The goal of an alcohol detox program is to help men and women struggling with alcoholism overcome the physical component of their addiction – getting all alcohol out of their systems so they can move on to the next stage of recovery unencumbered with physical addiction issues.
Different Types of Detox
There are two primary styles of detox treatment for alcoholism: natural and medical. With natural detox, the individual quits drinking alcohol altogether and allows their body to naturally get rid of all the harmful toxins that have built up over time. Natural detox can be a challenging process because of the strong withdrawal symptoms that tend to occur during alcohol detox. Withdrawal symptoms associated with detox generally have their onset 24 to 72 hours after the individual has taken their last drink and can last for several days, depending upon the depth of the individual’s addiction.
Medical detox uses certain drugs to help ease the individual out of their alcohol addiction over time. These medications help to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms so the alcoholic is more easily able to handle the detox process. Generally, the individual is given smaller and smaller doses of the detox drug over time until their physical addiction to alcohol is overcome. The primary benefit of medical detox is that the reduced withdrawal symptoms that the individual will experience during the process (when compared to natural detox) will make it less likely that the alcoholic will relapse.
Withdrawal Symptoms During Alcohol Detox
Most people know that there are a number of withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detox. Experiencing these uncomfortable symptoms is simply a fact of life for those who wish to break free of their physical addiction to alcohol; however, they can be controlled somewhat via detox medications. According to Medline Plus, the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms experienced during detox include:
- Sweats and chills
- Strong alcohol cravings
- Hallucinations (only in the most extreme cases of alcoholism)
Although none of these withdrawal symptoms can, on their own, be considered life threatening, they do cause quite a bit of discomfort. This has caused many men and women to abort the recovery process and relapse into alcohol use. If you undergo alcohol detox in a facility, you are less likely to relapse since medical personnel is on hand monitoring the entire process and managing your withdrawal symptoms as needed.
Duration of Alcohol Detox Programs
The duration of an alcohol detox program depends upon the type of facility in question and the specific needs of the individual. If an individual has been drinking for years and engages in a natural detox program, it may take two to three weeks for the entire detoxification process to be completed. Medical detox, where the individual decreasingly smaller doses of the synthetic opiate (or other drug) over time, may take a month or longer.
Where Does Alcohol Detoxification Take Place?
Natural detox programs should always take place under the supervision of medical personnel. These professionals can help the individual stay safe and healthy while going through alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Natural detox programs take place either at the alcohol rehab facility itself, or in a hospital-like clinic setting. Because detox must be completed before an individual can continue into counseling, those alcohol rehab programs that do not offer treatment on site may recommend a nearby facility for the individual and then allow them admittance once detox is complete.
Like natural detox, medical detox may also take place at the addiction treatment center. Some rehab centers favor certain medications for detox so the individual is urged to do their homework on all medical detox options before choosing an alcohol rehab center. There are also stand-alone medical detox centers that offer daily doses of the drugs needed to complete the process. Finally, there are a growing number of at-home alcohol detox options that allow the individual to get a prescription for the detox drug and self-administer it in the home environment.
Detox Does Not Cure Addiction
A number of fast-talking treatment facilities claim that they can “cure addiction” through a quick and easy detox process. However, like most good things in life, complete recovery from addiction takes time and effort. There is also no finite cure for addiction; recovery is a process. The best way for an individual to overcome alcoholism is to take part in a comprehensive alcohol rehab program. These programs address both the physical (detox) and psychological (counseling) components of addiction. Without counseling, the individual will simply not have the tools to maintain their sobriety in the face of stressors and distractions that invade daily life.
The Importance of Alcohol Detox
How important is detox? Most alcohol and drug rehab programs will not allow the individual to move forward with the full admissions process until detox is complete. The alcoholic is simply not stable enough – and is at too great a risk for relapse – unless they have first cleansed their system of the toxins found in alcohol. Once the physical aspect of addiction has been addressed, it’s time to get to the real cause of the addiction through psychological counseling.
For more information on the detox process, contact us today. We can also help you find a high-quality, comprehensive treatment center that will work for you.