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Addiction Behavior Lifestyle

What Is Alcohol Detoxification?

7 months ago

5893  0
Posted on May 03, 2021, 8 p.m.

One of the most commonly used addictive substances is Alcohol. According to NSDUH, 14.5 million people aged 12 and above have (Alcohol Use Disorder/ Alcoholism) in the USA. Around 95000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually that are preventable.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder - inability to control alcohol use; as a result of physical and emotional dependence.

Whether you or someone close to you suffering from alcohol addiction. The first step to recovery is looking for alcohol rehab centers near you. Nowadays, there are so many rehab centers everywhere, and there is no reason why you should not get the help you deserve.

 Even to this date, there is so much stigma around rehabs. People feel ashamed about what others might think, which should not be the case. Your life is more important than what others would think. 

We cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. Sadly, this is the case with most Alcohol Addicts. They do not want the help or are in denial till it is too late. And if you’ve decided to take control of your life, this is the 1st victory in many to come.  

What is Alcohol Detoxification?

The first step in treating alcoholism is detoxification. During Alcohol Detoxification, ethanol is flushed by cessation of alcohol intake and is accompanied by medications under medical observation.

And when a person who has been drinking too much regularly; stops alcohol intake, he/she starts having Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms.

These symptoms can be nausea, tremors, anxiety, insomnia, depression, hypertension, sweating, hallucination, seizures, disorientation

Delirium tremens is also one of the very uncommon side effects, as less than 5% of people have this side effect. It is not advisable to do an Alcohol Detox at home as it is dangerous and can lead to death. And should only be done under medical observation

The medical team can track heart rate and blood pressure and provide proper medication if anything 

What is Alcohol Detoxification?

The first step in treating alcoholism is detoxification. During Alcohol Detoxification, ethanol is flushed by cessation of alcohol intake and is accompanied by medications under medical observation.

And when a person who has been drinking too much regularly; stops alcohol intake, he/she starts having Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms.

These symptoms can be nausea, tremors, anxiety, insomnia, depression, hypertension, sweating, hallucination, seizures, disorientation

Delirium tremens is also one of the very uncommon side effects, as less than 5% of people have this side effect. It is not advisable to do an Alcohol Detox at home as it is dangerous and can lead to death. And should only be done under medical observation

The medical team can track heart rate and blood pressure and provide proper medication if anything 

Doctors use a scale called Clinical Institute for Withdrawal assessment for Alcohol to assess a person’s withdrawal symptoms. The higher the number more treatments you will need. A lower number means fewer treatments are required. You might also not need any medications.  

If someone is a long-time and heavy drinker, chances are there will be more negative effects. That means more withdrawal symptoms and more treatments.

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol influences our gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that slows down brain functioning (decreased heart rate and breathing). Which further slows down the brain and neural activity. Generally, GABA and Glutamate (excitatory neurotransmitter) are in equilibrium.

In an addict, the brain has become used to the intoxication in the body all the time. And it has adjusted according to the ethanol/alcohol in the body. His/her GABA receptors decrease over time. And the brain overproduces glutamate to maintain equilibrium between GABA and Glutamate.

So, when suddenly alcohol consumption is ceased, GABA receptors are reduced (because now the brain is dependent on drink for its production) while glutamate levels increase, creating imbalance. These increased levels of glutamate cause withdrawal symptoms. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms from the severity

Initially, the symptoms are mild, but as time passes through, they get worse. Here is the Clinical description of alcohol withdrawal syndrome by severity

Minor Withdrawal 

  •       Tremors, sweating, tachycardia, Gastrointestinal upset, headache, anxiety - Usually starts about 6 hours after stopping alcohol intake that can last up to 24-48 hours.

Moderate to Severe Withdrawal

  •       Alcoholic hallucinosis (Hallucinations) – Lasts 24 hours to 6 days. 
  •       Alcohol Withdrawal Seizure – Begins within 6 to 48 hours after the last drink (Multiple seizures can occur within 6 hours and can lead to DT) 
  •       DT (Tremors, sweating, tachycardia, anxiety, disorientation, illusion, agitation) - Begins 48-72 hours after the last drink and may last up to 2 weeks.

Medications Used in the Treatment

  •       Benzodiazepine medicine helps in seizures during withdrawals. One of the most common causes of fatality in these cases is a seizure.

While Benzodiazepines are considered powerful and effective in treating different symptoms of withdrawal can be highly addictive and only consumed in the recommended amount. Some of the Benzodiazepine medicines are Ativan, Valium, Serax.

  •       Neuroleptic medicines also help with preventing seizures and agitation during withdrawals. 
  •       Nutritional Medicines help in nutritional deficiency caused by long-term alcohol consumption.

Given below are some medications to stop the person from drinking again.

  •       Disulfiram is used to curb alcohol cravings. And can make a person feel ill if they drink while taking this medication. For example, if you drink while on this medication, you can have drawbacks like - headache, nausea, low bp, weakness. These severe reactions help in staying away from drinking.
  •       Topiramate helps in extending the period of abstinence from liquor.
  •       Naltrexone helps in reducing alcohol cravings by blocking opioid receptors in the body. In case of relapse, it suppresses the high feeling caused by drinking.

Along with these medications, people also join counseling and group therapies.

What Happens During Alcohol Detox?

  •       Medical assessment - is done to see what kind of medical support will be needed, according to your individual needs. It includes blood tests, health and addiction history, and other tests to check your mental and physical health.
  •         Medication support - Medicines for withdrawal symptoms. Regular checkups for Blood pressure, heart rate to keep everything stable.
  •         Detox programs typically last up to 8-10 days. It differs from person to person and depends on other factors also. As we all know, detox is only the first step people join group therapies and counseling to get over the addiction after detox.

 

Conclusion

Seeking alcoholism treatment is a big first step towards recovery. Looking for rehab centers should not be taken lightly. Do proper research and find out the levels of care offered by them. Do they have any accreditations/licenses? Are there any specialized groups (gender-specific groups, LGBTQ), and what type of aftercare they provide? These are some of the questions that you should ask them.

This article was written by Alexandra Doherty, who is a blogger and health advocate. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Materials provided by:

Content may be edited for style and length

https://elev8treatment.com/blog/

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-in/professional/multimedia/clinical-calculator/ciwa-ar-clinical-institute-withdrawal-assessment-for-alcohol-scale

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4085800/

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/overcoming-alcohol-addiction.htm

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help

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