Alcoholism is the number one psychiatric disorder worldwide, second only to depression. In fact, more than 17 million people in the United States suffer from some form of alcohol abuse. In spite of warnings against self-monitored (cold-turkey) alcohol detox, a significant percentage of individuals believe they can quit anytime without any problems. To point out the obvious, far too many people never quit drinking because they tried it without professional help. Most of these individuals suffer a relapse.
What Happens in An Alcohol Detox Gone Wrong?
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors. Duration of the alcohol abuse, the person’s mental and physical health, and the presence of other addictions are all factors that contribute to a person’s overall discomfort during detox.
A person will progress through three distinct phases of withdrawal with a variety of warning signs such as:
First phase: This is the most dangerous phase. It usually occurs over a few days time. The first 72 hours after the last drink are the most crucial. Symptoms include:
- body tremors
- nausea, vomiting
- heart failure
Second phase: Usually, this is the longest phase. It occurs over several months but is not life-threatening. The brain is slowly stabilizing normal functioning. A few lingering symptoms may appear from time to time but fade fairly soon.
Third phase: This is the final phase. The person may experience anxiety or a state of dissatisfaction. At this stage, the person is easily persuaded to give in to cravings.
Obviously, the most dangerous period in detox is Phase One. At this is stage the symptoms are intense. Undergoing this stage of withdrawal on your own is to run the risk of deadly consequences. Anyone considering alcohol detox is advised to seek professional help.
Why Professional Alcohol Detox is Advised
After extended periods of regular or heavy drinking, the body learns to compensate for the depressive effect of alcohol by producing higher quantities of dopamine and other hormones and brain chemicals. Therefore, when alcohol is withheld, the body suffers from abnormally high levels of these chemicals, forcing the brain to adapt. At this point, severe symptoms can appear such as abnormal heart rhythm, dehydration, vomiting, and DTs.
When DTs appear, it is a medical emergency. Warning signs of DTs include confusion, delirium, and seizures. Additionally, heart attack or stroke can occur. In an estimated 15% of cases, DTs resulted in death.
Everyone reacts to withdrawal in his or her own way, and some people may not experience any of the above symptoms. However, the likelihood of even a remote chance of dangerous reactions is reason enough to seek professional detox.
Finding the Right Detox Program
Another key point about alcohol detox is that it is not a cure for alcoholism. It is only the first step in a treatment program that includes rehabilitation in a professional facility followed by an aftercare program for continued support and guidance. After successfully completing detox, the individual should enter an inpatient treatment facility to gain the skills for living a sober life.
An inpatient program offers a secure environment with 24/7 monitoring. In addition, they provide a curriculum of carefully planned activities and skills training courses that are designed to restore self-esteem and ensure that the patient is capable of avoiding temptations when they return to the outside world.
There are several types of inpatient programs available today. Fortunately, an addict can choose a program he or she feels most comfortable with. But, how do they know if it is the right program? First of all, it is best if the program offers detox on site. In this way, the patient can enter right into rehab immediately after completing detoxification. For one thing, it eliminates the chance for procrastination and relapse. The types of programs currently available include the following:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Indigenous/Native American
As shown above, the reasons to seek professional alcohol detox and rehab are far too many to be ignored. Take the first step today. Decide that you want to live a sober life. Then, call us immediately and let us get you on a path to sobriety right away.