Alcoholism can leave you feeling as though your life is being held hostage; that you’re utterly powerless over your dependence. So much so, that you continue drinking in order to avoid the unpleasant and potentially fatal withdrawal period. The detoxification process is your body’s natural way of ridding itself of waste and toxins such as alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms are a byproduct of this.
Detox and withdrawal are important parts of the recovery journey, however, if attempted independently or done incorrectly the effects can be life-threatening. Alcohol withdrawal should be managed in a registered rehab clinic under medical supervision.
What Does Detox Mean?
Detox, or detoxification, is the cleansing of toxins from the body. If you’ve been drinking heavily for a long time, you are more likely to experience negative side effects or withdrawal symptoms during detox. It’s never recommended to attempt to detox unsupervised because of the physical and psychological risks involved. When mixed with alcohol, certain drugs like benzos, can be potentially lethal. There are many outpatient and in-patient facilities that can assist with this process and offer round-the-clock care.
Alcohol detox is merely the beginning of overcoming alcohol addiction. It’s important that your system be cleared of any alcohol or substances before addressing the psychological aspect of your addiction. Detoxing rids the body of toxins, allowing you to move forward and pursue a psychological treatment programme, whether at an inpatient or outpatient facility or treatment centre.
The Dangers of Detoxing Independently
Many people attempt to detox ‘cold-turkey’. This involves complete cessation of heroin and other substances. The process can be agonising and for long-term alcohol abusers, detoxing ‘cold turkey’ is extremely dangerous and sometimes even fatal.
Some of the more severe side effects you may experience include:
- Aspiration pneumonia
- Heart arrhythmia
- Kidney or liver dysfunction
- Intense cravings
- Sudden death
It’s always recommended that you seek medical attention for an alcohol detox to alleviate these side effects.
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?
Detoxing from alcohol can take anywhere between 3-7 days, depending on the following:
- How much alcohol the person has been drinking
- How long they have been drinking for
- The condition of their overall mental and physical health
What Does Withdrawal Mean?
When someone suffers with alcoholism and stops drinking suddenly, they usually experience withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is a collection of symptoms that you might experience as a result of detoxification. This occurs because your body has become so accustomed to drinking large quantities of alcohol, and the sudden absence of it becomes a shock to your system. The symptoms of withdrawal can be mild to life-threatening. The uncomfortable and distressing nature of these symptoms are commonly known to people who drink excessively and in order to avoid withdrawal, many people suffering from alcoholism find it a major obstacle in overcoming their addiction.
What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
Not every individual suffering from alcohol addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms experienced will be different for everyone. For some, this stage is deeply unpleasant and unfortunately drives many people back to alcohol just to escape the withdrawal symptoms. For other individuals, the symptoms may be quite mild. Alcohol withdrawal needs to be managed by trained professionals. Do not attempt to stop taking alcohol without the appropriate supervision.
The most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Severe Dehydration
- Heart palpitations
- Increased blood pressure
How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
The timeline for how long withdrawal symptoms last will differ for everyone. For some, the symptoms may last a few days, for others, it could last months in varying degrees of extremity. Most withdrawal symptoms begin a few hours after your last drink; especially if your system is used to a certain amount of alcohol. The most intense days are generally days two or three.
What Are The Various Stages Of Withdrawal?
As previously stated, this will be different for everyone. There is no “one size fits all”. The commonly known stages of withdrawal are as follows:
6 – 12 Hours: The genesis of the detoxification process and some withdrawal symptoms. You may experience symptoms such as sweating, nausea and irritability. This is the stage where withdrawal-induced insomnia and tremors in the body may begin. Your blood pressure will rise and your heartbeat will accelerate.
24 – 48 Hours: Withdrawal symptoms are known to increase and intensify during this period. In severe cases, seizures, delirium tremens, also referred to at the DT’s, and hallucinations may begin to occur.
3 – 5 Days: Depending on the individual and their drinking, your physical symptoms may begin to decrease in intensity and even subside at this stage. The emotional distress and delirium tremens may, however, continue.
5 Days and Onwards: By this stage, the physical symptoms will decrease. The psychological symptoms of an alcohol addiction often persist. A person may experience anxiety, irritability and insomnia for weeks or even months after the body is completely detoxed.
Rehabilitation at CATCH Recovery
You should never attempt to detox alone. CATCH provides referrals to our partner detox facilities. If you’re looking to begin your journey to sobriety, contact our rehab in London to find out more about the addiction treatment we provide.
At CATCH Recovery, we offer outpatient treatment for your addiction. If you want to be free from alcohol addiction but are unsure of your next steps, our admissions team can offer you further help and support. Our South West London clinic offers free addiction screenings, outpatient therapy options and a bespoke aftercare service once you complete treatment.
If you’re struggling but don’t live in the South of England, you may benefit from the tele-health services we offer. Tele-health allows our clients to receive help and support for alcohol or drug addiction remotely on platforms such as Zoom, Skype or Teams.
If you require residential rehab, we also provide referrals to rehabs in the UK and Ireland. Call us today to discuss the different options that are available.