Who Should Consider an Alcohol Detox Program?
While it used to be thought that moderate drinking couldn’t hurt and might even be beneficial, new research shows that any amount of alcohol can be bad for your health. Those who have had a long drinking career will likely have a harder time getting sober than those who haven’t been drinking as much, and for them, the benefits of an alcohol detox program could be significant.
Alcohol, like other drugs, changes the way that the brain makes certain neurochemicals. It’ll stop making some of the chemicals when it’s used to having alcohol present. When you abruptly stop drinking, your brain needs time to adjust to the lack of alcohol and that’s what causes withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be mild to severe, depending on how long and how heavily you’ve been drinking, genetics, and physical health, among other factors.
For anyone who’s at risk of picking up a bottle due to the pain of withdrawal, a safe, supervised detox could be the best solution for recovery from alcohol use disorder.
It’s true that not everyone who drinks is at risk of alcoholism or needs to stop drinking entirely. It’s also true that you don’t have to lose everything in your life such as your home, friends, and job to decide that alcohol is not your friend and to give it up completely.
If your drinking is getting in the way of living a joyous, fulfilled life, you have a problem with alcohol. Getting sober could be one of the best life choices you’ve ever made. But you may not be sure that drinking is a problem for you.
If that’s the case, see if any of these characteristics apply to you. They may not all apply, but if one or more of them do, stopping the drink now could prevent you from sliding any further into alcohol use disorder.
- You drink to relax, destress, or sleep
- You drink mostly by yourself
- You hang out with people you normally wouldn’t
- Drinking has led to financial or legal issues such as DUIs
- You drink instead of attending events or outings with friends and family
- You often feel irritable, and/or you experience more severe mood swings than usual
- You’ve blacked out more than once
If you have been drinking too much and need to stop, you have some options for recovery. Currently, you can find many nonalcoholic alternatives, including dealcoholized wine and liquor and craft non-alcoholic beers. These can help you transition into a sober life without the alcohol or giving up your social life.
But maybe your social life is part of the problem because you find that the people you hang out with are all drinkers. You’ll need to avoid people who are significantly involved in your drinking life, as well as bars and other places where you used to drink. Avoiding these triggers will help you avoid relapsing once you stop drinking.
Having support is a key factor in preventing relapse and helping you get sober in the first place. This can be 12-step or other recovery groups, or it can be a rehab or other facility. Some former drinkers may find that groups are insufficient and need the added support from a recovery facility, whether inpatient or outpatient.
And if moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms are in the cards for you, then a supervised detox is probably necessary. You may not even have considered sobriety because you’re worried about the symptoms, and many drinkers who don’t get support find they can’t detox on their own.
If you’ve been drinking for a long time and/or drinking a lot when you drink, you’ll likely need detox to get off the alcohol. Your entire life may revolve around alcohol, or you might get the shakes and feel ill when you go too long without a drink.
Your brain will have a harder time adjusting to the lack of liquor, which makes the symptoms more severe. You could experience tremors, agitation, irritability, and anxiety on the more moderate side. But on the more severe end, you face hallucinations, seizures, and the “DTs” (delirium tremens).
When you go to the detox facility, you’ll be supervised so that any health problems can be managed. You’ll be less likely to go out and drink again to stop the symptoms, which means you’re more likely to get sober and begin your recovery journey.
Contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles today at (888) 346-4350 to learn how to access our addiction treatment programs.
7 Steps of an Alcohol Detox Program
Although the benefits of an alcohol detox program are significant, detox is just the first step in your recovery from alcohol. Most people with alcohol use disorder have underlying issues behind their drinking; the disorder is not the disease but only a symptom.
Detox allows your brain to adjust to the lack of alcohol in an environment free of triggers where you’re kept comfortable and don’t have to drink again. After detox, you’ll need therapy to address the underlying cause of your drinking and to learn life skills that help you manage stress so you can deal with life without resorting to the crutch of alcohol.
1. Find a detox facility
If you’re worried about withdrawal symptoms, it’s best to find a rehab that offers detox as soon as possible. Check that they accept your insurance or offer ways to pay if finances concern you. There are rehabs in many metropolitan areas and some rural ones.
2. Apply for admission
Most rehabs with detox have a phone number to call or a button on their website to apply. Some facilities offer same-day admissions, but not all can guarantee they can take you immediately. Once you’ve decided to get sober, act fast so you can’t argue back into drinking. People with alcohol use disorder are very good at rationalizing why they should keep drinking, so detox as soon as possible.
3. Be assessed by the clinician
Once you arrive at rehab, they’ll do a physical and mental assessment to see if medical issues must be taken care of simultaneously. Drinkers often arrive malnourished and dehydrated, and if that’s the case for you, you’ll likely be given some fluids as well.
4. Mild symptoms of withdrawal may appear
Although withdrawal symptoms differ a bit from person to person, withdrawal does follow a fairly similar timeline for most people. Within 6 to 12 hours after your last drink, you may experience milder forms of early withdrawal such as headaches, feeling sick to your stomach, and anxiety.
5. Hallucinations are possible
After about 24 hours past the last drink, some people will undergo hallucinations. They may feel, see, or hear things that aren’t really there.
Note that none of these symptoms are related to the care you get through the detox. They’re the physical result of depriving your brain of alcohol and will occur whether you’re in a safe place or not.
6. Seizures and other symptoms come and go
Generally, the worst happens one to three days after your last drink. Mild, moderate, and more severe symptoms can happen anytime and without warning. Seizures generally happen within one to two days after you last picked up, and DTs usually take two to three days.
Not everyone who goes through alcohol withdrawal will experience seizures and DTs, but they are possible. Being supervised during your detox means medical help is on the way if needed.
