The First Steps in Recovery from Alcohol Addiction
Long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to both a physiological and physical dependence and where physical dependence is present, a detoxification process will be required. The necessity of a medical detox will depend upon an individual’s age, medical condition and their history of alcohol consumption.
What is Alcohol Detox?
An alcohol detoxification process is defined as a medical intervention that helps a patient to navigate safely through the process of withdrawal after the cessation of alcohol consumption. Not all clients who come to us for alcohol rehab will require detox as it depends on the severity of each client’s personal situation.
Alcohol Addiction vs. Alcohol Dependence
Many people confuse alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence, or even think they are the same thing. However, only alcohol dependence requires a detoxification prior to treatment.
Alcohol addiction is primarily a physiological issue in which the brain’s reward system has been altered into a state in which it craves alcohol almost incessantly. Alcohol dependence is a step above, where it is not just cravings, but a physical dependence on alcohol. Excessive drinking over an extended period of time causes certain neurotransmitters to be suppressed. When alcohol consumption is suddenly stopped, the neurotransmitters bounce back, acting as if they are in overdrive in a phenomenon known as brain hyperexcitability and can cause serious, life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
What are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms can include trembling, sweating and cravings for alcohol. In more severe cases, seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) can occur. The symptoms of DTs include marked tremors (the shakes) and delirium (confusion, a state of agitation and auditory and visual hallucinations) and can, in some cases, result in death.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can increase in severity quite quickly, going from the shakes to a full blown seizure in a matter of hours, which is why it is important to have a medically supervised dependency detox available for those who are physically dependent on alcohol.
What to Expect during Detox
During the first few hours of treatment, the most common symptoms will be that of intense cravings. Some may experience excessive changes in mood and blood pressure, physical sickness including sweating or a mild-fever and ‘the shakes’. These can start as early as a few hours after taking your last drink.
As the detox progresses, symptoms become more severe and can become life threatening if not under the care of a medical professional. After 48 hours, the symptoms often start to decrease as normal body function begins to take over once again. In extreme cases, however, symptoms may continue to worsen over the next few days.
Each of our clients undergoing a detox program will suffer different reactions depending upon their own situation. Other symptoms may include anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations and impaired mood.
All detoxification programs at the Cabin Chiang Mai are supervised by our round-the-clock medical team.
How Do You Know if Detox is Required?
Upon arriving at The Cabin Chiang Mai our on-site medical staff and clinical team will meet with you one-on-one for an assessment. This meeting will dictate whether or not you require a withdrawal period before beginning the treatment programme.
Is Medication Required during Withdrawal Treatment?
During the first few days without alcohol, an alcoholic is likely to experience a number of both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms as brain and body functions need time to readjust to functioning without alcohol present. And, as described above, the adjustment process can lead to various symptoms.
A key component of detoxification is ‘stabilization’. This term covers all the medical and psychological interactions that occur in an effort to help the client come to a place of physical and psychological balance. Medication that has a similar effect to alcohol may be prescribed in order to regulate the symptoms of withdrawal. This medication would be tapered off gradually during the detox program – it is not a long-term medication.
Is Rehabilitation included in my Treatment Programme?
For those clients who require a medically supervised alcohol detox, yes – it is included in your admission to our comprehensive and effective programme.
How Long Does it Take to Detox from Alcohol?
As mentioned earlier, alcohol withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone, and thus a preventative abstention can take upwards of a week for some. However, with careful medical observation and the use of medication, alcohol detoxification is usually just a couple of days.
Why Continuing Treatment is Important
Detoxification is an important step to help aid recovery for those dependent on alcohol. It is important to keep an alcoholic safe from life-threatening symptoms while the body and brain learns to once again function without alcohol.
However, it is only the very first step, and what comes after detox is incredibly important. It is during a full alcohol addiction treatment programme where our clients are able to learn recovery tools and coping skills to stay away from alcohol in the future. In most cases, there are underlying issues within a person that helped exacerbate the addiction such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and abuse among others. In many cases, alcoholics begin drinking to forget about problems in life or self-medicate for underlying disorders which is, of course, not a healthy coping mechanism.
Instead, The Cabin uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the 12 Steps, mindfulness meditation and more to teach our clients healthy ways to cope with life and stress in a manner that does not include substance abuse. Detoxing alone is not enough to get and stay sober.
Get Help Now!
The sooner you get help, the higher the chances are of a complete recovery. Contact us today to have a no obligations assessment and see how we can help you. Fill out the short form on the top right of this page to start your journey to recovery now. Alternatively, give us a call on one of our toll-free numbers which you can find on our contact page.