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"The thing that I'm most proud of in my life is that if a stranger came up to me and said, 'I can't stop drinking. I can't stop drinking. Can you help me?' I can say, "Yes, I can help you.'"
-Matthew Perry, Friends
Alcohol withdrawal is dangerous, and going through detox is the best way to recover safely. This is advice that such famous celebrities like Amy Winehouse and Nelsan Ellis probably wish they would have taken. Both of them died as a result of withdrawing from alcohol, and both of their deaths most likely could have been prevented.
Aside from the risk of fatal complications, there are many reasons why alcohol detox is the best option for alcoholics. For one, it is extremely difficult to stop drinking and get sober. Alcoholism is a medical condition; a disease. It is not a lifestyle choice, which is what many people view it as. In order to facilitate a successful recovery, it must be treated like a disease.
Going through alcohol detox is the first, and quite possibly, the most important step in recovery. Once someone has completed the detoxification process, they are then able to continue on to a rehabilitation facility for more treatment.
When you complete an alcohol detox program, you are getting help for the physical side of the addiction. This means addressing withdrawal symptoms through a series of withdrawal treatments. We will talk about the different methods that are used in just a moment.
An alcohol rehab is a place you go to get help for the psychological side of the addiction. This is the place where the disease of addiction is treated. It involves many different types of therapy, according to your specific needs.
With the right guidance, it is possible to break free from the chains of alcoholism. Treatment is necessary in order to safely recover. If you are an alcoholic, we would like to encourage you to read through this alcohol detox guide. We will be covering valuable information such as:
Most of all, we want you to know that you are not alone. There are so many others who have fought the battle against alcoholism and won. There is no reason why you should not be one of them.
Alcohol is a drug that makes people feel good. But it is also one that causes many to travel down the path toward addiction. The question is, why?
A report published by WebMD sheds some light on this subject. Researchers have found that there are certain areas of the brain that are being affected when a person drinks. There are significant differences in the way the brain's reward center responds in both heavy and light drinkers.
For both groups of people, alcohol results in the release of endorphins in two regions of the brain associated with rewards. These endorphins are feel-good opioids, and in excess amounts, they create in a euphoric high. Heavy drinkers release more of them, and in turn, they feel more intoxicated. This is the case even when the light drinkers and the heavy drinkers consume the same amount.
The researchers concluded that this must mean that people whose brains release more endorphins may feel more pleasure while drinking. These individuals are, therefore, likely to drink too much more often, and become alcoholics.
The road to alcoholism always starts with abuse. You start drinking for a number of different reasons, such as:
Eventually, continuing to drink will cause you to build up a tolerance. That means it will take larger amounts of alcohol in order for you to get drunk. To compensate for that, you will continually increase how much and/or how often you drink.
As some time goes on, people become dependent upon alcohol in order to function normally. There is both a psychological dependence and a physical dependence that takes place, and in that order. This is primarily because of the way alcohol boosts dopamine and endorphins in the brain.
People gradually become used to experiencing that rush of dopamine, and it becomes their new normal. But it often does not take too long before they end up needing alcohol to experience any dopamine rush at all. This is why so many alcoholics claim that they do not feel like themselves unless they are drinking.
There are a lot of stereotypes that people typically relate with alcoholism. Many alcoholics spend their lives in denial of their condition because they do not fit what they consider to be the textbook definition of an alcoholic.
Some of the common stereotypes include:
There are many more, and there is a good chance that you have bought into the myth of alcohol stereotypes. The reality is that alcoholism can happen to anyone. There is no one who is immune to the possibility of having a drinking problem with continued alcohol abuse.
There are several different types of alcoholics. In fact, many people who struggle with drinking problems are the people that no one would suspect. This is a disease that does not discriminate, and it can impact anyone at any time.
A researcher by the name of E.M. Jellinek developed a classification scheme for the five types of alcoholics. Read the following descriptions to determine if you might meet their criteria.
The profile of the young adult subtype generally meets the following conditions:
Research has shown that approximately 32% of people with alcohol addictions are a part of this subtype. That makes it the largest.
The profile of the young antisocial subtype usually meets all or most of the following criteria:
About 21% of alcoholics in the United States make up the young antisocial subtype. For many of these individuals, they either are or could be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder by the age of 18.
