If you struggle with alcohol abuse, you are not alone. According to government statistics, nearly a third of Americans engaged in excessive drinking in the month prior. Of individuals who drink excessively, about a quarter of them are diagnosed with a severe alcohol use disorder. If you believe you have an alcohol use disorder, an alcohol detox program may be the first step toward a healthier future.
Benefits of Alcohol Detox Programs
People interested in learning how addiction and treating addiction works may be curious about what is alcohol detox or what is the best way to detox from alcohol. An alcohol detox program is a structured regimen that helps eliminate alcohol and its harmful effects from the body. The best detox method is one performed under the guidance of a health professional or a health care team.
By itself, detox is not an adequate treatment method. However, an alcohol detox program addresses the problematic physical consequences of the body’s dependence on alcohol, clearing the way for individualized treatment to begin. Treatment is when medical experts address the emotional and developmental origins of an alcohol use disorder.
As an alcohol detox program’s treatment team helps a patient identify the root causes of the alcohol use disorder, they will also guide them with developing new insights, coping strategies and plans that will help the patient in recovery.
How Does Alcohol Detox Work?
An alcohol detox program directly reduces the physical danger of alcohol use. The primary harmful physical effect that a detox program must address is alcohol withdrawal. Experiencing withdrawal is an indicator that your body has become dependent on alcohol to carry out its normal functions. When going through alcohol withdrawal, your body can lose control of its normal automatic functioning, and severe cases of withdrawal can lead to seizures, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure and delirium. Left untreated, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.
A detox program using alcohol detox medication helps address the body’s dependence on alcohol by providing medical support and interventions. These interventions can include two types of medications: those that provide a temporary and safe chemical substitute for alcohol from which the body can gradually wean itself, and medications that help curb cravings for alcohol and reduce the chance of experiencing a setback. Following alcohol detox, treatment can begin.
Who Needs Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox programs are appropriate for anyone who has engaged in ongoing alcohol misuse, and a detox program is critically important if a person’s body has shown physical signs that it now relies on alcohol. When a patient arrives for treatment at a qualified treatment center, a professional healthcare team will assess their physical and mental condition and will determine the likelihood and severity level of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
If alcohol withdrawal is present upon arrival, a physician on the team may prescribe medications that help reduce its severity. This intervention will control or eliminate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Once the course of these medications is complete, the patient’s physician may consider medications that help reduce alcohol cravings and thus increase the chances of a sustained recovery.
What to Expect During Alcohol Detox
The usual setting for an alcohol detox program is within or close to a residential treatment center, though some are located within hospitals or other facilities. Facilities utilizing medical alcohol detox programs should be licensed by the state in which they are located and they should have on-site nursing staff and physician care available at all times. The staff will carefully monitor your health as you recover from alcohol withdrawal and will help prepare you for the next phase of your treatment. Successful completion of an alcohol detox program substantially increases the chances that treatment will be successful.
After your alcohol detox program is complete, you will be ready to begin your treatment phase. In treatment, you’ll work with a dedicated therapist and a team to discuss, in detail, the origins of your relationship with alcohol. Some examples of what you can discuss with your therapist might be how you feel alcohol addresses your core emotional needs or how your upbringing influenced you to think about the risks and benefits of drinking. After you develop new insights about your alcohol use and confront your substance use history, you are then prepared to re-frame your relationship with alcohol, develop more adaptive coping mechanisms and lay the groundwork for a healthy, long-term recovery.
Getting Started With Medical Alcohol Detox
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake has helped many individuals suffering from alcohol abuse. Let us help you live the life that you deserve, free of the destructive consequences of addiction. Contact us today to find an alcohol detox and treatment center near you.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from samhsa.gov/data. Accessed February 21, 2019
A Yost, D. (1996). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. American Family Physician. 54. 657-64, 669.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Medications Development Program. November 2017. Accessed February 21, 2019
Merkx MJ. (2014). Treatment outcome of alcohol use disorder outpatients with or without medically assisted detoxification. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.75(6):993-8.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.