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use and found that 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and older reported binge drinking in the past month, with 6.3 percent saying they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use. Every person with AUD has different needs when it comes to treating their alcohol abuse, but for many, the unknowns of alcohol detox programs can cause hesitation and avoidance. Understanding what exactly happens during each stage of alcohol detox can help to prepare individuals to take the path to recovery. 

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detoxification is the body’s natural way of attempting to remove waste from its system. Individuals who have been drinking alcohol for a long period of time are more likely to experience negative side effects, requiring a medical detox program.

What Happens at an Alcohol Detox Program?

The goal of an alcohol detox program is to help you become mentally and physically stable in the earliest stages of recovery from alcoholism. Detoxing from alcohol in a treatment facility typically includes medication and medical observation. Typically, an alcohol detox program is an inpatient program, meaning clients live on-site for the duration of the treatment.

During a detox, the individual will experience symptoms of withdrawal. The benefit of a detox program is to ensure that the patient is monitored throughout the detox. When necessary, medical and medicinal treatments can be offered to the client by a medical team. 

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

This is widely considered the most difficult part of your rehab journey as alcohol detoxification can create uncomfortable and painful physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

  • Headache and migraine
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Seizure
  • Shakiness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Extreme sweating

Psychological Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Increased agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Night terrors

When withdrawal symptoms become severe, the individual is at risk for a condition known as delirium tremens, often abbreviated as DTs. This condition is dangerous due to its various life-threatening symptoms, including seizures, intense hallucinations, and even death. 

There’s no one answer to how long your symptoms may last, but it is common for some side effects to last a week or more. Usually, you will experience the worst symptoms between 24 and 72 hours since the last drink. Because alcohol detox can take a severe toll on your body, it is imperative you complete your detox under the supervision of trained medical staff to ensure your safety. 

If you’d like to learn more about alcohol detox treatment, inpatient rehabs, sober living, or other forms of support, contact Silicon Beach Sober Living today. We can help you or your loved one get the support you need for successful long-term sobriety.

May 20, 2022

Adam Snyder


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