In 2019, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 14 million adults struggled with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). To put it differently, that’s 5.6% of American adults. In addition, 95,000 people die because of alcohol every year. The USA has a drinking problem. The sole way to detox your body from alcohol with success is through alcohol detox programs. Medical guidance can be the key to lasting sobriety.
What Are Alcohol Detox Programs?
Alcohol detox is a program that is designed to rid the body of harmful toxins. These toxins build up over time as one develops an alcohol addiction. Recovering alcoholics should attend alcohol detox prior to addiction treatment. This is because detox programs such as alcohol detox help patients deal with withdrawal symptoms in the safest way possible.
When someone is a habitual drinker, that person’s body develops a dependence on alcohol. This is because alcohol is considered a drug. In fact, the type of drug that alcohol falls under is depressants.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the brain will adjust its chemistry to deal with the constant exposure to a depressant. One way it does this is by speeding up its production of chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine.
Because the brain of an alcoholic gets used to being dependent on alcohol to function, when alcoholics stop drinking, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that alcohol detox programs help alcoholics manage include the following:
- Tremors (shakes)
- High blood pressure
- Excessive sweating
Delirium tremens (DTs) are extremely serious symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The amount of time it takes to detox your body from alcohol depends on the severity of the case. Other factors that could contribute to how long it takes for a person to detox their body of alcohol include the individual’s weight, height, and level of desire to get sober.
An alcoholic’s body might start to go through withdrawal within six hours after discontinuing drinking. According to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, the worst withdrawal symptoms begin approximately 72 hours after a person discontinues drinking.
A detox, in total, can last anywhere from a couple of days to a month. The detox or addiction treatment center that an alcoholic is detoxing at will determine what methods to use to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and expedite detox.
How Alcohol Detox Programs Determine the Severity of Alcoholism
Alcohol detox programs will likely first have the alcoholics get their bloodwork done. Most alcohol detox programs take place within an addiction treatment center.
A facility that specializes in addiction rehabilitation will run blood tests to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Someone who has recently stopped drinking will have a high BAC. Trained staff will monitor the level of an alcoholic’s BAC over the course of a week.
Negative Effects Alcoholism Has on the Human Body
Alcoholism has numerous negative effects on the human brain and body. For one, alcoholism can severely damage the liver. The liver is the part of the body that rids it of toxins. It acts as a biological filter, removing external chemicals in the form of waste. Unfortunately, too many toxins enter the body’s system when a person chronically abuses alcohol. As a result, alcohol can negatively affect the liver by causing the following conditions to develop:
- Fatty liver – A type of liver disease that falls under the spectrum of alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD). Excessive fat builds up around the liver, which disallows it to remove toxins from the body.
- Alcoholic hepatitis – This is another kind of alcohol-related liver disease that causes a liver’s cells to become inflamed. Alcoholic hepatitis can cause both kidney and liver failure. Toxins build up in the liver even further in this way.
- Alcohol-related cirrhosis – Another type of alcohol-related liver disease. This one replaces normal liver tissue with scar tissue. The liver then dies in a sense. Alcohol-related cirrhosis is a very serious condition that can cause a person with an alcohol use disorder to need a liver transplant. It also cause a person to develop an enlarged spleen or internal bleeding.
- Liver cancer – Alcohol addiction can increase the probability of liver cancer. This is because alcohol addiction puts the liver in such a vulnerable state.
Due to all of the negative health conditions that can develop in the liver and general body of an alcoholic, the staff at an addiction treatment center will check incoming alcoholics’ blood levels for liver damage. An alcoholic’s blood alcohol levels when coming into detox will act as a baseline that addiction treatment specialists will compare that alcoholic’s BAC to after detox to ensure overall physical health.
How Alcohol Detox Programs Detox Your Body From Alcohol
Taking bloodwork is one of the first steps in alcohol detox programs. The severity of the case will determine how a person will detox. A patient will need to be on medication to reverse liver damage if they have ARLD.
After that, a member of the addiction recovery facility will determine if a patient has a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder (aka dual diagnosis) can cause complications to alcohol detox. As a result, a recovering alcoholic with a co-occurring mental health disorder may need medication.
Alcohol detox programs will detox your body from alcohol through various methods. A patient may decide to go with medical or non-medical treatment. Staff at that particular patient’s detox or addiction treatment center will come up with a personalized plan of action to rid the alcoholic’s body of toxins.
