Coping with alcoholism is both problematic and dangerous for the chronic drinker. Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal symptoms often pose an entirely new set of potential risks for the addict. Going to a detox center becomes a pivotal first step in the healing process to keep the individual safe during this difficult time.
What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?
When an individual drinks regularly or for a prolonged period the body becomes accustomed to the alcohol and the subsequent intoxication that occurs. The more the individual drinks, the higher the chance for alcohol withdrawal when the drinking ceases. For individuals who drink excessive amounts of alcohol or who have been drinking for a number of years, alcohol withdrawal can lead to serious medical side effects including potentially deadly symptoms.
Signs of Alcohol Withdrawal
Various signs and symptoms of withdrawal may present when an individual quits drinking. Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Shakiness and tremors
- Irritability and anger
- Mood swings
- Inability to focus or to think clearly
- Muscle aches
- Inability to sleep
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upset stomach
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Cold, clammy skin
- Shaky hands
- Tremors throughout the body
What About Serious Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?
In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can lead to serious symptoms that may result in severe health consequences. Delirium Tremens is a diagnosis that occurs in some individuals who are going through the most severe instances of withdrawal from alcohol. Symptoms of Delirium Tremens include:
- Severe agitation
- High fever or a spike in fever
- Hallucinations both auditory and visual
It’s important to seek the help of a medical detox center if you or someone you love suffers from any of the symptoms of delirium tremens or if you suffer from any potentially dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when you try to quit drinking. Detox will be the first step that you take to ensure your safety and health during the early phases of alcohol addiction recovery. Here you will learn how to cope with your symptoms of withdrawal and you will begin to heal.
What is the Goal of Detox?
The primary goal of alcohol detox is to help you stabilize in preparation for continued treatment in a rehabilitation facility. During detox you will receive support and medical treatment that helps to:
- Reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
- Reduce further complications that can result during withdrawal.
- Reduce further complications that have resulted from continued alcohol abuse.
- Provide therapy and assistance to aid in the continued abstinence from alcohol use.
Types of Alcohol Detox
You will likely attend a medical detox center for the early phase of your recovery but this is not the only type of alcohol detox that is available to assist those who require treatment. Alcohol detox options include:
- Medical detox in a controlled, hospital-like facility.
- Outpatient detox on a case-by-case, as-needed basis which takes place at home with limited medical treatment involved.
- Residential detox takes place in a treatment center under the control of a medical team and treatment staff.
Which Type of Detox is Right for Me?
There’s no doubt that if you suffer from serious symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when you quit drinking then you need alcohol detox—but you may be wondering what type of detox you need. Choosing the best alcohol detox program for your individual needs will help to ensure your success in treatment. Here’s how to make that decision:
- Consider the cost of treatment – residential and medical treatment is more costly than outpatient treatment.
- Consider your individual needs – residential and medical treatment is reserved for those who have serious side effects during withdrawal and who require around-the-clock care.
- Consider your support system – outpatient treatment can help if you have strong support at home but, if you don’t have that support at home, residential treatment may be required even when minimal withdrawal symptoms occur.
- Consider your health – if you have relapsed, or if you have experienced symptoms of withdrawal in the past which were dangerous, you should consider residential or medical alcohol detox.
Our team of medical experts, addiction specialists, and writers at Addictions.com have been working together for decades to help reduce the stigma surrounding substance use disorders.
Our mission is to help individuals and families facing addiction find the treatment they need.