Alcohol detoxification (or detox) is the sudden cessation of alcohol consumption in people who are suffering from alcohol dependency. Usually this procedure is accompanied by substitution of other drugs that have similar sedative effects to alcohol in order to avoid alcohol withdrawal. This can also be accompanied by medical procedures such as hospitalization. It can be done under the supervision of a professional health care team. Under proper medical supervision, detox may also be performed in the patient’s own home.
Although alcohol detoxification is a medical procedure, it is frequently performed without the recommendation or referral of a physician. Most of the time, the withdrawal symptoms are so mild that they can be managed by the patients themselves, without any professional help. Nonetheless, in certain instances, especially in the case of heavy or chronic use, medical supervision may still be required. In the case of heavy and chronic alcohol use, it has been found that withdrawal symptoms can be more severe than during the acute alcohol detoxification stage.
The most common reasons for alcohol detoxification are excessive use, combined with severe and long-term alcoholism dependence. For instance, a man may undergo alcohol detoxification when he stops his daily drinking at an earlier age than planned due to work commitments. A woman may detox herself due to the pressures of family life and marriage. Even a teenager suffering from extreme social anxiety can experience alcohol detoxification therapy as an anxiety treatment. While the reasons for these different types of alcohol detoxification are different, the end result is basically the same.
Although there are several methods and means of alcohol detoxification, the length of time of abstinence is usually the determining factor for physicians and medical professionals. Generally, people suffering from heavy alcohol use or alcohol dependence will need more time for recovery, compared to those who are only mildly alcoholics. This is because the severity of withdrawal symptoms requires the assistance of medical professionals and rehabilitation centers to administer the right kind of medication and treatment.
During the detox period, individuals suffering from alcohol detoxification may have signs of depression, anxiety, and emotional withdrawal symptoms. They may also exhibit physical withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, and chills. However, these symptoms usually subside after a few days. If the patient is unable to handle stress effectively, he might feel uncontrollable cravings for alcohol. If this happens, additional withdrawal symptoms can emerge such as sweating and dizziness.
When a patient completes the alcohol detoxification program, doctors and physicians will carefully combine various drugs used in drug addiction treatment. These include anti-convulsants (anti-seizure drugs), anti-depressants (anti-depressants), and anti-anxiety drugs (antipsychotics). In addition, these medications are combined with different therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and individual counseling.