Medical Supervision for Alcohol Detox

Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the most common form of substance abuse, afflicting an estimated 14.4 million American adults. Heavy or long-term alcohol use can lead to life-threatening diseases, affecting productivity and relationships.

If you are battling alcohol addiction, detoxing is the first step toward recovery. To avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms during the detox, personnel must monitor you. Learn about alcohol detoxification, including medical supervision and life after detox.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Natural "high tolerance" does not exist in the medical sense. In common parlance, "alcohol tolerance" refers to an individual's "upper limit," or the amount of alcohol they can consume before experiencing the effects or getting very drunk. Tolerance to alcohol is associated with age, height, metabolism, and body composition, allowing for the more rapid and efficient digestion of alcohol, resulting in less obvious effects. 

The term "clinical tolerance to alcohol" refers to the diminished neurochemical activation that occurs with prolonged alcohol use. Your brain's reaction to alcohol will become less severe if you continue to drink over time. Because of the way alcohol alters brain chemistry, drinking more or more often is necessary to have the same intoxicating effects. 

Increases tolerance and consumption rates, raising the risk of developing a physical dependency on alcohol. To be dependent, your brain and body must need alcohol at a consistent, low enough level that it does not disrupt regular functioning. Physical dependency on alcohol may lead to various adverse psychological and behavioral effects, such as difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and controlling one's emotions. 

If you have developed physical alcohol dependence, you may feel withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly cut down on your drinking, abstain from alcohol for longer than usual, or try to quit drinking altogether. If you find that alcohol helps with them, you may start drinking again. Withdrawal symptoms might worsen the longer one stays in this cycle. 

The collection of signs and symptoms that arise when an alcoholic abruptly reduces or stops drinking is known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The severity of the symptoms depends on the individual and the amount of alcohol consumed. 

In severe cases of AUD, the first signs of withdrawal will show 8-10 hours after the last drink.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol changes the balance of neurotransmitters that cause or prevent euphoria and relaxation. In its absence, your body still overproduces certain neurotransmitters and depresses others. It is this imbalance that causes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, nervousness, irritability, depression, fatigue or lethargy, shakiness and body tremors, mood swings, mental impairment, dilated pupils, insomnia, headaches, nausea and vomiting, night terrors, loss of appetite, paleness, and increased heart rate, among others.

The severity of symptoms depends on your drinking habits and how suddenly you stopped. Delirium tremens (DT) is a severe withdrawal symptom that affects 3 to 5 percent of detoxing drinkers. DT can be fatal if not treated. Its symptoms include extreme agitation, confusion, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures.

If you wish to detox from heavy alcohol usage, you need an alcohol detox program's safe environment. They can manage withdrawal symptoms to make your detox journey more comfortable.

The Importance of Medical Supervision during Alcohol Detox

Medical detox helps your body get rid of the harmful effects of alcohol in a controlled environment. A medical program gradually restores normal function while limiting undesirable effects.

Alcohol rehabilitation programs usually include:

  • Medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Psychological and behavioral support for underlying causes like stress
  • Physical exercise and nutritional support
  • Supervision by a medical team in case of complications or emergencies

Alcohol detox programs are usually inpatient programs to allow for continuous medical support.

Inpatient Alcohol Treatment

You need residential alcohol treatment if you have had many or severe detox symptoms. The level of care and management is tailored to your individual needs. The regimen considers your dependence, physical health, and other individual factors.

You will be admitted to a treatment center, and your progress will be monitored closely. This is to ensure that you detox safely and comfortably. Supplemental treatment programs may be recommended where necessary.

Why Medical Supervision for Alcohol Detox?

There are several reasons to choose inpatient detox with medical supervision, including:

  • Medical care – Medics can manage the risks of alcohol detox. You need extra support if you have severe physiological and psychological dependence. 
  • Environment – A controlled environment can help manage triggers and cravings. This is critical to setting your life on the recovery path.
  • Focus – The controlled environment allows patients to focus on treatment and recovery. It eliminates external influences and daily life stressors that may derail progress.
  • Support – Concurrent therapy programs can address the mental issues behind alcohol abuse.

The safest approach to quitting drinking is via a medically supervised detox program. Doctors, nurses, and therapists are available around the clock to care for you. You can get help for all of your symptoms. Medication is known to alleviate the problem for those who have trouble sleeping. To alleviate anxiety, anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed. Some medicines may help reduce alcohol cravings. 

The following are examples of drugs often used in a medically supervised detox program: 

When used with alcohol, disulfiram (Antabuse®) causes unpleasant side effects. The side effects of disulfiram include nausea, vomiting, headaches, sweating, and impaired vision as early as 10 minutes after consuming alcoholic beverages. The medication is a preventative measure for individuals who would instead not go through the discomfort. 

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers used for anxiety and some types of seizures. The benzodiazepines Librium and Valium are often used for alcohol withdrawal. Due to the potential for abuse, benzodiazepines are usually reserved for short-term usage.  

In addition to their intended use of seizure prevention, anti-seizure drugs may be given to treat anxiety disorders. They may be used in place of benzodiazepines due to their lower risk for abuse.  

To lessen the likelihood of relapse and develop recovery skills, entering an inpatient treatment facility immediately after detox is crucial.

What Happens After Medical Supervision for Alcohol Detox?

Detoxification is only the first step if you wish to recover from alcohol addiction. After detox, you should join a rehabilitation program to continue toward long-term sobriety. These programs deal with the root causes of alcohol abuse. You will learn how to prevent relapse when you face the same triggers or stressors that made you drink.

Alcohol Detoxification at Wish Recovery

At Wish Recovery, we believe in providing a safe environment for alcohol detox. We enroll our patients in ongoing counseling and support programs to support recovery. This puts you on the path to maintaining long-term sobriety.

Are you fighting alcohol detoxification for yourself or your loved one? Contact us today to find out how we can help you on your journey. Give yourself or your loved one another chance at a fulfilling and meaningful life.

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