What Happens In An Alcohol Detox Program?

By on December 4, 2012

Moderate consumption of alcohol is known to provide relaxation and proffers a wide spectrum of health benefits. However, excessive intake of the same can cause not just great misery but also presents serious health risks. Alcohol dependence is an addiction which should never be neglected as the dependency gets more severe with time and so do the repercussions.

Individuals with drinking problems are unlikely to recognize that they are addicted to alcohol. They usually remain in denial and cover up for themselves as best as they can. It is for people in constant touch with them to recognize the problem and get them professional help. Alcohol addicts who go through a detox program will generally be able to completely abstain from alcohol for as long as they live.

How to Help an Alcoholic
Help should come from family and friends whom the individual trusts the most. The best technique is to discuss the addiction when the individual is sober, so that you have all their attention and are in a position to carry out an intelligent discussion regarding the ramification of the addiction on the individual’s life and of those close to them. Encourage the alcoholic to take responsibility and get help from a professional. Once you are able to convince the individual that they have a problem and can do with professional help, half the battle is won.

Getting Professional Assistance

The first step towards getting rid of the addiction is to seek professional help. Trained professionals help the alcoholic to go through an alcohol detox program that frees them of their addiction. This is done under supervision of highly specialized doctors. The medically supervised detox program commonly requires addicts to stay as in-patients at a special treatment unit or an especially equipped psychiatric ward/hospital.

The Alcohol Detox Program
The process involves eliminating or neutralization of toxic and harmful substances from the addict’s body. This procedure can take a couple of weeks or last a few months, depending on the dependency of the substance and how long the individual has been addicted. The willingness of the addict to be free from alcohol abuse also matters. Detoxification is a normal function carried out by the liver to neutralize the effect of conceivably destructive materials that enter the body. These substances include alcohol and drugs. In a supervised detox program the process is assisted through medication and abstinence.

Medically Supervised Detox Program
Medically supervised detoxification is carried out where there is substance abuse. The patient undergoing the detoxification usually goes through horrible withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol intake is stopped. The withdrawal symptoms include delirium, stomach aches, uneasiness, and sweating and palpitation etcetera. This process is also referred to as “drying out” in medical parlance.

The individual is gradually weaned off the alcohol in a controlled environment. The patient is usually kept in isolation away from the temptations to avoid a relapse. The patient is kept under observation and is put on medication to manage the difficult and painful symptoms.

The detoxification is complete once all traces of the substance have been removed from the body. This is followed by the next phase which aims at keeping the patient free from alcohol. The professional’s helping the patient ensures that they do not suffer a relapse and go back to his or her old ways of drinking again. A number of different methods are adopted to make certain a recovering alcoholic stays away from intoxicating drinks. The most commonly used treatments include cognitive behavior therapy, counseling, aversion therapy and membership to self-help groups such as the Alcoholics Anonymous. The patient will need counseling and long term treatment in order to continue abstinence.

Overview
The clinics helping alcoholics with their problem also offer support and advice to the family and friends of alcoholics to be better able to cope with the crisis and help the alcoholic. The detox treatment aims at minimizing damage that can be caused by alcohol abuse and prepare the body for a life without alcohol.

The detox therapy is the only way for alcoholics to free themselves from the shackles of alcohol. Fighting the craving to drink is next to impossible for an alcoholic. An addict cannot give up drinking without getting professional help.

Featured images:

Wanida Vanjicharangkon is from Bangkok, Thailand; she likes writing about health related issues.

About News Editor