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Alcohol tends to be a big part of American celebration culture. It’s served at everything from large sporting events to small intimate dinners. While many people have no trouble consuming alcohol without overindulging, others get to a point where they form a dependency because of alcohol abuse. People incapable of controlling how much they drink can benefit from enrolling in an alcohol detox program.
What is an Alcohol Use Disorder?
The term alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical term used to describe people incapable of moderating how much they drink. It’s a chronic illness of the brain that prevents people from gaining any control over their alcohol consumption. Individuals with an AUD may indulge in binge drinking and other unhealthy alcoholic behaviors and experience problems directly and indirectly tied to their alcohol abuse.
Your body starts getting used to how much you drink, causing you to develop a tolerance.
That means you must drink larger quantities of alcohol to experience the same effects. Only a medical professional can diagnose someone with an AUD.
Signs that you may fit the description of someone with a potential AUD include:
Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder
- Drinking more alcohol than you intend in one sitting
- Being unable to cut back on your drinking
- Spending a lot of time drinking alone
- Hiding the amount of alcohol you consume from others
- Feeling a strong urge to drink all the time
- Continuing to drink even when faced with the fallout of your actions while under the influence
- Start experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol start wearing off
The more symptoms you experience because of your drinking, the more likely it is you may need an inpatient alcohol detox or another detox program. The severity of an AUD can range from mild to severe. It’s best to seek the advice of a physician or addiction treatment specialist if you believe you have a drinking problem.
What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a collection of various symptoms experienced when you try to stop drinking. It’s a sign that your mind and body have become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. The substance has a sedating or depressant effect on the brain, which starts adjusting its chemistry to accommodate the amount of alcohol you consume. That includes producing larger amounts of chemicals like serotonin to compensate for the effects of alcohol.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Cutting off your alcohol consumption leads to disruptions in your brain activity. You enter a hyper-aroused state that leads to withdrawal. The severity of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on how much you drink and how long you’ve abused alcohol. Minor withdrawal symptoms start to set in around six to 12 hours after your last drink and can include:
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Heart palpitations
Hallucinations, both visual and auditory, can set in anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after your last drink. If you have a history of going through alcohol withdrawal, you may be more prone to experiencing seizures anywhere from 24 to 48 hours into the experience.
Some individuals enter a state of alcoholic delirium, or delirium tremens, between 48 and 72 hours into alcohol withdrawal. You may be more at risk for this condition if you:
- Have a history of mental illness
- Drink heavily every day
- Have a history of alcoholic seizures
- Are of an advanced age
- Have abnormal liver functions
- Experience other severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms
During this time, you can also experience other issues like:
The exact timeline for withdrawal varies from one individual to the next.
How Can An Alcohol Detox Program Help?
Alcohol detox programs help individuals manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Individuals with a less serious alcohol use disorder can benefit from outpatient detox services. People who have a history of going through severe bouts of alcohol withdrawal may need to attend an inpatient alcohol detox. People can continue feeling the effects of withdrawal for some time after undergoing alcohol detox. However, most people recover completely after receiving care at an alcohol detox center.
Many detox programs offer access to medication-assisted treatments to help alleviate the physical effect of alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines help with preventing more severe symptoms like seizures. Other agents like Haloperidol or Tenormin can help with a client’s vital signs and alleviate cravings for alcohol.
Going through detox is typically the first step in recovery from an alcohol use disorder. Once you purge your system of toxins, you’ll need to address the patterns of behavior that lead to alcohol abuse. Options for ongoing AUD treatment include inpatient or residential treatment at a rehab center. If cost is a factor or you have a less severe alcohol problem, you may prefer attending an outpatient alcohol treatment program.
Other services provided during a typical alcohol treatment program include:
- Therapy services
- Access to 12-step programs or 12-step alternatives
- Connections to an alumni network
What Happens After Completing an Alcohol Detox Program?
Alcohol addiction is a lifelong illness that must be managed like any other chronic disease. Ongoing recovery requires dedication and a commitment to living a sober lifestyle. Attending counseling sessions once you leave a detox program and subsequent alcohol rehab program provides you with the skills necessary to manage triggers in the outside world.
It’s also important to form a network of support to turn to if you feel tempted to drink. AA programs and alternatives like SMART Recovery connect you to others who have gone through similar struggles with alcohol.
If you’re ready to change the direction of your life, call Addiction Interventions to get a free consultation from a trained interventionist. It can be the start of a healthier life.