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How To Detox From Alcohol

Estimated reading time: 33 minute(s)

When someone is addicted to alcohol, detoxing from alcohol or abstaining from drinking can be extremely hard. Alcohol detoxification occurs when an individual quits drinking and alcohol begins to leave his or her system.

Alcohol detoxification is the initial step in the treatment of alcoholism. During this period, all traces of alcohol are eliminated from the system. After beginning detox, symptoms of withdrawal normally subside between one to two weeks; but, this could take more time based on the seriousness of your Alcohol use disorder (AUD). You will then be able to concentrate on other areas of the recovery process, including different therapies, activities, support groups, and counseling sessions.

Some people are hesitant to stop drinking because they fear experiencing symptoms of withdrawal during alcohol detox. While some people may have relatively minimal symptoms from alcoholism, others may experience excruciating pain. 

Since withdrawal symptoms can alter rapidly and severely, it is essential to detox under the supervision of medical professionals. A rehabilitation center’s treatment staff will be able to assist you to control your pain with various medications. This enables you to concentrate on your healing and improve.

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Alcohol?

As soon as two hours after the last drink, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Although the most unpleasant or severe symptoms normally disappear within a week, certain moderate symptoms can last for weeks or even months. There is no specific timeline for withdrawal symptoms, but there is a rough framework of what to anticipate.

Here is a summary of the alcohol detoxification process:

Initial 6 to 12 hours

The first symptoms of alcohol detoxification are minor, but they can rapidly develop over time. Headaches, nausea, trembling or shaking, anxiety, and irritability are a few of the initial withdrawal symptoms.

Day One

As you reach the conclusion of the first twenty-four hours of detox, your symptoms may intensify. In addition to the side effects experienced within the first twelve hours, additional manifestations may include hand tremors, disorientation, and seizures.

Day Two

Comparable to the first entire day of detox, the second day will have the most unpleasant symptoms. As your body eliminates the alcohol from your system, hallucinations and panic episodes are common.

Three to Seven Days

Throughout your initial week in detox, various symptoms of withdrawal may fluctuate. During this time, you are also at the highest risk for life-threatening complications like delirium tremens.

After One Week

By the end of the first week of detoxification, many withdrawal effects will begin to diminish. Although some symptoms may remain for several weeks, the majority are minor and treatable with medicine.

Some individuals may develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) – extended withdrawal symptoms – even after the most severe withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Typically, these symptoms consist of anxiety, poor energy, sleeping difficulties, and delayed reflexes, and they can last anywhere from several months to a year.

The most unpleasant detox withdrawal symptoms often peak between 10 and 30 hours following the last drink and begin to subside around 40 and 50 hours later. While delirium tremens is uncommon, approximately 30 percent of individuals who experience delirium tremens will also develop aspiration pneumonia. A medically supervised withdrawal prevents serious problems, oversees the patient’s health, and alleviates painful withdrawal symptoms.

The Drugs Used During Alcohol Detox

When alcohol detox is provided at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, many drugs may be utilized to alleviate unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Medications can also help maintain a person’s body’s chemical equilibrium, so reducing the likelihood of severe problems. A medical expert will provide and monitor the effects of the medication used in alcohol rehab at a high-end rehab facility. If the drug begins to induce undesirable side effects or significantly interfere with the detoxification process, an alternative treatment might be provided.

The following drugs are typically used during the detoxification phase:

Benzodiazepines

During the alcohol detoxification phase, benzodiazepines (benzos) are most commonly used to relieve symptoms of withdrawal. They are given to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, and muscle spasms in addition to their ability to relax the central nervous system. The drug is available in both short- and long-acting formulations. Long-acting benzos are typically provided for three days or as needed. Diazepam (Valium) and chlordiazepoxide (Librium) are the most often used benzos in an inpatient rehabilitation setting.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings during the detoxification phase. In the case of a relapse, naltrexone inhibits the sense of intoxication that alcohol can produce. It is advised that you wait seven to ten days before using naltrexone, as the drug can trigger symptoms of withdrawal. It is available in tablet and injectable form. ReVia and Depade are the brand names for the tablet form of naltrexone, whereas Vivitrol is the brand name for the injectable form.

Acamprosate

Years of excessive drinking can drastically affect the structure and function of the brain. Acamprosate, marketed under the brand name Campral, is intended to help the brain resume normal function following alcohol cessation. In addition, researchers have begun examining whether acamprosate reduces PAWS symptoms such as sleeplessness, anxiety, and restlessness. Additionally, it reduces alcohol cravings; yet, alcohol consumption has no negative side effects.

Disulfiram

Disulfiram is another medicine utilized in the detox treatment of alcoholism. Disulfiram, unlike other drugs, functions by causing strong reactions when alcohol is ingested. If you consume alcohol while taking disulfiram, you may feel flushing of the face, nausea, headache, weakness, and low blood pressure. The negative consequences are intended to discourage continued alcohol consumption. Disulfiram is not intended to restore brain function or diminish alcohol cravings like other drugs.

How To Detox Naturally From Alcohol

Recovery from alcohol dependence can be difficult. Generally, it involves consistent assistance and several interventions. First, it is not advisable to rely solely on natural treatments for alcoholism, particularly when other drugs are involved. However, there are natural solutions to stop alcohol cravings.