The qualities that many functional or high-functioning alcoholics have include:
These are the individuals that many people have a hard time believing to be alcoholics. On the outside, they appear to have their lives together. They may make a lot of money, or even seem to be workaholics.
High functioning alcoholics make up about 20% of all alcoholics. There is a good chance you may know one in your own inner circle.
Someone who is diagnosed as an intermediate familial subtype alcoholic may exhibit the following characteristics:
In order to be considered as a part of this subtype, the individual must have started drinking by the age of 17. It is possible that they do not become alcoholics until they are around 30 years old.
19% of the alcoholics in the United States fall into this category.
Someone who is considered to have the subtype of chronic severe alcoholism should meet the following criteria:
In addition, the people in the chronic severe alcoholism subtype generally meet the following criteria for alcohol use disorder more often:
This subtype is the most rare of them all. Only about 9% of alcoholics fit these characteristics. But as many as 2/3 of them will seek out the help they need to quit.
It is extremely common for people to live denial about being alcoholics, as we mentioned earlier. In fact, you could be suffering from denial yourself. How do you find out for sure if you have an alcohol problem and need treatment?
You may want to begin by searching your life for signs of alcoholism, such as:
If reviewing the above symptoms of alcoholism does not help you, you may want to take different actions. It might help you to take an alcoholism quiz. This will tell you whether or not you should be concerned, and what type of help you may need to recover.
If you would feel more comfortable talking with a professional, you may do that as well. Many alcohol rehabs offer free phone assessments for people who think they may have drinking problems.
Alcohol abuse and addiction are two very different things. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same at all. Many people in the United States abuse alcohol, but a lot of them do not suffer from alcoholism.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines alcohol abuse as not being physically or psychologically dependent, but still having a serious problem. People who abuse it may participate in dangerous drinking behaviors, but they generally do not negatively impact their lives for the long-term.
For someone with alcoholism, they are completely physically and psychologically dependent upon alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 15.1 million adults suffer from AUD. Also, only 6.7% of these individuals ever get the treatment they need.
Still, alcohol abuse should not be minimized. Even if you have not yet become an alcoholic, there is a very real chance that you will. In fact, the next drink you consume could be the one that results in it.
The statistics surrounding alcohol abuse and addiction in our country are astounding. The CDC tells us that:
As you might assume, there are different types of alcohol abuse. They are all varying ways of achieving the same goal (getting drunk), but they are all risky.
Underage drinking has never been as prevalent as it is right now. The NIAAA reports that alcohol is the most widely used drug of abuse among America's young people. Most of them fail to see the harm in it, and they view drinking as a way for them to fit in with their friends. What they do not realize is that because of their age, they are poised to suffer tremendous health and safety consequences.
Statistics tell us that:
More than 90% of the alcohol young people drink is consumed by binge drinking. Teenagers may drink less often than adults, but in reality, they drink higher amounts.
Young people state a number of reasons why they drink, including to relieve stress and because of peer pressure. Consuming large amounts of alcohol at such a young age carries so many risks. It interferes with their developing brains, and can also increase the risk of alcohol addiction later in their lives.
Binge drinking has developed into a very serious, costly, deadly, and sadly, the most common health problem in the U.S. It is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.
This type of alcohol consumption is defined as consuming 5 or more drinks for men, or 4 or more drinks per women within a two-hour timeframe. Interestingly enough, most of the people who binge drink are not dependent upon alcohol. That means they are not classified as alcoholics.
Still, binge drinking has certainly taken its toll. Statistics from the CDC tell us that:
In fact, for every five binge drinks consumed, four of them are consumed by men.
More than 90% of adults who drink excessively have reported binge drinking at some point within the last month.
Even though this form of drinking is not always equated with alcoholism, there are still serious risks involved. Many people suffer from unintentional injuries or accidents. Violence is prevalent among people who binge drink, as are STDs, unintended pregnancies and many chronic diseases.
Heavy drinking can be just as dangerous as binge drinking. In fact, the two are actually quite similar to one another. There are certain standard limits for alcohol consumption. Once these limits are passed, the person could be considered a heavy drinker.
Heavy drinking or at-risk drinking as it is sometimes called can be described as:
Research has shown that about 25% of people who exceed these limits already have an alcohol use disorder. Those that do not are at risk for developing the condition. Of course, these numbers are only an average. There are people who could become alcoholics by consuming smaller amounts than the ones listed above.
