What is alcohol detox?
Alcohol detoxification (or “detox”) is a safe and clinically-managed method of treatment used to help heavy drinkers and alcoholics safely stop drinking. It is achieved by slowly weaning the individual off alcohol or, more commonly, with the assistance of prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines.
If you or someone you know is engaged in regular heavy drinking or has recently tried to quit drinking alcohol and suffered symptoms of withdraw, medical detox and rehab or rehabilitation can be a necessary and life-saving resource. This is true even for individuals who have not been diagnosed or do not otherwise identify as alcoholic or drug addict.
What Is Physical Dependence on Alcohol?
Alcohol dependence is increasingly common and is one of the most often diagnosed psychiatric conditions in the world. When someone is engaged in repeated, heavy drinking or suffers from alcoholism, their brain chemistry can become changed. Common evidence of this change in brain chemistry is an increased “tolerance” to alcohol, i.e. the individual can drink a higher quantity of alcohol before appearing drunk or blacking out.
Eventually, the brain develops a physical dependence on alcohol in order to keep its chemical functions balanced and active. Then, when the individual abruptly stops consuming alcohol, withdrawal symptoms occur. These symptoms are often unpleasant and dangerous, and they can be deadly.
Chemical dependence is also possible in cases of drug addiction. Depending on the substances involved, quitting may require detox and/or drug rehab in these cases as well.
Withdrawal: The Dangers of Quitting Drinking on Your Own
If you are physically dependent on alcohol, quitting on your own is dangerous and potentially deadly. Symptoms due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Shakiness or “delirium tremens”
Studies indicate that quitting is fatal for as many as 5% of alcohol-dependent drinkers who try to stop drinking without the help of detox or rehab. Death is most commonly the result of severe shakiness or seizures, otherwise known as “delirium tremens.” Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, including delirium tremens, may begin anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after alcohol consumption has been abruptly stopped.
Help is Available
If you believe you may be physically dependent on alcohol or have experienced withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking, it is important that you seek medical help as soon as possible. The same is true if you believe you may suffer from drug addiction and are physically dependent on other drugs. Contact us to discuss your options for stopping alcohol or drug use without the risks of withdrawal, including detox, hospitalization, and enrollment in a rehab/rehabilitation program.