7. Your brain starts adapting to its alcohol-free environment
Once these sudden-onset symptoms have passed, your brain is beginning to address the imbalance of neurochemicals and your withdrawal symptoms are over for the most part. In general, you’ll be ready to go to rehab in about a week. That’s when the real work of getting sober begins.
See what a day looks like at our detox center here:
6 Benefits of an Alcohol Detox Program
Quitting drinking can be incredibly helpful, whether or not you’ve been a serious drinker for a long time. Even if your drinking career has been relatively short, removing the liquor starts to help your whole body heal. Not only that, but you’ll find that your relationships with the people who really matter (e.g., not your booze buddies) will improve once you begin working on them.
If you keep drinking instead, you’ll likely find you have many problems that don’t go away. If you have financial and legal troubles now, they’ll only get worse. And if you don’t have them now, they’re probably coming at you. Alcohol causes damage to the brain that can result in movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
It’s also related to several different cancers, such as the breast, esophagus, stomach, mouth, and anal. It promotes liver damage, including cancer and cirrhosis. Drinking will also damage your heart over time, causing high blood pressure, heart attacks, aortic rupture (which is deadly if not caught in time), and stroke.
In contrast, going to detox and getting a sober offer the following benefits (among others):
1. Healing or reversing brain damage
Fortunately, our brains are “plastic,” which means they can birth new brain cells and the cells can rewire themselves. All is not necessarily lost if you’ve experienced cognitive (thinking) issues while you were drinking. If you take care of it quickly enough, you might be able to reverse the damage completely. If not, you’ll still be able to improve.
Not only does this improve your quality of life, but if you’re of working age (or school age) you’re more likely to get a good job or go back to school.
2. Better control of behavior
Employers (and teachers and professors) also prefer people who can handle themselves appropriately. Instead of lashing out at coworkers over small things, you can behave like a professional. You’ll also be less withdrawn, which means you can bond better with colleagues and perform well at work or at school. Your family will also appreciate the fact that you now behave like an adult.
3. Improved memory and concentration
You’ll be able to focus on and finish your tasks and remember what you need to do that day. Many aspects of life benefit.
4. Better reaction time
Dulled reflexes are a common sign of too much alcohol. Once you detox and your brain are free of the drink, your reaction times speed up. Great for driving, but also in everyday life.
5. Lower blood pressure
High blood pressure is linked to several cardiovascular diseases and conditions, like heart attacks, strokes, aortic ruptures, etc. Alcohol tends to stiffen arteries and thicken the walls of your blood vessels, which increases your blood pressure. Once your body is alcohol-free, your blood pressure can go down too.
6. Healthier body weight
Many heavy drinkers are underweight because they consume alcohol instead of nutrients and water. Once you start eating nourishing food and hydrating, your body can stabilize at a healthy weight.
What Happens After an Alcohol Detox Program?
If it’s necessary for you to take advantage of the benefits of an alcohol detox program, then you’ll likely need more structured support after detox to get the skills you need to stay sober. Recovery centers typically offer inpatient and outpatient programs, and as you progress on your journey, you will eventually transition out of treatment.
Inpatient facilities are often in the same location as detox, and you’ll live there as you attend classes and therapy and work on the underlying causes of the disorder. Residential programs are highly structured so that you don’t get too bored or get triggered to take a drink.
Usually, meals are communal at specific times of the day. Therapy is normally carried out in both group and individual sessions. Mornings and afternoons are usually spent in the therapy of one kind or another. After dinner, you have time for socializing and hobbies before lights out.
Some treatment centers offer solutions-based therapy, where the focus is not on what you did wrong but on how to be successful in recovery. They may also provide trauma-informed therapy, which is good for those who have suffered trauma and need to avoid being re-traumatized by a recovery program.
After inpatient treatment, there are additional levels of care in outpatient facilities. Partial hospitalization (PHP) programs are also very structured, like inpatient rehab, but instead of living at the recovery center, you live at home or in sober living. You spend most of the day in treatment for most days of the week. In addition to therapy and learning new healthy habits, you’ll also be thinking about aftercare to stay sober after you leave treatment.
An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is the next step down in intensity. Most sessions take place after work, school, or on the weekends. You’re still receiving therapeutic care and working on your aftercare plan. This is where you’ll be transitioning from rehab to the real world and using the life skills you’ve learned to handle whatever life throws at you.
Some people choose to go to sober living during or after outpatient treatment to receive additional support from a sober community. This is especially helpful if your home environment isn’t recovery-positive.
Along the way, while you’re in rehab, you’ll be able to practice the skills that you’ll need to succeed in sobriety, such as stress management. The more time you have in trigger-free circumstances, the more you can build healthy habits so they stick. You don’t have to stay stuck in an alcoholic life, but you do have to start making changes somewhere, like going to detox.
Find Recovery With an Alcohol Detox Program From The Detox Center of LA
Want to take advantage of the benefits of an alcohol detox program in the Los Angeles area? The Detox Center of LA doesn’t treat you like a number. We tailor your program specifically to you and your specific situation. Whether you’ve been drinking for decades or for a much shorter time frame, we can help you get sober for good.
We want to give you the tools you need to succeed even after you leave our state-of-the-art facility. In addition to detox, we also provide inpatient and outpatient treatment to ensure you’re equipped with everything you need to transition into your new life. If you have any co-occurring mental health disorders, we will also help you with that. At The Detox Center of LA, we don’t overwhelm you with information but take it slowly so you can work on a program that fits your needs.
Don’t wait any longer to get sober and start living the joyful life that you want and deserve. Call us at (888) 346-4350 today.