Addiction to alcohol is a common problem facing millions of men and women from all walks of life. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), one in every 12 adult Americans abuse alcohol or have a severe dependence. The risk of excessive alcohol use is linked to dangerous behaviors and causes a number of health issues including cardiovascular, psychiatric and neurological problems. According to NCADD, “alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.”
Excessive alcohol consumption not only affects you but also your relationships with family and friends. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) states that 10% of children in the US have a parent with an alcohol problem.
Don’t be a statistic. Going through a professional alcohol detox program is the first step on your path to living a healthier, happier life. Do you or a loved one need help? Call 1-877-389-1135 to speak to a First Step Detox specialist.
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How Alcohol Dependence Develops
Understanding the long-term effects alcohol has on your brain and body will help you see the importance of getting help for this disease. A drinking problem may develop undetected at first, as you may enjoy a few drinks with friends at social gatherings. The ‘high’ you feel when intoxicated can be alluring. You may stop for a period of time—weeks or even months before getting the urge to drink again.
With prolonged heavy drinking, you develop a higher alcohol tolerance which means you need more drinks to feel the euphoric effects of alcohol, and your brain’s chemical balance changes. The neurotransmitters (the chemicals that help relay messages) in your brain try to adjust to the heavier levels of alcohol intake by allowing you to function “normally” even when under the influence. This is why many people who suffer from alcohol abuse appear to be acting normally even after many drinks and don’t always exhibit signs of intoxication such as slurred speech or unsteadiness.
Alcohol dependence occurs when your body develops a pathological craving for alcohol and develops withdrawal symptoms when you don’t receive it. A few common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety or paranoia
Many people continue to drink to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Once your brain’s chemicals have adjusted to heavier levels of alcohol, they need to readjust again after alcohol is removed from your body.
NCADD lists a few health-related illnesses as a result of long-term heavy drinking that include:
- Liver disease
- Triggers or aggravates any mental illnesses including depression and anxiety
- Pancreatitis and gastritis
- Social problems with family and friends resulting from risky or violent behaviors
- Accidents related to impaired driving or reckless behavior
- Higher risk of some types of cancers
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) reports that alcohol-related deaths are the fourth highest cause of preventable death in the US. Every year, alcohol-related injuries claim the lives of 88,000 Americans.
It’s important to note that alcohol affects everybody differently. Depending on your age, physical size and any underlying medical or mental issues, alcohol can have vastly different effects on people. Some people may engage in light social drinking, or even occasional heavy binge-drinking without developing alcohol dependence.
While many people associate alcohol abuse with teenagers or young adults, older adults also suffer from alcohol dependency. It’s often harder to detect an alcohol problem in older adults as they may drink in private. However, alcohol abuse is dangerous for older adults as they respond more quickly to alcohol and are more likely to mix drinks with prescription drugs.
You need professional help when you have developed a pathological craving for alcohol that is too strong to resist on your own. This is where our Florida alcohol detox center can help!
Alcohol Detox Process and Methods
Alcohol detox is the process of removing all traces of alcohol from your body. During this time, your body will experience withdrawal symptoms that occur as a result of readjusting and undergoing chemical changes to restore a healthy balance. The goal of detox is to provide stabilization — both physiologically and psychologically.
At First Step Detox, our Florida alcohol detox center believes in taking a holistic and natural approach to healing. This means we take into account mental, emotional and physical well being. Fully trained medical professionals and counselors are on hand to supervise and provide assistance around-the-clock.
Alcohol Detox Process
- Initial Assessment. The purpose of the initial assessment is to learn more about you. A professional will inquire about your family and medical history, any unique home or social issues, mental health problems, employment, and education background, and, of course, the amount of alcohol consumed, the length of time it has been abused and whether you have previously entered a detox or rehab facility.
- Forming a Plan. Together with a medical doctor, a plan will be formed to meet your individual needs. You’ll discuss your goals, any unique health issues, formulate an overall timeline and go over expectations.
- Medical Detox. Once you are admitted to a detox program, you will undergo treatment under the watch of experienced medical detox professionals.
- Post-treatment Counseling. Detox is only the first step on the path to recovery. Once alcohol is eliminated from your body, you can begin to discuss and heal the root problems of your alcohol dependence. You may be referred to a rehabilitation clinic, ongoing support groups or one-on-one counseling.
Outpatient vs. Inpatient Detox
An outpatient detox program involves visiting a hospital or clinic on a regular basis to receive treatment while still living at home. An inpatient program is one which you reside in until your treatment is complete. For patients with moderate to severe alcohol dependency, or for those with undesirable home situations, an inpatient program is preferable. Patients in outpatient programs may still have access to alcohol at home and may experience a more difficult time staying sober.
