man chained to alcohol

The Dangers of Detoxing From Alcohol

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.

For those people who drink alcohol on a regular and excessive basis, over a period of time they will develop a dependence to the drug and even an addiction to alcohol. When they decide to quit drinking, they will experience a series of physical and psychological symptoms that are associated with withdrawal. When these symptoms occur, a person’s first instinct is to try and ride out these symptoms on their own. While quitting cold turkey or utilizing other self-detoxification remedies may seem like a logical idea, alcohol detoxification is serious, and the withdrawal symptoms that are encountered have the potential to be life-threatening.

The dangers of detoxing from alcohol require professional help and supervision from a reputable alcohol detox facility or drug treatment center. If you or a loved one desire to quit alcohol once and for all, it is extremely important that you understand the symptoms and possible dangers of withdrawal. It is also extremely important to realize the important role of alcohol detox in your recovery. If you are looking for alcohol detox programs that are safe, effective and proven to work, call SoCal Detox toll-free right now and learn more about our detox programs.

What are the Immediate Dangers of Detoxing from Alcohol?

man detoxing from alcohol

The onset of alcohol detox symptoms often occur with six to 12 hours after a person stops drinking. The timing of these symptoms is highly dependent on a number of factors such as the length of time and frequency of an individual’s drinking, the amount of alcohol consumed, the presence of other illicit drugs in a person’s system, and any underlying health conditions. Oftentimes, people who start the process of withdrawal will still have a measurable blood alcohol level which may require additional and immediate medical care. These initial symptoms can include the following:

  • Shaky hands
  • Profuse sweating
  • Mild anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

After this initial wave of withdrawal symptoms, those who are detoxing from alcohol will experience a second wave of withdrawal symptoms that usually start between 12 and 24 hours since an individual’s last drink. These symptoms are more severe and dangerous and can include visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations. Known as alcoholic halluncinosis, these hallucinations are vivid but people who are experiencing them know they aren’t real.

What is Delirium Tremens?

The most dangerous part of alcohol detox occurs between 48 and 72 hours after someone stops drinking. This is the period when a set of symptoms called delirium tremens can appear. Often called “DT’s”, delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. This condition can also be caused by infection, head injury or illness in those people with a history of heavy alcohol use. It is estimated that half of all alcoholics who undergo detox will experience this condition.

During this period withdrawal symptoms dramatically increase in intensity and the severity of these symptoms can be extremely dangerous. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Body tremors
  • Changes in mental functioning
  • Extreme agitation and irritability
  • Confusion
  • Decreased attention span
  • Deep sleep that lasts for a day or longer
  • Delirium
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Hallucinations (seeing or feeling things that are not really there)
  • Restlessness, excitement
  • Fatigue

Perhaps the scariest symptom associated with delirium tremens is the onset of seizures. These seizures are known as tonic-clonic seizures and it involves the entire body. For those who experience tonic-clonic seizures as a result of detoxing from alcohol, it usually starts with the muscles becoming extremely rigid then followed by violent contractions and often a loss of consciousness. Once a seizure is over, people may experience amnesia, have significant confusion, have headaches and may feel weak on one side of the body which can last anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours.

The symptoms of delirium tremens usually peak at 5 days after the last drink and can last for up to 10 days after a person quits drinking alcohol. It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of those who have chronic alcoholism will develop this condition in their lifetime with 5 percent actually developing the condition. It is very important to note that if a person does develop delirium tremens during the alcohol detox process, the mortality rate ranges from 5 to 25 percent. This is why seeking professional medical help is of utmost importance.

The Importance of Medical Detoxification

The dangers of detoxing from alcohol can be extremely high and dangerous to one’s health. To effectively break the vicious cycle of alcohol addiction is a safe manner, successfully completing a medical detoxification program is an essential first step on the road to long-term recovery. During the detox process, the body can naturally rid itself of the toxins that have built up in an environment which is safe, secure and supervised around the clock.

In many cases, people are given medications to help minimize the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and can make the process more tolerable. Examples of medications used include benzodiazpines such as Librium and Klonopin. It is important to note these medications are carefully administered by experienced treatment staff. During the alcohol detox process, treatment staff will also conduct a comprehensive medical and mental health evaluation to diagnose any co-occurring disorders which can impede a person’s recovery.

Co-occurring disorders are common in people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are common diagnoses with people who have alcohol addiction. In the event that some is diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder, staff will include the appropriate interventions into a person’s individual treatment and recovery plan. Once a person is substance-free and stable, they can transition into intensive formal drug treatment.

Alcohol Detox Can Save Your Life

The dangers of detoxing from alcohol are very real and very dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, medical detoxification is an absolute must. SoCal Detox has help countless alcoholics regain their health, allowing them to fully recover. Our programs are safe, effective, and administered by experienced and compassionate staff. Don’t wait another day; call SoCal Detox toll-free and take your first step towards freedom.

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