Know about Alcohol Detox: Alcohol Detoxification

What you need to know about alcohol detox (detoxification). Here’s information about what it is. Why it is sometimes necessary. What it involves. And more.


I.    Alcohol Detox

II.   Symptoms

III.  Alcohol Detox Processes

IV.   Alternatives to Alcohol Detox

V.    Resources

I. Know about Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox is the process of stabilizing alcoholics who have stopped drinking. This is sometimes necessary before alcoholism treatment begins. Detox is to prevent them from going into alcohol withdrawal. And that might cause death.

Alcohol withdrawal can lead to a number of symptoms. They generally start within eight hours after the last drink. But they can occur much later. They usually peak within 24 to 72 hours. But some can continue for weeks.

II.  Know about Alcohol Detox Symptoms

There are common alcohol detox symptoms.

    • Nervousness
    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Trembling
    • Fatigue
    • Mood swings
    • Depression
    • Nightmares
    • Confused thinking

Other withdrawal symptoms may include these.

    • Headache
    • Enlarged pupils
    • Insomnia
    • Clammy skin
    • Tremors or shaking
    • Loss of appetite
    • Pallor
    • Rapid heart beat
    • Sweating
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

Severe alcohol withdrawal (delirium tremens or the DTs) usually has these symptoms.

    • Fever
    • Extreme agitation.
    • Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or feeling things that only exist in the mind).
    • Severe confusion.
    • Seizures

Medical supervision is essential with DTs to prevent possible death.

Severity of Symptoms

The heavier drinking has been, the greater the chance that withdrawal symptoms will be severe.

know about alcohol detoxIf the doctor expects mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, detox might be on an out-patient basis. The patient may need to visit the doctor daily. Typically, the treatment includes the use of sedatives to reduce withdrawal symptoms, counseling, blood tests, and carefully monitoring health.

If the doctor thinks the symptoms will be moderate to severe, treatment is likely to be on an in-patient basis. This usually involves the use of strong sedatives, giving fluids through a vein (IV), and closely watching vital signs. If the doctor expects symptoms to be severe, nurses will carefully monitor the patient for the DTs.

III. Know about Alcohol Detox Processes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says detox has three steps.

    1. Evaluation. Tests determine which substances and how much of them are in the patient’s body.
    2. Stabilization. The process of detox occurs.
    3. Guiding Patients into Treatment. This is because detox only addresses physical dependence.
Accreditation Important

It’s very important to select a facility that has alcohol detox available on-site. It should have accreditation by one of the following.

Joint Commission.

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program(HFAP).

Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC).

Some rehabs don’t qualify to have alcohol detox available on-site. A few actually send their patients far away for the process. Of course, this makes the transition to treatment more difficult, time consuming, and expensive.

You may wish to talk with your doctor before making any decisions about alcohol detox or rehab. If you do choose either detox or a rehab, there are probably many choices near where you live.

IV. Know about Alternatives

You might also decide that you don’t need to enter a rehab. Few people do. Most people benefit from a free programs that permit them to live at home. Programs include these.

V. Resources: Know about Alcohol Detox

    • This site gives no advice about about alcohol detox. Please see your doctor with questions.