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.

SAMHSA.gov has a very useful tool for finding treatment centers  You can find it here:  https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help

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