Medical Treatment For Detox
Medical treatment for alcohol detox will primarily use prescription drugs to help the recovering alcoholic manage withdrawal symptoms. Although consuming alcohol may not appear as dangerous as consuming substances like cocaine or heroin, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be deadly.
Medication can minimize alcohol withdrawal symptoms though. This is particularly true with sedative medication. As a recovering alcoholic’s blood level normalizes, addiction treatment specialists will taper off his or her medication.
Recovering alcoholics can be put on medications for more than just alcoholism. Many recovering alcoholics might also be put on medication to help treat their co-occurring mental illnesses or seizures. This is common as seizures, and even mental illnesses, are common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, albeit severe.
Nutrition Therapy In Alcohol Detox Programs
Good nutrition is a tool in detox. This is because specific food can help the body function better. Nutritionists within an alcohol detox program will come up with a food plan to boost the immune system and give the liver a helping hand. Nutritionists may also add in vitamins to provide additional aid.
A detox diet for a recovering alcoholic may include:
- Foods low in sugar and fat
- No raw or uncooked seafood
- Meals low on salt
- A diet without excessive protein
- Food with lots of fiber (broccoli, collard greens, kale, artichokes)
Fiber is most important in a diet for alcohol detox. This along with plenty of water can help the liver get back to speed. At the end of the day, a balanced diet is very important to restore the health of a recovering alcoholic. Thus, many addiction treatment centers will provide patients with food, or give them a healthy diet guide to follow.
Therapy and Support to Aid Detox
A crucial aspect of alcohol detox programs is the support patients receive. Trained staff, alumni, and peers working toward the same goal can help with the psychological aspect of withdrawal. Patients are tempted to drink again when they go through withdrawal. A strong support circle can help them stay on the path to sobriety.
Therapists can also help during detox. They can offer an unbiased point-of-view on the reality of alcoholism and how to best avoid its temptation.
A therapist may use one or more methods to guide a person through their mental turmoil. Some popular therapies to use during alcohol detox include cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. These methods will help patients realize any underlying reasons as to why they drink.
How To Know It’s Time To Check Out of Alcohol Detox Programs
An alcohol use disorder (AUD) can hurt not only the person who is an alcoholic, but also everyone around that person. An addiction brings everyone who loves a person into the problem. In addition, addiction and the problems it causes can frustrate a person’s employers and teachers. In other words, addiction has the power to derail a person’s life and livelihood.
The following signs and symptoms might mean it’s time to look into alcohol detox programs:
- Drinking to mask the pain from a physical or mental disorder
- You’ve tried to stop drinking, but can’t
- Alcohol has gotten in the way of work or studying
- You drink at work or arrive to work drunk
- Your friends have stopped inviting you out to bars, clubs, and parties
- You’ve blacked out from drinking
- A mental or physical disorder develops because of drinking
- You can’t stop thinking about drinking
- You’ve stopped doing the things you love to do and decide to drink instead
- Friends and family have expressed their concern about excessive drinking
If alcohol isn’t the way of life, the only route to go is with alcohol detox programs. You aren’t a failure for not being able to overcome addiction on your own. Besides, when people have an AUD, they aren’t in control of their lives anymore. The best course of action is to check out a rehabilitation facility that suits your needs.
Alcohol addiction rehabs offer multiple programs to fit with everyone’s lifestyle. A residential program may help someone who wants an intense form of treatment. They want to be completely removed from bad influences, whether that be bars or friends who love to drink. On the other hand, partial hospitalization programs (PHP) ensure alcohol detox without the need to stay at the rehab.
How To Choose the Right Alcohol Detox Programs
Florida Center for Recovery (FCR) provides alcohol rehab in Saint Lucie County for male and female clients age 18 and older through an inpatient addiction treatment program. FCR’s history in providing comprehensive and affordable alcoholism treatment started long before 2002 with our first facility on Long Island. Our alcohol detox and rehab programs are founded on the belief of treating body, mind and spirit utilizing a blend of evidence-based practices, traditional therapies, and holistic alternative therapies.
FCR’s alcohol rehab programs are individualized to address each client’s particular needs.Our alcohol rehab programs treat not only the disease of alcoholism, but also any associated mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
We also offer a specialized chronic relapse program for individuals who have struggled to maintain recovery despite their previous attempts in treatment. This chronic relapse program helps clients to examine each period of recovery and each relapse episode that they’ve endured. That way the clients can help develop a recovery plan for themselves that is specific to their clinical issues and relapse triggers.
Contact us now if you or a loved one needs help achieving sobriety.