Alcohol abuse is a global issue, with a concerning number of adults living with the mental and physical effects of alcohol misuse. Despite the potentially severe and negative impacts of alcohol use, many people find themselves unable to control or stop drinking.
Alcohol addiction is a complex and severe disorder. It doesn’t only impact the individual, but also the people and world around them. If you’ve gotten to a position where you can recognize that alcohol is impacting your life, you are in the best place to make positive changes. However you came to the realization, help is available and your future can be brighter. The first decision you have is choosing how to approach detox and learning about the methods available.
It’s likely that you have already begun thinking about the detox process and what that might entail. For many, recovery is a scary process and the fear of withdrawal stops them from attempting to get better. Alcohol withdrawal can indeed be difficult but, with the right support, you can move past it.
If you are considering detoxing at home, it’s important you are aware of the risks. Arming yourself with the facts before can lead you to make a more informed decision. Quitting alcohol cold turkey without medical support also leads to severe symptoms and a higher chance of relapse.
If these thoughts and considerations have been going through your mind, it is worth learning about your options for the detox process. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not only uncomfortable, but they can sometimes be fatal.
What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Alcohol addiction can be found in every state across the US. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that approximately 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 are living with alcohol abuse problems.
As your dependency increases and your alcohol consumption goes up, your tolerance to the substance builds. This means that your body becomes used to functioning with alcohol in the blood, and if you do stop drinking abruptly you run the risk of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome may include:
- Depression or low mood
- Mood fluctuation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea
- Twitches, tremors, and seizures
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol cravings
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
So How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?
It’s common for individuals to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms within eight hours of their last drink, with these symptoms typically increasing in severity within days 1 and 3 of stopping alcohol.
This can vary considerably depending on the quantity of alcohol consumed, how long you drank, and if you have previously experienced withdrawal. Some people may experience relatively mild withdrawal, while others experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Mild symptoms can be distressing, but they are manageable and unthreatening. Severe withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult to deal with and may result in delirium tremens, which manifests in a number of ways, including:
- Shakes and tremors
- Shaking hands and feet
- Chest pain
- Extreme agitation
- High blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of eye muscle coordination
If you are experiencing delirium tremens, seek medical attention right away.
Alcohol Detox Timeline
Many people are concerned with what the alcohol withdrawal timeline looks like. This can vary from person to person but we look at a typical detox process below.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours after your final drink. Symptoms vary between people but it is common for them to begin mildly, for example; alcohol cravings, low anxiety, or restlessness.
Symptoms are likely to increase within the following hours and peak between day 1 and day 3 of ceasing alcohol. This is where delirium tremens are likely to take hold. If you think you or someone you know is experiencing DTs, seek advice from a medical professional. This syndrome can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are likely to reduce within a week of alcohol consumption and, for many, stop within 10 days.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
Some people experience a syndrome called PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms). This is where the individual experiences mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms for a prolonged period of time, sometimes up to two years.
PAWS can manifest in a number of ways but tend to be more psychological, for example usually involving depressed mood, anxiety, anger, sleep issues, and exhaustion.
The good news is, you can reduce symptoms of PAWS without medical intervention. Studies have found that exercise is beneficial in the recovery process from addiction. By enhancing levels of neurotransmitters in your brain you can ease depressive symptoms.
Stress reduction is important in combatting symptoms of PAWS. Engaging in meditation, yoga, and other mindful activities can improve the effects, leading to better mental health and well-being.
The Next Stage
Although alcohol detox can be the most challenging phase for some people, it is in by no means the end of the process. If you are at this stage you should be proud of your efforts and be confident you can continue down the right path.
Staying on the right track often involves attending a rehabilitation center where you can take part in advice and education sessions on substance abuse and mental illness. This is crucial in helping you understand why your substance use disorder developed, what triggers this behavior, and how to healthily manage stressors and worries.
Whether you started drinking to mask symptoms of a mental health condition, or you got involved through a party scene, alcohol addiction is a severe illness and it takes time to heal.
Is Home Alcohol Detox Safe?
Some people may consider undergoing detox from alcohol at home. The familiarity and comfort of your own home can be appealing, especially given the unknown of detox. However, it’s important to know the risks of this option so you can make an informed choice.
The risks of a home detox depend on your level of dependence. If you have been misusing alcohol for a prolonged period of time, you have a co-existing disorder, or you were using very large amounts of alcohol, it is more likely you will experience severe detox symptoms. For this reason, it is safer to detox under the guidance of a medical professional in a secure facility.
Some risks associated with home detox:
- Lower chances of success: Without the support of medical staff, the triggers of daily life, and easy access to alcohol, many people begin drinking before withdrawal finishes. This only means more work in the long run as the process must go back to the beginning.
- Physical and mental health risk: The physical symptoms of withdrawal which we referred to above can put you in a life-threatening position. That’s why it’s safer to be in a medical environment. Additionally, the mental health impacts of withdrawal can cause severe depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
- Less comfortable: In a treatment center you are likely to be offered medication to ease symptoms, these are not so accessible during a home detox. Additionally, rehab centers are set up for the process and know what to expect, with medical professionals enabling a more comfortable overall experience.
What is Involved in a Medical Detox?
Medical detox is where you abstain from alcohol for long enough for all traces of the substance to be removed from your body. This gives your system long enough to adjust to the changes and begin to function without the presence of alcohol.