In general, the more someone drinks, the more at risk they are for becoming an alcoholic. As time goes by without any change in the behavior, the more serious the situation becomes. These individuals are gradually increasing the chances of not only an alcohol use disorder, but also for serious health and personal issues too.
Alcohol can have a devastating impact on the human brain - both in the short and long-term. Some of these impairments may be detectable after only one or two drinks. Others may take years to surface, but with continuing use, they will.
It is important to realize that there are some brain changes that are not reversible. Many people believe that they can simply stop drinking and everything will go back to normal. That is not always the case.
There are a few different factors that can affect how much the brain is affected by continued alcohol use. These include:
Most people drink alcohol because they are looking forward to the short-term effects they expect. Drinking can be enjoyable, but far too often, people get more than they had bargained for, even with one use.
Some of the more common short-term effects of alcohol include:
It is not uncommon for people who drink too much to experience blackouts. They may deny having blacked out the next day when they hear people talking about it. But the experience itself is very real.
A blackout is a lapse in memory of a specific event. The person who was drinking has no recollection of the events that happened while they were under the influence. At the time they were drunk, they spoke, behaved and carried on as normal as they could.
Blackouts occur because of the brain's inability to form new memories while heavily intoxicated. E.M. Jellinek concluded that for someone who has blackouts, they are a powerful indicator of alcoholism.
The long-term effects of alcohol on the brain can be catastrophic. Some of the effects may be reversible, but many of them will become permanent. Since 2008, researchers have known that heavy drinking over a long period of time can actually shrink brain volume. The study found that people who consumed more than 14 drinks per week over a 20-year period had brains that were 1.6% smaller than people who did not drink. This finding was much stronger in women than it was in men.
Additional long-term effects include:
The consequences of drinking on the brain can even be deadly. In a Lancet study, it was found that people who regularly had 10 or more drinks a week could expect a one to two years shorter life expectancy than those who drink less.
Alcohol also has a profound effect on the body as well. While there may not be many short-term physical risks for alcoholics, there are many long-term risks. Drinking an occasional glass of wine with dinner is harmless enough in most cases. But when it becomes a habit over years and years, it will take its toll.
There are so many things that can happen to the body when someone is an alcoholic. Whether you realize it or not, if you have a drinking problem, you could be at risk for many of the following:
Some of these conditions may be treatable, but not all of them are. Diseases like cirrhosis may be life-long, and could even require a liver transplant.
Once you are addicted to alcohol, trying to quit is extremely difficult. Many people attempt it on their own for years, without experiencing success.
It is important to remember that while alcohol is legal and widely available, it is an addictive drug. It is a substance that can quickly take hold of your mind and body until you feel you have to have it in order to feel like yourself. Even so, with the right support, it is possible to recover.
Alcohol withdrawal is extremely painful. One user on the website, Reddit, stated that it was "the worst, most terrifying experience of my life." He goes on to talk about how he finally decided to stop and asked his girlfriend to get rid of all the alcohol in the house. After that, he went to sleep.
When he woke up later that night, he felt fuzzy-headed. His heart rate and blood pressure were sky rocketing. After a shower, he heard his name being called, but his girlfriend was fast asleep. A moment later, he looked at the bed again, and she was gone. He found out that she was never actually there.
This continues on for a long time. He suffers through excessive sweating, and he is afraid that his heart is going to stop. He starts to go unconscious, but when he closes his eyes, he's having auditory hallucinations.
Fortunately, he made it through the worst of alcohol withdrawal, but this situation could have been much worse. This story is exactly why it is so important to get medical attention when you decide to stop drinking.
Alcohol withdrawal is extremely painful - both mentally and physically. Continuing to drink has resulted in so many different changes in the body and in the mind. Once the alcohol has been stopped, it is as though you go into shock. This is the result of your central nervous system responding.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. It works by slowing many of the automatic functions of the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and body temperature. Drinking will also interfere with the transmission of neurotransmitters in the brain.
When you stop drinking, your body and brain are trying desperately to regulate themselves. This can be extremely painful, and it is what results in withdrawal. This is exactly why quitting alcohol cold turkey is never recommended.
The benefits of alcohol detox are numerous. During the detoxification process, you will receive various treatments to help with withdrawal. These will help you manage your symptoms so that you feel better than you would if you had tried quitting on your own.
