Alcohol detoxification is defined as the abrupt stopping of alcohol intake together with the replacing of alcohol with cross-tolerant drugs. Detoxing (drying out) is expelling the alcohol from the body while controlling the withdrawals in a safe way. It is the first step in overcoming a drug addiction. It is a very intense and unpleasant programme and also one of the most dangerous. Physical and emotional symptoms can be caused from abruptly stopping alcohol. Physical symptoms are convulsions, sweats, shaking, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, sleeplessness, abdominal, headaches, restlessness, loss of appetite, hyperactivity and cramps. Mental and emotional symptoms are confusion, agitation, depression, anxiety, behavioural changes and Delirium Tremens (DTs). Delirium Tremens is one of the worst withdrawal symptoms, which are characterised by the appearance of altered sensorium or a total hallucination without any acknowledgment to the actual world. During this intense treatment, drugs called Klonepin and Buprenophex may be administered to ease the withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms is why so many with the addiction do not try to overcome it, they drink to keep from having the withdrawals, thus adding to the addiction.
To accomplish a successful detoxification there are several factors that are key. One has to acknowledge there is a problem and sincerely want to do something about it. If the addicted person does not believe they are alcoholic and do not feel there is a reason to detox, then they will not try. They will have to rid their home and surroundings of any and all of the offending drink, shot glasses or anything else that was used during the consumption of the offending drug. The hardest thing for the alcoholic to do is drop their friends and others that they associated with while drinking. They should seek a support from their spouse and family members and non-drinking friends. Be prepared for the symptoms by seeking support from a physician or psychologist. This is especially imperative if stabilising drugs are used because another replaces most addictions.
Detoxing is not an overnight cure. Due to the severities of the withdrawals, it is a long-term process. Usually hospitalisation is done during the worst of the crisis. During this time, counselling and classes are required to teach the alcoholic how to handle the addiction. After release from the hospital the counselling still continues. The alcoholic is then recommended to go to AA meetings for group support. Alcohol detoxification is an on going process. Temptations can arise many years down the road and that is when the benefits of the counselling and support groups come in. Alcohol addiction is one of the deadliest drugs to detox from especially if someone tries to go “cold turkey”. Never attempt to stop on your own. Always seek professional help! Sober Services have their own Medical Director and Medical team for this purpose.