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Alcohol Detox Treatment

The same goes for every form of rehabilitation, it all begins with detoxification (detox).

Alcohol detox is a bit different from drug detox because alcohol contains one harmful chemical, ethanol, that needs to be filtered out of the body. In drug detox, there are typically many substances that the individual has become dependent, thus, required more time to diagnose, and properly treat.

However, you should never underestimate the challenge in detoxing ethanol from the human body. This process can be just as hard, if not, even harder than detoxing from drugs. The primary organ that filters alcohol is the liver, which can only process about one ounce of liquor per hour. The unfiltered traces of alcohol migrate into and begins to circulate with the blood stream. This free circulation will eventually lead the alcohol to the brain, where it will create pleasurable sensations in the reward center of the brain. Soon enough the body will have to consume more alcohol in order to fulfill this process. In consuming more alcohol the individual though, the individual risks developing scar tissue in the liver, exacerbating the situation even further. Scar tissue reduces the liver’s function, coupling this with increased alcohol consumption, physiological effects can take place in the brain.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal begins when the accustomed levels of alcohol in the body drop. When alcohol levels get low enough, individuals may experience, anxiety, sweating, headaches, or nausea, within the first six to twelve hours. In the twelve to forty-eight following low alcohol levels, individuals may experience more severe symptoms.

The second, and more severe, round of symptoms include the possibility of seizures, and alcohol hallucinosis. Alcohol hallucinosis can include tactile, auditory, or visual hallucinations. This more serious level of symptoms needs to be more carefully watched because if a seizure occur, and are not managed properly, individuals can face permanent brain damage.

The third level of symptoms can occur from the twenty-fourth to the seventy-second hour after experiencing low alcohol levels. The main symptom of this tier is delirium tremens, which can last up to about five days. At this time, the individual will experience high blood pressure, rapid and irregular heart beats, and frequent seizure activities, with profuse sweating and tremors in between. In addition, the individual may also experience paranoia, hallucinations, disorientation, confusion, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Because the body has already grown accustomed to the presence of alcohol, it will go through some harsh withdrawal symptoms once the alcohol levels have dropped substantially. In an individual undergoing alcohol detox treatment, he may experience nausea and vomiting, shaking hands, mild anxiety, headache, sweating, and even insomnia. However, this is just the beginning and will usually occur within the first 6 to 12 hours after the last consumption of alcohol.

The Need for a Well-Managed Alcohol Detox Treatment

Removal of ethanol from the body requires a targeted and comprehensive detoxification plan. Thus, a balanced combination of nutritionally-assisted detox and medications should be administered to help manage withdrawal symptoms and give the individual the opportunity to heal. Depending on the withdrawal symptoms exhibited by the individual, they may receive a variety of medications.

  • Naltrexone can be used to reduce the alcohol cravings.
  • Benzodiazepines and Carbamazepine are frequently used in medically-assisted alcohol detox treatment centers. They help reduce the risk of developing seizures while individuals participate in alcohol detox. Carbamazepine is preferred over Benzodiazepines because of its lower risk of abuse, and the fact that it does not affect wakefulness.
  • Oxazepam, lorazepam, diazepam, and chlordiazepoxide are used to manage anxiety, confusion, and shaking that comes along with alcohol withdrawal.
  • In the place of benzodiazepines, barbiturates may also be prescribed. Phenobarbital and Secobarbital are the two most common, and they help to manage extreme anxiety.
  • Acamprosate is usually given to individuals who suffer from long-lasting withdrawal symptoms, by rebalancing glutamate and GABA in the brain. Some long-lasting symptoms include: anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Adjusting the brain and helping repair these neurotransmitters have been proven to aid in the recovery process.
  • To address cardiac arrhythmias and high blood pressure, beta-blockers are administered. Atenolol, propranolol, and metoprolol are the most frequently prescribed beta-blockers.
  • Clonidine is another medication that can be used in place of beta-blockers to help reduce blood pressure.
  • Individuals who have pre-existing seizure disorders, prior to alcohol addiction, but still may face seizures due to alcohol withdrawal, are frequently given the medication phenytoin.

These are just a few of the medications utilized in the alcohol detoxification process, all depending on the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, and the preference of the individual. If the symptoms are not severe, and the individual opts out of medication, extra emphasis will be put on nutritionally-supported detox.

Nutritional is always vitally important, especially in alcohol rehab. Prolonged and frequent consumption of alcohol impairs the digestive system and reduces the nutrient absorption into the blood. While, alcohol provides empty calories and suppresses the appetite of the individual. All of these negative factors combine to create a situations where the body is facing malnutrition and liver damage. Thus, creating a nutrient rich detox plan, and appealing meal choices is vital to helping recover in alcohol detox programs.

Alcohol withdrawal begins when the accustomed levels of alcohol in the body drop.

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