Your alcohol detox can also help you avoid the complications that can accompany alcohol withdrawal. One of these is delirium tremens, or DTs, which is a condition that can become fatal if left untreated.
The more common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
Not everyone has all of the symptoms on this list. But many people suffer from most of them when they quit drinking.
Delirium tremens is a severe type of alcohol withdrawal that can happen to anyone. Although it is more likely to happen to people who have been drinking excessively for longer periods of time. For instance, if you have been drinking a lot every day for several months, or if you have been drinking for more than 10 years, you could be at risk.
Some of the most common symptoms of DTs include:
This is a potentially deadly condition that requires immediate medical attention. By choosing to go to alcohol detox, you may be able to avoid it.
Most people can expect withdrawal symptoms to begin within 8 to 12 hours following the last drink. Of course, this can vary from person to person. Someone who has a higher metabolism and who drinks heavily may experience symptoms much sooner.
The length of time alcohol stays in the system will depend on a few different factors. Among them are your age, how much and how often you drink, and your metabolic rate. Ethanol enters your bloodstream through your stomach and it is then processed by your liver. For most people, it takes about an hour for the liver to process one ounce of alcohol, or one drink.
For someone who has a BAC of 0.08, it takes about 5.5 hours for the body to process it. But it still may be detectable in urine and breath for much longer than that.
There are a lot of different alcohol detox options and alternatives. While it is important for you to find the method that will work well for you, please use extreme caution. Not all alcohol detox methods for treating addiction are considered safe or beneficial.
It is common for people to want to attempt to detox from alcohol at home. They may use the harm reduction method of tapering down on how much they drink. Or, they might also try various natural remedies.
It is a common misconception that the use of vitamins, supplements, drinks and even detox kits can help with withdrawal. While there may be some relief in symptom severity, the dangers are still there. At any time, you may begin to see signs of DTs, and that requires a trip to the emergency room.
There is definitely a place for natural remedies, but they should not be used for alcohol withdrawal.
It is very clear that medicated detox methods are vital during the detoxification process for alcoholics. This allows them to take drugs that can help with their withdrawal symptoms.
There are many medications that have been approved to treat alcohol withdrawal. They include:
Many alcohol detox programs have also seen promising results with using a new medication called Vivitrol. It has worked exceptionally well for many recovering alcoholics in helping to decrease their withdrawal symptoms.
Most alcohol detox facilities will include natural or holistic detox methods along with medications. This involves improving their patients' diets, starting a regular exercise regimen, yoga, and other treatments.
The human body is extremely good at detoxing itself as long as it is healthy enough to do so. By using natural methods, the health of the liver and kidneys can be vastly improved.
There are several types of professional alcohol detox facilities. It is possible to go through an outpatient program, although most experts agree that it is not the safest method. A patient who detoxes on an outpatient basis still runs the risk of DTs; not to mention they are at risk of relapsing.
There are also facilities called rapid detox centers. They use medications to help alcoholics detox quickly. While this might sound like the best option, it can be very dangerous. This is especially true if the person suffers from other medical issues that might lead to complications.
An inpatient detox is the best option for alcohol withdrawal. This type of treatment removes the alcoholic from their environment and eliminates the risk of relapse. It also ensures that they are constantly under medical supervision in case an emergency arises.
Once detox is over, you should move on to an alcohol rehab program. This can be done on an inpatient or an outpatient basis.
Rehabilitation is vital for recovery. It allows patients to work through the reasons behind their addictions and heal. During rehab, people receive different types of treatments, such as:
When combined, and when the patient is compliant, there is a high probability of success.
After rehab, treatment must continue in order for you to stay sober. Of course, it will take on a much different form. For example, if you began by going to an inpatient program, you may transition into an intensive outpatient program. If you started with an IOP, you may move on to outpatient rehab along with a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Regardless, please continue to invest in your sobriety. You are worth it, and it will make an amazing difference. Those who are most successful are the people who continue to get help.
Alcohol detox is the most important part of your recovery if you are an alcoholic. Here at Northpoint Seattle, we can provide you with a referral for a program that we trust. Once you have detoxed on an inpatient basis, we can continue to assist you through our intensive outpatient program.
Nothing is as important as your sobriety. With our help, we can assist you in making that a reality.
Did we answer all of your questions about alcohol detox? Please contact us today to get started with your recovery.
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