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Is Medical Supervision Needed to Detox from Drinking?


If you are someone who needs to recover from alcoholism, you might be worried about the detox from drinking.

Many alcoholics are completely terrified of the alcohol withdrawal stages. This is completely normal.

Maybe you have seen old movies where the side effects of alcohol withdrawal.

The detox from drinking depicted in these movies showed alcoholics locked in psychiatric hospitals dealing with intense hallucinations.

Although alcohol detox was often deadly in the past, things have changed. We now have the ability to offer a medically supervised detox from drinking.

Some people go through a relatively calm detox from drinking, while others have a bit more trouble.

Either way, a detox from drinking sets you up for a long term recovery.

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What is an Alcohol Use Disorder?

An alcohol use disorder, known as an AUD is characterized by compulsive alcohol use. It can also be characterized as a poor emotional state when not using, and a loss of control over alcohol consumption.

When you suffer from an alcohol use disorder, you are also at risk for chronic relapsing. An AUD is one of several substance use disorders outlined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. This is a diagnosis of AUD that helps to do so based on:

  • Characteristics
  • Signs
  • Symptoms
  • Behaviors

These must be present within the 12 months prior to diagnosis. Some of these examples include:

  • Strong craving to use alcohol
  • Inability to minimize the use of alcohol, or to control consumption
  • Continual attempts to quit without success
  • School or job performance begins to suffer due to drinking
  • Interpersonal relationships suffer due to using alcohol
  • Tolerance grows more, requiring more and more alcohol is needed to achieve the desired effect
  • Symptoms of withdrawal occur when abstaining from alcohol

Alcohol use disorders can develop among people of all ages, gender, socioeconomic status, and cultures. More than 100 million people suffer from an AUD. This includes 70% of men.

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Detox From Drinking Safely

The complications of alcohol detox can be severe. These complications can even cause death.

You should ensure that under no circumstances withdrawal from alcohol be done alone.

Detox from drinking always requires medical supervision.

Doctors who specialize in detox from drinking can provide many different supportive therapies and medications to help you avoid discomfort.

This can prevent the most dangerous and life-threatening symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms During a Detox From Drinking

Alcohol detox is typically called “alcohol withdrawal syndrome.” These withdrawal symptoms can begin as little as two hours after you have had your last drink. These symptoms can come on quickly, in approximately 72 hours after the last drink. These symptoms can linger for weeks depending on many factors. Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Severe confusion or hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Headache
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Delirium tremens
  • Cardiovascular collapse

There are also severe symptoms of alcohol detox. These can require a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is trying to detox from alcohol and they have these symptoms, call 911 immediately. This person needs to go to the hospital as soon as possible.

Going Through a Safe Medical Detox From Drinking

During medical detox, there is always the chance that you may deal with complications. It is important not to be afraid of detox.

Despite this, it is also important to note that there is never a guarantee that detox will go smoothly.

Just know that there are therapies that can help to prevent a painful detox.

Under a physician’s watchful eye, some of the worst complications of alcohol withdrawal can be prevented.

Typically the common forms of treatment are either inpatient or outpatient.

During these programs, you will be monitored for signs of delirium tremens which can be life-threatening.

You will also be monitored for hallucinations, severe anxiety, and cardiovascular distress.

There are many different medications that can be used to manage symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and anxiety.

You might also be provided anticonvulsants. This depends on your personal medical history. Overall, a safe detox means it is done under medical supervision.

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Why Medical Detox?

There will be moments when you are uncomfortable during detox, and when feelings of anxiety or heart palpitations arise.

If you are able to communicate these issues to your treatment team, then they can be dealt with.

This is the foundation for a compassionate therapeutic relationship you need in recovery.

Alcohol detox alone is not enough. This is because after your withdrawal symptoms disappear, you will still have a long road ahead. Recovering from alcoholism will require holistic treatment. You need to nourish your mind and spirit.

This might include other forms of treatment such as yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, healthy eating, exercise, and spiritual work.
12 step activities are also commonly recommended in treatment. These groups will help you feel supported in the changes you are making in your life. Regardless of the treatment you choose, alcohol detox is the first step in your rehab journey.

Treatment and Detox From Drinking

Before you check in to treatment, you will be evaluated to determine if you require detox and if you are at any risk for medical emergencies. If it is safe, then you will move into the outpatient program. If you are at risk for medical emergencies, you will move into the inpatient treatment program.

Outpatient Rehab

One of the forms of treatment offered by many treatment centers is outpatient rehab. These programs offer experienced and professional support from a caring medical staff. During outpatient rehab, you will be able to go through the detox process. Despite this, you will not live at the facility. Instead, you will go to a rehab facility multiple times per week, for anywhere from three to eight hours each day.

Going to an outpatient program is convenient if you prefer to continue living at home. It is also perfect if you need to continue your responsibilities for work, school, or family.

Inpatient Rehab

Typically you will be recommended for inpatient rehab if you are struggling with a serious addiction. This program will offer you huge benefits. Not only will you be monitored consistently, but you will be in the care of a medical professional at all times, as you will be required to live at the treatment facility.

You qualify for inpatient rehab if you associate from the following:

  • Seizures
  • You have gone through multiple detoxes in the past
  • You suffer other medical or physical illnesses
  • You lack reliable support
  • Expectant mothers

Complications With Detox From Drinking

It is important to understand all of the medical risks that are involved with alcohol withdrawal. Detox from drinking can involve many different problems. These are including but not limited to:

  • Hallucinations
  • Lethal dehydration
  • Choking
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

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Getting Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol use disorder, then you need to go through a medically assisted detox.

This is why it is important to get help. At Resurgence Behavioral Health we offer free insurance verification for treatment.

This allows us to help you know what you can afford, so you can get help faster.

Contact us today to learn more, or for more resources regarding medical detox.

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At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.