The process of detoxifying from alcohol takes from three to seven days. The length of time to complete the detox process varies from one person to another depending on type of alcoholic beverage typically consumed, length of time as an alcoholic, size of the person, and the tolerance level for alcohol.
Detox should only be undertaken with medical supervision, preferably a doctor’s. One of the safest methods for detoxifying the body is at an in-patient treatment center. Medical personnel who are trained and experienced in alcohol and drug withdrawal are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They can monitor vital signs, administer medications and ensure that adequate food and fluid intake is maintained.
In many cases the alcoholic isn’t 100% committed to this new way of life at the detox phase. The effects of detox can make even the strongest person pause. Knowingly subjecting yourself to possible tremors, anxiety, sweating, nausea and vomiting isn’t the most appealing idea. That’s why locating support before the detox process begins is critical.
Family members, friends, or co-workers can give advice, encouragement and support. For someone who’s not comfortable going to people he or she knows, Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar support groups can provide an anonymous source of assistance.
Once in the detox center, withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear anywhere from 3 hours to two days after the last drink. When the discomfort of withdrawal begins, the alcoholic is very likely to relapse without detox experts being on hand or nearby. That’s because, up to the point of detox, alcohol has always relieved the withdrawal symptoms, and the patient now wants the same relief using the same substance.
Instead, the detox process will use prescription drugs. Some, like Klonepin, are used to reduce the physical symptoms. This does not mean that the recovering alcoholic will not experience any withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. Klonepin and similar drugs will, however, ease the symptoms. The detox process might involve the shakes (delirium tremens, or DTs) rather than vomiting, or hyperactivity and sleeplessness rather than convulsions.
Administration of Klonepin and close medical monitoring may be all that’s needed to get the alcoholic through the withdrawal and detox phase. However, in approximately 1 out of 4 patients, an anticonvulsant like clonazepam or diazepam may be administered.
Recovery from alcohol addiction can’t take place until the alcoholic has gone through the detox process. While the drug (alcohol) is still in the body, the body craves more. It’s only after the body has been freed from the grip of the drug that the recovery process can begin.
True freedom from alcohol is a lifelong process. The alcoholic must first decide to stop drinking. Then he or she needs to detox from the alcohol, and once through detox move forward into lifelong recovery. It’s not the most pleasant process, but it’s definitely worth it. A support group and a good detox program can make all the difference between success and failure.