The Process of Alcohol Detox and What It Does for The Body

When a person stops using alcohol abruptly or slowly, the body goes through a painful process as it readjusts itself to function without substance use, and it is called alcohol detoxification. The prolonged use of alcohol changes the brain chemistry and makes an individual dependent on it to achieve a more relaxed or euphoric state. And once the alcohol is eliminated from the body, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms, including body pain, irritation, anxiety, and much more. Also, alcohol addiction detox is the first or primary step on the road to recovery and can be done in both outpatient and inpatient settings.For individuals facing dual addiction challenges, such as alcohol and opioids, a specialized approach like an opioid detox program may be recommended to ensure comprehensive and effective care during the recovery journey.

In this article, we will discuss how alcohol detox is adequate for most patients with alcohol addiction.

Signs of Detox

The signs of detoxing are pretty painful and occur rapidly after stopping the substance use. While some people experience withdrawal symptoms within a day or two, others can have them within a few hours. Some of the alcohol detox symptoms that you should be aware of are:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cravings
  • Leg cramps
  • Sweating
  • Shivering
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Kidney failure
  • Weakness
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Poor coordination

People with severe alcohol addiction can experience severe withdrawal symptoms, if not appropriately treated, which may include:

    • Hallucinations
    • Withdrawal seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DT)

How Long Does Alcohol Detox Take?

The duration of the alcohol detoxification process depends on a range of factors, such as an individual’s:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Family history
  • Frequency of substance use
  • Dosage of substance use
  • Mental health issues
  • Additional drug use

On average, the alcohol addiction detox takes one week, while it may take longer in severe cases. However, it may take weeks or months for the body to completely heal and get rid of the addictive behaviours and habits after the completion of alcohol detoxification.

The duration of withdrawal symptoms also depends on liver dysfunction. If the liver gets severely damaged because of alcohol addiction, it could take much longer for the body to heal.

Alcohol Detox Process

While the alcohol detox process depends on various factors, most experiences are broken down into four stages:

Early Stage

    • Withdrawal and alcohol detox begins after a few hours of the last drink.
    • Symptoms are mild.
  • Medications are typically not required.

Peak Stage

    • The worst stage.
    • Occurs between 24-48 hours.
    • The body is free of toxins.
    • Higher chances of relapse.

Weakening Stage

    • Symptoms begin to fade.
    • The body gets accustomed to the absence of substance use.
    • Medications can be reduced or ceased as required.
  • Most intense and severe symptoms set in.

Final Stage

    • Lasts between 5 to 14 days after the beginning of detox.
  • Inpatients can leave the detox treatment and enter residential treatment programs.

Medications Used for Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detoxification or alcohol withdrawal can significantly affect the body physically and mentally. As a result, people who reduce substance use may experience uncomfortable side effects and dangerous complications. To minimise these symptoms, the doctor prescribes certain medications to get through the pain, reduce the severity of withdrawal and risk of complications, and ensure a higher success rate.

One of these medicines includes Benzodiazepines. These drugs help reduce the adverse effects of alcohol withdrawal and also limit the chances of possible seizures. Benzodiazepines slow down the function of the central nervous system and provide instant relief from insomnia, muscle spasms, and anxiety, and induce a calming sensation.

Safe Place for Detoxification

Alcohol addiction is a severe health condition that disrupts your everyday life and plays with your mental stability. The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol addiction can be hazardous, and it becomes difficult to quit without medical assistance. Alcohol addiction treatment is a full continuum of behavioural therapies, detox, and medications. But, the detox process remains the initial step of addiction recovery. 

Also, the type of treatment and facilities you need depends on the severity of the addiction. Though inpatient and outpatient programs can help you safely detox, those with severe addiction need round-the-clock observation. Hence, if you or your loved ones are struggling with alcohol abuse, considering the alcohol addiction detox process is the right choice. For more details, you can contact your healthcare provider today!