Before you head into a therapy session or attend 12 step meetings as part of your alcohol recover, you will go through detoxification. Detox is the series of interventions that are used to help patients from an actively intoxicated state to a drug and alcohol-free state of stabilization.

In order to detox, you must stop drinking, but quitting can quickly trigger some nasty withdrawal symptoms. The staff of your alcohol treatment program will initiate detox protocol to ease those symptoms and lead you calmly through your recovery.

How Long Will Alcohol Detox Take?

Everyone’s detox will work a little differently because people obviously have different levels of addiction, different physical makeups, and different levels of intoxication when they arrive. However, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, withdrawal will set in between 6 and 24 hours after a person’s last drink. An alcoholic may even have alcohol still in their system when withdrawal symptoms begin. For long-term alcoholics, symptoms of withdrawal begin mere hours after the last drinking spiking seriously cravings and a perceived “need” to drink in order to feel well.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms Treated in Alcohol Detox

When you enter an alcoholic treatment program, the exact nature of your treatment will depend on your unique needs. Many symptoms of withdrawal can be effectively treated in alcohol detox. As with the length of detox, symptoms are variable, but may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping: insomnia, nightmares, intense dreaming
  • Impaired memory and judgment
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased sensitivity to tactile feelings, light, and sound
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions, typically of the persecutory or paranoid type
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Hyperthermia
  • Disorientation/delirium
  • Fluctuating levels of consciousness

How Does Detox Treat These Symptoms?

Although there are medications that can be used, only a minority of patients will present severe enough withdrawal symptoms to warrant the use of prescribed drugs to offset symptoms of withdrawal. In such cases, benzodiazepines remain the medication of choice for treating withdrawal from alcohol. Proper use of the medication prevents the withdrawal reaction from developing into any serious threat to the patient. Additional medications that may be used include:

  • Relapse prevention agents
  • Antipsychotics
  • Beta blockers/alpha adrenergic agonists
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Barbiturates

Detox will also teach patients about their addiction and withdrawal Mere learning about what is happening to their body during the withdrawal and stabilization process has been linked to decreased discomfort during withdrawal and increased engagement in the detox program. It’s important to actively take part in your detox program in order to heal, feel better and overcome alcoholism that will otherwise continue to ruin your life.

Get Help Today

Need help finding an alcohol detox center? Call our helpline at 1-800-552-0697 to be connected with an alcoholic treatment program near you that can provide safe, medically monitored alcohol detox that meets your unique patient needs. We’re here to help you get well. Operators are ready to take your call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.