Detoxing from Alcohol – What to Know

 In addiction, alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, alcoholism

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

One of the clearest signs of alcohol dependency is experiencing alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is the changes the body goes through after a person suddenly stops drinking after prolonged and heavy alcohol use when detoxing from alcohol. Over time, both the body and the brain become dependent on drinking frequency and patterns. When you abruptly stop drinking, your body is deprived of the effects of alcohol and requires time to adjust to functioning without it. This adjustment period causes the painful side effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as shakes, insomnia, nausea, and anxiety.

What to Know Detoxing from Alcohol

Withdrawal and Detoxing from Alcohol

Alcohol withdrawal, especially if you’ve been drinking heavily over a long period of time, can be dangerous and even deadly without the right treatment. Alcohol withdrawal, especially if you’ve been drinking heavily over a long period of time, can be dangerous and even deadly without the right treatment. When a person has a physiological dependence on alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced after they significantly reduce or stop drinking can be extremely distressing and uncomfortable, and people commonly return to drinking alcohol as a way of relieving their discomfort.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. This causes feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Because the body usually works to maintain balance, it will signal the brain to make more neurotransmitter receptors that excite or stimulate the central nervous system.

What Triggers Alcohol Withdrawal?

When you stop drinking, you take away alcohol not only from the receptors you originally had but also from the additional receptors your body made. As a result, your nervous system is overactive. Whether or not you go through withdrawal when you stop drinking depends on many different factors. These include how much you usually drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and any other health conditions you have. In general, if you’ve been drinking heavily over a long period of time, you’re more likely to experience withdrawal when you stop.

Signs and symptoms of the various stages of alcohol withdrawal may include:

  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • tremors or shakes
  • insomnia
  • fatigue
  • mood changes
  • gastrointestinal disturbances
  • heart palpitations
  • increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • hyperthermia
  • rapid abnormal breathing
  • hallucinations
  • seizures

Detoxing from Alcohol – How Long Does it Take? 

If you make the decision to stop drinking daily and heavily, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. The time it takes to detox depends on a few factors, including how much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and whether you’ve experienced alcohol withdrawal before. Most people stop having withdrawal symptoms four to five days after their last drink.

Detox Treatment Options

To assess a person’s withdrawal symptoms and recommend treatments, doctors often use a scale called the Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol. The higher the number, the worse a person’s symptoms are and the more treatments they likely need. You may not need any medications for alcohol withdrawal. You can still pursue therapy and support groups as you go through withdrawal.

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Little Creek Recovery Alcohol Treatment Center

Little Creek Lodge provides comprehensive clinical and holistic therapies to help treat alcohol addiction. If your loved one is suffering from alcoholism, let our Little Creek family help your family. 

​​Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient alcohol addiction treatment is alcohol treatment that requires patients to live in a rehab facility while receiving 24/7 care and supervision. This form of addiction treatment is for people with severe addictions. 

Individuals that are looking to attend inpatient treatment for alcoholism can attend standard inpatient treatment or residential inpatient treatment. The main difference between these two forms of inpatient treatment is that standard inpatient treatment is more structured than residential inpatient treatment. Thus, individuals attending residential treatment receive more free time to themselves. Residential inpatient treatment patients also receive more time to partake in holistic forms of addiction treatment. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient addiction treatment programs don’t require patients to live in rehab facilities while receiving care. This means that outpatient addiction treatment patients can live in their own homes in between rehab sessions. 

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) Treatment

There are three types of outpatient treatment for alcoholism. The most intense one is partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment. PHP addiction treatment requires patients to attend rehab for five to eight hours a day, five to seven days a week. PHP treatment is usually for patients with moderate to severe addictions.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Treatment

The second most intense form of outpatient addiction treatment is intensive outpatient program (IOP) treatment. IOP treatment requires patients to attend rehab for a few hours a day, a few days a week. IOP treatment is typically for people with moderate addictions.

Outpatient Program (OP) Treatment

The least intense form of outpatient addiction treatment is the standard outpatient program (OP) treatment. This form of outpatient treatment requires patients to attend rehab for a couple of hours a day, once or twice a week. OP treatment is usually for people with mild addictions. 

Ways to Cope Detoxing from Alcohol

Withdrawal from alcohol can be debilitating, if not deadly. Alcohol is one of the very few substances that can send the body into deadly withdrawals in someone who chronically abuses alcohol. It is highly recommended that a chronic alcohol abuser seek professional treatment to help overcome their cravings and undergo withdrawals in a safe, controlled environment. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is commonly used in the setting of alcohol withdrawals, and these medications act to minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Besides medication-assisted treatment, there are a plethora of proper coping methods during alcohol withdrawals that an individual can practice during their withdrawal from alcohol.

  • Drink lots of fluids and electrolytes: Alcoholism often co-exists with dehydration so, during withdrawals, it is crucial to stay hydrated.
  • Keep an active support group: Withdrawing from alcohol can bring on many feelings of loneliness, so it is essential to create a positive support group full of people who have your best interest at heart. Developing meaningful and supportive relationships can help to bolster your sense of belonging, self-confidence, and even self-awareness. Whether it be rekindling an old relationship with a family member or friend, or establishing a new one, these positive relationships are an essential part of recovery.
  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet: Many individuals who are addicted to alcohol also suffer from poor nutrition, so it is vital to eat food full of fruits and vegetables during withdrawals. Your body needs vitamins.
  • Avoid your drinking buddies: One of the most important things to do when beating alcohol withdrawal is distance yourself away from enablers and any drinking advocates that are in your life. These are the people that don’t want you to get sober. They often will minimize your addiction by telling you it’s not that big of a deal. They may even try to offer you alcohol during your detox. It’s best to cut these people out of your life during this time.
  • Exercise: While you may not feel like it, an appropriate amount of exercise is one of the best tools for coping with alcohol withdrawals. Exercise releases endorphins into your brain, creating natural happy feelings within a person. Plus, you will begin to feel stronger and more powerful as you work out. It’s good for your self-confidence and your recovery.

Support Groups 

Recovery continues long after rehab. Support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, offer an outlet to discuss treatment goals and challenges with other people who are in alcohol recovery. This will provide you with the motivation to maintain your sobriety.

After the alcohol withdrawal stage, you will transition into other treatment therapies, activities, and programs. These will provide you with the tools and resources to prevent triggers, continue ongoing recovery and live a well-balanced life after rehab.

How to Help An Alcoholic Through Little Creek Lodge

Little Creek Lodge is a drug and alcohol treatment center located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here at Little Creek Lodge, we follow the 12-Steps of addiction in conjunction with recreational therapy and clinical care while offering residents a holistic approach to treating their addictions. 

We here at Little Creek also offer a structured, safe environment with 24-hour care for all of our residents to recover from addiction. We also offer outpatient and family counseling programs. Furthermore, we provide individuals that need extra assistance transitioning from treatment back into the real world through our sober living facility, Shane’s House. Shane’s House is located on the Little Creek Recovery property, adjacent to Little Creek Lodge.

On top of going through the 12 steps of addiction, we here at Little Creek, take our residents through the Three Stages of Care. That way they can reconnect with themselves, learn how to ask for help, and reengage with the world. 

Our Little Creek residents learn how to empower themselves through their choices. They also learn how to

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