Undergoing alcohol detox is not just doing dry January, sober October or abstaining from alcohol after a heavy weekend. Alcohol detox is an evidence-based, medically-guided process designed to purge the body of alcohol’s harmful toxins while managing the severe and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. The alcohol detox journey is a courageous first stride towards healing, breaking free from the shackles of alcohol addiction and reclaiming control over your life.
What is alcohol detox?
Alcohol detox is the process that confronts the physical aspect of addiction, enabling your body to rid itself of alcohol and its detrimental effects. The continuous consumption of alcohol develops a physical dependence where your body needs alcohol to function normally. Alcohol detox breaks this dependency and initiates the crucial process of healing.
This process is typically accompanied by alcohol withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, as the body adjusts to the absence of alcohol, a substance it has become accustomed to. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and potentially even life-threatening, so detox should always be done at a professional alcohol detox centre like Oasis Runcorn.
Following alcohol detox, you will be better prepared for the next stages of recovery, which tackle the psychological aspects of dependency with detox, preparing your body and mind for the journey ahead.
Can you detox from alcohol at home?
Attempting to detox from alcohol at home or “going cold turkey” can be incredibly dangerous. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to severe health complications, including seizures, hallucinations, and in rare cases, death. This is particularly risky if you manage to abstain for a period and then relapse and start drinking again because your tolerance to alcohol will have dropped. To ensure your safety, alcohol detox should always be medically monitored in a controlled environment like Oasis Runcorn.
What alcohol withdrawal symptoms will you experience during detox?
During detox, you may experience various alcohol withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts to functioning without alcohol. Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety: A sense of worry or fear, which can be mild or severe
- Tremors: Shaking or trembling, often noticed in the hands first
- Sweating: Unusual or excessive sweating, even in cool conditions
- Nausea or vomiting: This can be severe and lead to dehydration
- Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Hallucinations: Seeing, feeling or hearing things that aren’t really there
- Seizures: Sudden, uncontrolled disturbances in the brain, which can be life-threatening
How long does the alcohol withdrawal process last?
The timeline for alcohol withdrawal and detox is highly individual and depends on factors like your health, the duration of your alcohol dependency, the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and your physical and psychological responses to alcohol withdrawal.
Despite this variation, here is a general timeline that most people tend to follow during alcohol withdrawal:
- 6 to 24 hours after the last drink: The first symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often begin within the first day after drinking has stopped. These early symptoms might include anxiety, shaky hands, sweating, nausea, vomiting and insomnia. These initial symptoms can be mild to severe, depending on the extent of your dependency on alcohol.
- 24 to 48 hours: After the first day, alcohol detox symptoms may progress to include more severe physical effects, such as increased blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and fever. This period can also bring heightened anxiety, mood swings and confusion and lead to hallucinations and seizures.
- 48 to 72 hours: This is often the peak period for alcohol withdrawal symptoms when professional medical support is most important. Symptoms like hallucinations, seizures and severe confusion can occur, and in extreme cases, you may experience a dangerous condition known as delirium tremens (DTs), requiring immediate medical attention.
- One week after the last drink: After the peak, alcohol detox symptoms generally decrease in severity but may still be present. Lingering effects may include difficulty sleeping, changes in mood and cravings for alcohol.
- Several weeks to months after the last drink: While for most people, alcohol withdrawal symptoms will have finished, some people may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS can include ongoing symptoms like mood swings, sleep disturbances, reduced energy and increased anxiety which can come and go over several weeks or even months. This requires ongoing professional support to manage, which professional alcohol detox centres like Oasis Runcorn provide.
What are Delirium Tremens?
Delirium tremens (DTs) is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and a medical emergency. It typically affects those who have a long history of heavy alcohol use, particularly if they abruptly stop drinking after a period of excessive consumption.
DT onset usually occurs about 48 to 96 hours after the last drink, but symptoms can appear as early as 6 hours or as late as several days after cessation. The condition is characterised by a cluster of symptoms, including:
- Severe confusion and disorientation: This is the defining symptom of DTs, hence the term ‘delirium’ with people not knowing where they are, what time it is or even who they are.
- Vivid hallucinations: Unlike regular hallucinations associated with alcohol withdrawal, those experienced during DTs are often intense and frightening, involving visual, auditory or tactile sensations.
- Severe agitation or restlessness: Sufferers may experience a high level of anxiety, become extremely restless and exhibit rapid mood changes.
- Seizures: While seizures can occur in alcohol withdrawal without DTs, they are particularly common and potentially more severe within DTs.
- Fever and excessive sweating: A high body temperature is common, along with profuse sweating.
- Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure: These symptoms can lead to serious complications if not monitored and treated promptly.
DT is a critical condition that can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Treatment often involves the administration of benzodiazepines or other medications to manage symptoms, reduce agitation and prevent seizures. Other supportive treatments can include intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, antipsychotic medications to manage hallucinations, fever, and blood pressure.
The potential for DTs underscores the importance of seeking professional help when deciding to detox from alcohol, especially after a history of prolonged and heavy drinking.
Alcohol detox at Oasis Runcorn
At Oasis Runcorn, we understand the challenges you face while recovering from alcohol addiction. That is why we have designed a comprehensive approach to alcohol detox that supports your journey every step of the way and provides the following benefits:
- Inpatient alcohol detox: At our facility, you will be provided with a safe and comfortable environment for your detox process with no outside stressors or alcohol available. This will enable you to focus solely on healing.
- 24/7 care and support: Undergoing alcohol detox can be physically and emotionally challenging, so we provide 24/7 care and support from our team of experienced healthcare professionals. Our team is always on hand to provide comfort, manage withdrawal symptoms and handle any emergencies that may arise.
- A full medical assessment: Our team performs a thorough medical assessment on your arrival to ensure the best treatment. This comprehensive review considers your medical history, the severity of your addiction, the presence of any co-occurring disorders and your personal needs and goals for recovery.
- Medical alcohol detox: This involves the use of approved medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Medical detox aims to minimise discomfort, prevent complications and increase the likelihood of a successful detox. If you require a medical alcohol detox, you will be closely monitored to ensure your safety and comfort.
- Alcohol rehab: At Oasis Runcorn, we believe that addressing the psychological aspects of alcohol addiction is just as important as tackling physical dependence. While undergoing detox, you will also participate in an alcohol rehab programme that includes a range of rehab therapies and holistic treatments to help you understand the root causes of your dependency, equip you with coping strategies and help prepare you for a future free from alcohol.
How to start alcohol detox
Oasis Runcorn’s alcohol detox programmes are holistic, client-centred and grounded in evidence-based practices, and we can provide you with the tools and support you need to start your recovery journey. We understand that alcohol detox is just the first step on this journey, and we’re committed to helping you every step of the way. Contact us today to start the transformation process and build a healthier, alcohol-free life.