Detox, short for detoxification, is the first step of the drug or alcohol abuse treatment process. Abstinence is a prerequisite for recovery. Detox is the process of the body becoming drug free and therefore abstinent. Withdrawal is a natural part of detox. It is a necessary process that the body goes through when it is dependent on a substance. Alcohol Detoxification treatment, includes abstinence from alcohol in a controlled environment and close monitoring of vital signs and any withdrawal symptoms. The process of detoxification from alcohol takes three to seven days, after which the alcoholic’s dependency on alcohol is primarily psychological, rather than physical or chemical.
Detox is described as the first step toward recovery because until there is no alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body they cannot participate in recovery. While still under the influence of drugs or alcohol a person is not fully prepared to participate in the educational and therapeutic process of rehab and treatment. But generally an alcohol intervention is required to begin the recovery process.
Alcohol detox is a medically monitored period where a person is helped to overcome their physical dependence on alcohol. Alcohol detox is intended to relieve the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Approximately 95 percent of alcoholics experience mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can be treated by health-care providers on an outpatient basis, but five percent experience severe withdrawals and should be treated in a hospital or a facility that specializes in detoxification. The ultimate goal of detox is preparation for long-term recovery from alcoholism. Alcohol detox is most commonly conducted in an inpatient, medical setting such as a hospital, alcohol detox center or an alcoholism treatment center.
Alcohol detox can cause a variety of major and/or minor physical and psychological side effects. The process of alcohol detox can be traumatic. The effects can range from mild to quite severe. Mild reactions to alcohol detox can include;
- tremors (the shakes)
- lose of appetite
Approximately 95 percent of alcoholics experience mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms that can be treated by health-care providers on an outpatient basis, but five percent experience severe withdrawals and should be treated in a hospital or a facility that specializes in detoxification. More serious effects of alcohol detox can be:
- Alcohol Delirium Tremors (DT’s)
- Autonomic hyperactivity and seizures (convulsions)
A variety of medications and procedures are used to detox from alcohol in a medical environment. In some cases, detox treatment can also include administering benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium, Librium, Ativan or Serax).
Rapid detox is an anesthesia assisted detoxification procedure done in a clinical setting, usually a hospital or rapid detoxification center. Rapid detoxification and rapid opiate detox are procedures, which remove active opiates from the body while a patient is under general anesthesia. The rapid detox procedure lasts about four to six hours. Unlike traditional detoxification, rapid detox produces relatively little withdrawal symptoms.
Like any detox treatment protocol, rapid detox is a first step not an end to treatment. An introduction to the principles of recovery, medical care, and an environment conducive to alcohol rehabilitation are the keys to a successful and long-term drug and alcohol free life.
Important: Never attempt to detox from alcohol or any chemical substance, without the proper medical supervision.