Under the supervision of doctors, you may be provided with medication to ease acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This can include anti-nausea medication for physical effects, and anti-anxiety medications for psychological effects. Although you may still experience discomfort, medics will be able to manage withdrawal symptoms to ease the process.
There are a number of factors that can impact your alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Your age, physical and mental health history, any co-existing drug abuse conditions, and the length of your addiction can all impact your experience. The important thing to remember is that under the right guidance your alcohol detox symptoms can be managed and you can progress to the next stages of recovery.
Common Stages of a Medical Detox
Although every treatment center takes a slightly different approach, there are four typical stages of the process. Including:
An initial medical assessment
Supported withdrawal process
The entire process is likely to last around 10 days, give or take depending on your personal circumstances. Each stage has to be experienced to get to the next, in that, you can’t jump past any of the crucial steps. But importantly, with the right support and alcohol withdrawal treatment, you can manage these challenging days.
How Can I Prepare for Alcohol Detox?
If you are preparing for a detox process it’s likely you have lots of questions, concerns, and uncertainty. Some people might give up before they even start for fear of failure or discomfort. We are here to calm some of those worries and answer as many of your questions as we can. We are confident that we have the skills and experience to get you through detoxification, but there are some things you can be doing too to aid the process.
We look at some helpful tips for preparing for alcohol withdrawal.
Maintaining a good level of hydration is crucial for your overall health, now and in the future. It’s possible you will lose fluids through vomiting and diarrhea, you need to replenish these stores and more. Sipping on water, squash, decaffeinated tea, electrolytes and broth are all good ways of achieving good levels of hydration for your system.
The physical and mental challenges of alcohol withdrawal can be very difficult to manage. It’s likely you will have days where you feel exhausted and your main job is fighting cravings. It can be tempting to begin drinking alcohol again just to ease the symptoms. Having someone around who you trust is crucial for overcoming this.
Whether or not that person understands all of the details of recovery, they should be someone who is compassionate, kind, and encouraging. Life after addiction holds a much brighter future, seek support and caring communities to guide you to that place.
If you are experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you may not feel up to much, let alone exercise. But after these effects begin to reduce, consider some gentle exercise. This could take the form of walking with a friend, doing some yoga, or going swimming. The endorphins achieved in exercise can do wonders for your mood and have been found to be beneficial in the recovery process.
Additionally, exercising in the fresh air has added benefits for your overall well-being.
Meditation and Mindfulness Practice
Finding a technique or daily practice which reduces your anxiety levels can be extremely beneficial in reducing alcohol cravings and severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Even just 5 to 10 minutes a day of meditation can result in a marked improvement in your experience. Many people use alcohol to mask symptoms of other mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, meditation can work to ease the symptoms of these underlying disorders.
Listen to or Play Music
Music is a well-known stress reducer, this is no different in the alcohol withdrawal process. It’s likely that during your substance use disorder, other interests and activities weren’t so present in your life. Music can give people a huge amount of joy and comfort, listening to favorite artists or discovering new music can give you a healthy focus.
Furthermore, engaging in music yourself such as playing an instrument or singing can dramatically improve your mental well-being.
Maintaining a positive outlook can be hard when you are struggling with withdrawal symptoms, but try to remember how strong you are and the positive steps you are taking for your future.
Sticking up positive affirmations around your room or house can be a great way to remind yourself of the steps you are taking to heal. ‘I deserve to be happy and healthy.’
For many people, medication can help with the alcohol addiction treatment process, during and after the detoxification phase. Medication that reduces symptoms of anxiety and insomnia is often prescribed at this stage. Additionally, some people will benefit from muscle relaxants.
It’s crucial that any medication you do take is verified and approved by a certified medical professional. This is to ensure your utmost safety throughout.
A Future of Health
If you drink alcohol on a very regular basis, and you struggle to cope without it, it could be time to seek help. It’s never too late to seek alcohol or substance abuse treatment. Whether you are still unsure if you have a problem, you are considering giving up, or you’ve had your last drink, we are confident we can help you.
Here at Crossroads Antigua, we are committed to supporting our clients to find a path that doesn’t involve alcohol and other substances. Our team of medical experts provides addiction treatment with the utmost compassion and care.
We understand the need for adaptable, flexible care plans. Our alcohol addiction treatment program begins with a medical detox where you are able to safely and comfortably detox from alcohol with round-the-clock support and care. We employ the 12-step plan to frame your recovery journey around a tried and tested method.
We don’t only aim to treat alcohol withdrawal, we want you to truly understand your addiction and what led to it in the first place. We achieve this through a range of therapies and educational sessions, in both individual and group sessions. Our therapies include:
- Trauma therapy
- Experimental therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual and group therapy
- Mindfulness-based relapse prevention
We put great importance on our aftercare programs, ensuring that you leave our center feeling well-supported and hopeful about the future. Our continuum of care places you at the center and can include sober living options, sober coaching, or continuing support groups.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Crossroads Antigua
At Crossroads Antigua we know that living with an alcohol use disorder can be an extremely isolating experience. We know how difficult it can be to step out into the unknown and ask for help. That’s why we aim to make the process as simple as possible for you.
Our treatment plans are flexible and can be tailored to your needs. We have a skilled team of professionals who are ready to support you in your journey and prepare you for a healthier, happier future.
Our center is based in a tranquil setting, enabling you the calm focus you need to set your mind to recovery and achieve it. Get in touch with us today to find out about our treatment process and how you can take steps toward sobriety.