If you’ve been struggling with alcohol addiction and you’re ready to make a change, the first step toward long-term sobriety is detox. But after a sustained period of excessive alcohol consumption, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous – and in the most severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. With proper medical oversight, though, you can safely manage your detox and achieve the stability necessary to move on to an addiction treatment program.
The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol is a depressant that impedes your brain function and disrupts your nervous system. If you drink alcohol regularly, your body gets used to it and eventually adapts to overcome its effects. When your alcohol intake suddenly drops off, your brain becomes confused and hyperactive, causing discomfort, pain, and symptoms such as:
In severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, people may experience hallucinations, seizures, or delirium tremens, a psychotic condition that can be fatal.
How to Detox Safely from Alcohol
To avoid serious complications of alcohol withdrawal, there are a few steps to follow for a safe and healthy detox.
1. Get an evaluation
Before detox can begin, a team of medical professionals will assess your current physical and mental condition. Gathering information about your medical history, your drinking habits, and your state of mind is crucial for designing a detox plan that works for you.
2. Get stabilized
As your body adjusts to the absence of alcohol, withdrawal symptoms will begin to surface. The timeline for withdrawal will depend on the severity of your addiction and how long you’ve been drinking, but in general, the first 48 hours of detox are the riskiest. Medical observation and support are crucial during this time, and medications will often be used to ease discomfort and keep you safe.
3. Transition to treatment
Detox is just the beginning of your journey to sobriety. Once you’re medically stable, you’ll be able to transition to an addiction treatment program. There, you’ll work to overcome your addictive behaviors by identifying the root causes and developing coping mechanisms to keep you clean for the long haul.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Alcohol Detox
There are two main options for medical detox from alcohol:
Inpatient treatment centers
Living in a residential facility gives you access to round-the-clock care from medical professionals who will monitor your symptoms and adjust your detox treatment as needed.
Outpatient detox programs
Patients who’ve been identified as having a low risk of serious withdrawal complications may be able to participate in an outpatient detox program. This type of detox allows you to live at home while attending daily treatment sessions at your doctor’s office or clinic.
It’s important to seek medical oversight to aid you in your detox from alcohol. Aside from the serious risk of withdrawal symptoms, a study from the National Institute of Health found that people who attempt detox on their own are significantly less likely to maintain long-term sobriety than those who complete a supervised detox program.
Pearson offers clinical trials to help you overcome your alcohol dependency
If you are ready to stop drinking, we can help. At The Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, we test cutting-edge treatment for alcohol addiction. Our alcohol treatment study offers medical observation, individual counseling, and innovative medications to help prevent relapse after withdrawal. The study lasts up to 12 weeks, and you will be compensated for your time and travel expenses.
To find out if you’re eligible to participate in our alcohol treatment study, call us at (858) 784-7867.