Inpatient clinics provide 24/7 medical monitoring of body vital signs and measurements of chemicals in the body. Intravenous (IV) may be used to feed fluids or any necessary medications to patients.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
As your body rids itself of toxins and alcohol through the detoxification process, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to severe depending on your individual personal and medical history and level of alcohol consumption.
Some existing physical or mental ailments may exacerbate alcohol withdrawal side effects. These illnesses include heart problems (irregular heartbeat, coronary or congestive diseases), pancreatitis and a history of depression/anxiety.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), a few common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Irritability and moodiness
- Mild tremors, commonly referred to as “the shakes”
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased heart rate
In very rare cases, some patients experience more severe alcohol side effects known as delirium tremens (DT) which include the following symptoms:
Due to the wide range of symptoms from mild discomfort to more severe ailments such as DT, attempting alcohol detox by yourself at home is not recommended. Going ‘cold turkey’ may often cause more harm to your body and has a lower chance of long-term success. Detox medical experts ease you off your alcohol dependence slowly and monitor your body vitals to carefully lessen any withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Timeline
Every patient responds to detoxification differently. While many people want to know an exact number of days or weeks, there are so many individual factors that affect recovery that it makes it difficult to predict a timeframe for withdrawal. A patient may experience some withdrawal symptoms and not others.
Most people’s withdrawal symptoms peak around two to four days after the last drink, and symptoms may persist up to several weeks for heavy drinkers. If you are admitted to an inpatient Florida alcohol detox center, you can expect your stay to last several weeks for your body to stabilize without the presence of alcohol.
The following is a general guide to a typical alcohol withdrawal timeline according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM):
Time after the last drink:
- 6 to 8 hours. Common withdrawal symptoms include slight tremors (shakiness), nausea/dizziness, vomiting, sweating, and anxiety. These symptoms generally subside by 40 to 50 hours after the last drink.
- 12 to 48 hours. Seizures generally occur during this period and very rarely occur afterward. Hallucinations (auditory/visual) may also occur.
- 2 to 3 days. Approximately 5% of heavy alcohol abusers may experience symptoms of delirium tremens (DT) such as extreme confusion, hallucinations, anxiety, insomnia and erratic behavior.
The symptoms a patient experiences in the first few weeks of withdrawal are known as the acute withdrawal stage. The symptoms you experience at this stage are mainly physical (as outlined above). In the post-acute stage, the symptoms are more psychological or emotional and may last up to 2 years. This is when patients must learn to manage their behaviors and cravings in a healthy manner as the brain restores its natural chemical balance without the use of alcohol.
While the physical symptoms a patient experiences in the acute stage greatly varies, the majority of people undergo the same or similar post-acute symptoms such as:
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
Having a strong support network of family and friends can help you get through this trying time. You may experience stretches of time with many of these symptoms and then have a period of recovery. The good news is that over time, your post-acute withdrawal symptoms will subside.
What you Should Look for in a Florida Alcohol Detox Center
When you are researching different detox centers, it’s important that you find a quality clinic that matches your philosophy and one that makes you feel comfortable. Here are a few characteristics of a high-quality alcohol inpatient detox center:
- Professional credentials. What sort of training and accreditations does the staff have at the clinic? A medical doctor should supervise your recovery, while a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors may help you during and after detox.
- Individualized treatment. Does the detox center tailor your recovery plan to suit your individual needs, or does it employ a one-size-fits-all approach? Since the effects of alcoholism affect everybody differently, flexibility and a tailor-made program help to address your unique issues.
- Comfortable environment. Since you’ll be living in the facility for several weeks or more, it’s important that your physical surroundings are calming and that the staff create an environment in which you feel comfortable.
- Ongoing support. After your detox treatment is complete, you should never be left without ongoing support. Detox is only the first step towards long-term recovery, and a reputable clinic will refer you to a longer-term rehabilitation center or provide a network of support.
A few questions to ask a detox center:
- Are my friends or family allowed to visit?
- What types of amenities are available at the clinic?
- Who will be watching over me during the detox process?
- What is the philosophy at your facility? Do you use medications to lessen withdrawal symptoms?
- Does your program accept insurance?
Why Choose First Step Detox
First Step Detox is one of the nation’s leading detox centers located in scenic Palm Beach, Florida. We’ve helped thousands of patients from around the country safely detox and can help you embark on the path to recovery. Each and every patient is treated like family and undergoes a customized treatment plan.
We believe in a holistic and natural approach to alcohol and drug recovery. We care about our clients whole mental, emotional and physical well being. Our team of medical staff, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists work around-the-clock to ensure your stay is as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
Each suite is equipped with a flat screen television and other luxury amenities. You’ll enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities and community entertainment areas.
Would you like to learn more about our Florida alcohol detox center, or speak to an alcohol detox specialist? Call First Step Detox 24/7 at 1-877-389-1135.