Acupuncture

In conventional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to alleviate alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it is useful for anxiety and despair. According to researchers, inserting acupuncture needles into areas associated with alcohol-related behavior patterns can help reduce cravings. Nevertheless, the effect was weak, therefore it is vital to combine it with other therapies supported by scientific data.

Meditation

Symptoms of withdrawal are a part of the problem people face during alcohol detox. Anxiety, restlessness, and stress are frequently experienced during alcohol cleanses. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can reduce anxiety symptoms and potentially aid in relapse prevention. Meditation combined with other therapeutic methods makes the best detox from alcohol and is a highly effective treatment for alcohol detox, although results may vary by individual.

Herbal Remedies

Certain herbal medicines, like kudzu extract, can assist individuals in avoiding binge drinking and relapse. Kudzu increases blood alcohol levels more rapidly, causing intoxication to set in sooner. Despite contradictory research, it is recognized that kudzu can help limit the amount of alcohol consumed. Other herbal therapies include ashwagandha, which aids with alcohol withdrawal and alleviates anxiety. Importantly, additional scientific research is required to demonstrate that these therapies reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Tips For Alcohol Detoxification At Home

Individuals with minor to moderate alcoholism can detox at home. As long as withdrawal effects remain minimal, this is possible. However, those with moderate to severe addiction should seek expert help. Life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include convulsions, hallucinations, delirium tremens, and seizures. If you opt to detoxify from alcoholism at home, consider the suggestions below.

Plan Forward

Plan your alcohol detoxification process first. Between 6 to 72 hours are required for alcohol cleanses from the body. In certain situations, though, withdrawal effects can last weeks. Before detoxifying at home, ensure that all traces of alcohol and narcotics have been eradicated. Inform your support group about your detoxification plans.

Adopt a Healthful Diet

Vitamin and mineral deficits are common in people with alcohol use disorders. It is crucial to arrange a balanced diet for the duration of your detox. Included in the “alcohol detox diet” are:

Vegetables and fruits: Apples, raspberries, cucumbers, pears, tomatoes, and bananas are fruits and vegetables that can help prevent vomiting and nausea associated with alcohol withdrawal and reduce sugar cravings. 

Whole grains: Brown rice, oats, quinoa, and barley are Whole Grains. Whole grains are packed with fiber, which might alleviate cravings and mood swings. Additionally, they give ongoing energy.

Minerals and vitamins: A, D, and E Vitamins, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin and mineral-rich foods include milk, chicken, beef, lean fish, broccoli, and dark green vegetables.

Develop a Solid Support Network

A solid support system is among the most natural methods of alcohol detoxification. Surround yourself with family and friends who worry about your career and future and are ready to help you in remaining motivated during this process. This can help to detox from alcohol naturally. Continue your recovery journey by combining this assistance with peer support meetings for recovering alcoholics, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

Avoid Unhealthy Foods

It is also essential to avoid foods that can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms. Remove all sweets, treats, coffee, fatty meals, fast food, and sodas from your diet. These foods lack nutritional content and may cause you to feel melancholy or lethargic, hindering your detoxification efforts.

Benefits Of Medically-Supervised Detox Treatment

Due to the substantial hazards connected with alcohol self-detoxification, you should not undertake alcohol detoxification at home. Entering an outpatient or inpatient treatment program supervised by a team of healthcare professionals who can provide the necessary care is a much safer choice.

Among the advantages of medical detoxification are:

  • Medical remediation
  • Peer assistance
  • A secure and structured setting
  • Relapse prevention
  • Therapeutic stability
  • Additional support from family
  • Long-term therapy (aftercare)

You have various choices when it comes to choosing a detox facility:

Inpatient Residential Treatment: If you choose to detox alcohol from your body and undergo treatment for withdrawal symptoms at a high-end residential treatment facility or luxury inpatient treatment center, you will receive round-the-clock treatment from medical staff. Individuals who have been dependent on alcohol for an extended period of time or who have used high quantities of alcoholic beverages during their addiction are typically given inpatient treatment. A further advantage of inpatient treatment is that, if necessary, a physician can prescribe drugs to help control symptoms of withdrawal. In a nutshell, the best way to detox from alcohol is to enroll in a high-end residential treatment program for alcohol detox.

Outpatient Treatment: If your addiction is not severe, you have the option of outpatient treatment. Outpatient detox involves many visits to a treatment institution during detox. Most of the outpatient detox will be conducted at home. When you check into a treatment center, you may be provided drugs to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.

Resource References:

  1. Alcohol detox. Alcohol Rehab Guide. Available at: https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/treatment/alcohol-detox.
  2. Alcohol detox: How to Detox from alcohol safely at home. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. Available at: https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/alcohol-abuse/withdrawal-detox/safely-detox-alcohol-home.
  3. How to Detox from Alcohol Naturally & safely. Amethyst Recovery Center. Available at: https://www.amethystrecovery.org/how-to-detox-from-alcohol-naturally-safely.
  4. How long does it take to detox from alcohol? Timeline and more. Healthline Media. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/how-long-does-it-take-to-detox-from-alcohol.

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