Alcohol Detox

The first step in discussing alcohol detox is the understand the distinction between alcohol detox and alcohol rehab.  Alcohol detox is the process of managing the physical effects of withdrawing from the use of alcohol.  Alcohol rehab, on the other hand, helps the recovering alcoholic to live their life without the use of alcohol.

During detox, the body will experience a variety of symptoms as it rids itself of any alcohol that remains in the system.  This can take approximately 5-7 days, depending upon how serious the use of alcohol was.  The symptoms can be very severe and in 10-15% of cases will require medical supervision.  With this in mind, the safest route is to detox with medical supervision.  Among the more serious symptoms is delirium tremens, in which the body undergoes extreme shaking, along with fast heart rate and other symptoms.  Hallucinations can also be very severe and very dangers.

Why would somebody choose only detox and not rehab?  The answer is, actually very simple.  Detox may take a week or less, but rehab can take weeks or even months, depending upon the severity of the alcohol abuse and other factors, such as co-occurring mental health issues.  For a parent, to be gone for a week is something that can be explained, but being gone for months can be much more diffi

cult.  Further, the expense of a week in detox is much less than the expense of weeks or months in rehab.

It must be made clear, of course, that detox does not solve the entire problem.  If the victim of alcohol abuse participates in detox only, the likelihood of relapse is very strong.  Some kind of outpatient rehab is necessary if the person is to succeed in making the changes needed to maintain a sober lifestyle.  Whether it be professional therapy or a self-help group, the recovering alcoholic must learn the skills to manage their life without the use of alcohol.

Recovery from alcohol abuse can be very challenging.  Detox itself generally requires some kind of medical supervision and learning to live a sober life requires the support of counselors, therapists or others in recovery.  Nonetheless, recovery from alcohol abuse is vital.  The negative impact of alcohol abuse on the body is cumulative, getting worse as the disease progresses.  The sooner you quit, the better of you and those you love will be.  Don’t put it off for some nebulous day in the future.  Do it now, while you still can. has a very useful tool for finding treatment centers  You can find it here:

Addiction and the Holiday Season – 2

As noted in a previous blog, the Holiday Season can be a very difficult time for recovering addicts.  Guilt, shame and other challenges can have a powerful impact on the addict’s emotional state and weaken their commitment to recovery.  What is to be done?  There are some simple ways in which the addict can remain firm in the fact of great challenges.

First, the recovering addict must be especially vigilant during the holiday season.  Considering the many pressures the recovering addict is dealing with, they must be especially alert to the presence of triggers.  The addict must realize and be prepared for the reality that alcohol and other drugs can be even more prevalent during the holiday season.

Fourth, the support of others in recovery is vital.  It is too easy to let your mind wander down dangerous paths and begin to think that you can handle just one drink.  As many persons in recovery have learned the hard way, even one drink is far too much, because it’s never enough.  Keeping in contact with a sponsor and a recovery group can provide the individual with the support they need to resist their temptations.

It is also important that the addict make good decisions about how they spend their time during the Holiday Season.  An alcoholic, for example, may want to skip a gathering where most of those in attendance will likely be drinking to excess.  Visiting people with whom the addict previously used drugs is also probably a poor decision.  Overall, the recovering addict must be aware of their own limitations and weaknesses and not put themselves in situations where triggers and temptations will abound.  Telling yourself that you can handle the triggers may be the first step to a fall or relapse.

The holiday season should be a time of joy, companionship and family, and it can be.  The recovering addict who dwells on past failures and sufferings is starting down the path that leads to relapse.  Far better focus on the present.  Enjoy the companionship of family and friends.  Take a drive to see the lights and other decorations.  Savor the good things that the holiday season brings.  The past cannot be changed, so let it go.  Live in the now and focus on the positive.  Surrender the guilt and grief of the past and wallow in the love and joy of the present.

The holiday season is not a reason for sorrow, but for joy.  So, enjoy it!

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Addiction and the Holiday Season – 1

Along with Thanksgiving Day, the winter celebration (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) and the New Year’s celebration are generally seen as times when families get together.  Usually, this is a good thing.  What happens, however, to a recovering addict who finds themselves surrounded by people they know they have hurt in the midst of their drug abuse?  Feelings of shame, guilt and grief can become very powerful.  In addition, drug abuse often begins because the user is dealing with mental or emotional pain from which they want to escape.  In simpler, terms, drug abuse is often an effort to escape the sufferings that are a part of daily life.  They drink to get away from the pain.

Family gatherings can bring this mental and emotional pain to the forefront.  The recovering addict may come to believe that his family and friends are being nice, but really resent having to spend time with a person who has caused them so much pain through their alcohol abuse or that they really don’t trust their recovery.  They’re just waiting for the recovering addict to go back to their old ways.

Another factor to consider is the simple reality that drinking addict beverages is a common part of the holiday season in most families.  A glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, for example is almost a given in many families.  A glass of wine at dinner on Christmas is similarly common.  A glance through grocery store advertisements makes it very clear that these stores expect to sell a lot of alcohol during the holiday season.  What is the recovering addict to do when they find themselves in the midst of so much alcohol and surrounded by family friends who are all enjoying a drink of some kind?  Combined with the guilt, grief and sorrow that the individual is already coping with, it may become overwhelming.

Other factors can also lead the recovering addict to resume drinking.  Gathered with family and friends and witnessing the joy that they find in their children and grandchildren, may grieve the reality that they will likely never know those joys for themselves.  As the recovering addict reflects on past holiday seasons and remembering people who have since passed away may become overwhelmed by grief that these loved ones never had a chance to see them in their recovery.  They may even believe that these loved ones held them in contempt and dislike when they passed away.  Seeing no opportunity to apologize to these loved ones, the recovering addict is filled with guilt or even self-hatred.  They grieve over the harm they have caused and despair of redemption and forgiveness.

Here’s a website that can help family and friends support a recovering addict during the Holiday Season: