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Finding an Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment Center


What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment?
The majority of alcohol detox centers are inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient centers provide the most comprehensive care. Common symptoms during detox include anxiety, tremors, nausea, and cravings. Treatment includes medications, medical monitoring, and therapy. Severe symptoms can include seizures and delirium tremens.

Withdrawing from alcohol is a daunting task, and may be one of the most frightening and overwhelming experiences in your life.

The symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal can be moderate or severe and life threatening, and should be undertaken with professionals experienced in this field.  However, with the right combination of therapies in place, long-term recovery is within reach.  Alcohol withdrawal may be difficult, but sobriety is worth it.

During alcohol withdrawal, the adjustment the body and mind experience is profound.  The central nervous system of an alcoholic has grown used to overcompensating for the depressive nature of alcohol by continually working in a hyperactive state.  Once alcohol is no longer active in the bloodstream, the brain still remains in this state of overcompensation but with no drug (alcohol) to counterbalance it.  This can cause erratic feelings, behaviors and physical symptoms; your brain needs time to adjust to maintaining itself without outside influences.   In addition, as people metabolize alcohol at different rates, some may experience withdrawal symptoms faster and more severely than others.

Effects of Specific Types of Alcohol Detox

There are many different techniques for alcohol detox, depending on the severity of the problem and the success of past detox efforts.  The most common types of detoxification are inpatient, outpatient, and drug therapy.

For the most severe symptoms, you will stay in an inpatient detox facility for a minimum of five days, although this can be extended to 10 days, depending on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.  During this time, you may have access to psychological counseling, medical doctors, and group counseling to assist with the emotional symptoms of withdrawal.  Inpatient rehabilitation centers manage all aspects of a patient’s life during the withdrawal process, including doctors’ appointments, counseling, and prescription drug assistance.  Generally, top exclusive inpatient alcohol withdrawal treatment facilities are very successful in managing withdrawal symptoms, as well as providing therapy that can help to ensure long-term recovery.

You may also benefit from prescription drug treatment, and doctors often prescribe lorazepam and clonazepam to reduce depression, anxiety, and other alcohol withdrawal symptoms like shaking.  These drugs may decrease cravings for alcohol as well, helping you through the worst of the withdrawal process.  However, both of these drugs are addictive, so take care to follow directions closely and only take them under the supervision of a qualified doctor or psychiatrist.

Questions to Ask a Detox Facility

Choosing the right facility for the alcohol withdrawal process can be difficult.  Finding the perfect place for you to safely and successfully withdraw from alcohol requires research.  Following are some questions to ask potential facilities:

  • How long is a typical patient in your program?
  • How are patients prepared for the detox process?
  • Are you accredited?
  • Do you have immediate openings?
  • What are post-withdrawal options for long-term treatment?
  • Are you connected to a particular hospital for management of withdrawal symptoms?

Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

Most alcoholics who undergo treatment experience similar symptoms while withdrawing.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

Treatment of moderate symptoms can be accomplished via outpatient therapy, counseling and drug therapies.  Patients must address their triggers – situations that prompt them to drink – and often therapy consists of unearthing issues behind the alcoholism, effects it has had on their lives, future planning, and changes that need to be made to avoid triggers that can lead to a relapse.  Often therapy includes practicing for situations that could potentially lead to a relapse and learning methods to handle ongoing family issues that have arisen from alcoholism.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

For patients facing a potentially severe withdrawal experience, the symptoms can become far more serious.  Severe alcoholics – defined as those who drink to inebriation each day or binge drink on a regular basis – may undergo frightening, painful and possibly life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.  These symptoms include:

  • Convulsions
  • Severe headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Increased heart rate
According the article Treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal, the most severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens, or DTs, which occurs in around 5 percent of all patients.

Symptoms of delirium tremens include severe agitation, persistent hallucinations, and large changes or swings in blood pressure and heart rate.  Patients may also have difficulty breathing, and may exhibit stroke-like symptoms.  Severe alcohol withdrawal should be overseen by a doctor who can manage these symptoms effectively, reducing any danger to the patient, as well as decreasing their discomfort.

For both moderate and severe alcohol withdrawal, therapies address both the physical and the emotional issues of alcoholism, as well as provide long-term counseling for ongoing issues.  This method of handling the social, emotional and physical aspects of alcohol use is crucial in recovery that lasts a lifetime.  The most severe withdrawal symptoms last four to six days, and are often effectively managed by medical professionals who specialize in alcohol detox.

How Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Treated?

As the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be wide-ranging, communication within your team of professionals is crucial.  This group, including a medical doctor, therapist and withdrawal counselor, will address both the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, with a focus on providing relief to you and giving them a roadmap for future treatment plans. While withdrawal symptoms can seem intimidating, putting yourself in the care of qualified professionals can ease the burden considerably.

Physical symptoms are managed with a variety of therapies, including prescription anti-anxiety drugs, exercise, and nutrition counseling to address any vitamin deficiencies.

As reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol abusers benefit from increased hydration and vitamin therapy while undergoing withdrawal, as these are often areas of ongoing neglect.  To give your body additional support for a healthy withdrawal process, your doctors may address dental health, heart and lung condition, and muscle strength.  Long-term alcoholics with ongoing liver issues may need the assistance of a nephrologist with specific experience in supporting healthy liver function during withdrawal.

To treat severe physical withdrawal symptoms you may be having, including DTs, withdrawal during pregnancy, and seizures related to alcohol withdrawal, a family of drugs called benzodiazepines can assist.  Benzodiazepines can be extremely effective if use is monitored by an experienced professional. Slightly different versions of this drug can pinpoint specific issues during withdrawal, such as seizures, blood pressure increases, and hallucinations.  These drugs have side effects, however, so the risks should be considered before treatment takes place.

The management of the strong emotional reaction to withdrawal can define the success of your treatment program.

Having a trained professional help you in handling emotional withdrawal symptoms, including anger, depression, and a strong desire to drink, will benefit you both in the immediate phase of treatment as well as in long-term sobriety.  Treatment of emotional withdrawal symptoms can include individual counseling, drug therapy, and group psychotherapy sessions.  Rehabilitation for emotional withdrawal symptoms last far longer than that for physical withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Treatment in a Nutshell

Treatment of withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • A team of professionals to address your individual needs
  • Medical intervention to address physical withdrawal symptoms, providing pain relief and monitoring potentially dangerous issues that may arise
  • Psychological therapy to manage emotional symptoms during withdrawal
  • Inpatient detox for first week of withdrawal, when symptoms are most severe

Looking to the Future

When faced with going through withdrawal from alcohol, it is difficult to look past the immediate discomfort, fear, and emotional toll you may be expecting.  Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be painful and frightening; however, they are a crucial step on the road to sobriety for life.  With a strong team of experienced professionals, your symptoms can be managed and relief is often within reach.  As difficult as withdrawal is, entering a structured rehabilitation program is an essential first step. 

With the help of medical and psychological professionals, you can survive the worst of the detoxification experience, manage your symptoms, and move into a new phase of your life.

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