What’s The Deal with Alcohol Detox?
Not everyone who drinks alcohol requires alcohol detox. Some people can have a drink or two. And then, they can stop. Even binge drinkers do not tend to develop alcohol use disorder (AUD). But not everyone has that experience. Sometimes alcohol digs into people.
In Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief Bromden recalls his father’s alcoholism. He explains, “The last time I saw my father, he was blind in the cities from drinking, and every time he put the bottle to his mouth, he doesn’t suck out of it. It sucks out of him.”
Alcohol can suck the life out of us. Some of us need help and treatment. Alcohol detox can provide the first step in that process. NYC Addiction Resources shall explore the following topics:
- What does alcohol do to the body and the mind?
- What is alcohol use disorder?
- What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome? Does it have a timeline?
- How does alcohol detox help a person?
- What if I want more information about alcohol detox?
What Does Alcohol Do To The Body And The Mind?
Alcohol comes in many forms—beer, wine, whiskey, rum, vodka, and tequila. You likely know some of these words. Like anything we drink, alcohol flows down our esophagus. It ends up in our stomachs. Some of the alcohol gets broken down in the stomach. The rest absorbs into the blood via the small intestine. Our liver cleanses the alcohol out of our blood. When we drink faster than the liver breaks the alcohol down, we become drunk.
When alcohol enters the brain, it affects how we think and behave. Alcohol negatively affects the hippocampus. The hippocampus controls our memories. This explains why we have trouble remembering things after drinking. Our hippocampus does not function properly. Drunkenness also impairs brain parts responsible for movement, speech, and impulse control.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by a problematic pattern of alcohol use that can lead to significant impairment or distress. It is also commonly referred to as alcoholism or alcohol addiction. AUD can range in severity, with mild, moderate, and severe subtypes. It can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional based on specific criteria.
Someone may have AUD if they (within the last year):
- Cannot think of anything besides drinking
- Keep drinking despite relationship problems
- Spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
- Gave up enjoyable activities to continue to drink
- Tried to quit cold turkey but could not
What Is Alcohol Withdrawal? Does It Have A Timeline?
When a person becomes dependent on alcohol, they may suffer from alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome refers to a specific cluster of symptoms. These symptoms befall a dependent person who deprives themselves of alcohol. Withdrawal occurs because the brain has become used to alcohol. In effect, the brain needs alcohol to function correctly.
Some symptoms of AWS:
- Insomnia: can’t fall (or stay) asleep
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trembling or shaking
Alcohol withdrawal can begin as soon as 6 hours after the most recent drink. The alcohol withdrawal timeline typically lasts about a week. In worse cases, it may last longer.
Delirium tremens remain among the worst alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It can bring a slew of health complications with it. People in the throes of delirium tremens experience things like:
- High blood pressure
- Quicker heart rate
Delirium tremens will likely require immediate medical attention. You may witness someone with these symptoms. Or, you may have endured them yourself. In such situations, remain as calm as possible. Call 911 and request an ambulance.
How Does Alcohol Detox Help A Person?
Detox has become a shortened version of the word “detoxification.” Detox means removing toxins. It involves tapering a person off alcohol over some time. As mentioned above, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can feel incredibly painful. In some cases, they even prove fatal.
Inpatient alcohol detox offers a residential treatment service. Those with severe withdrawal symptoms have access to medical attention. Alcohol dehydrates the body. To keep a person hydrated, a detox protocol might give them an IV. To help with their mental health, this person might receive additional medication.
Clients with less severe symptoms may opt instead for outpatient alcohol detox. This means that they reside in their own home and commute for treatment. Ideally, someone choosing this option will have help from a family member, friend, or confidant.
What If I Want More Information About Alcohol Detox?
NYC Addiction Resources feels relieved that you’ve read this far. Consider this a turning point. If not in your life, then in the life of someone you care about.
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction to alcohol, give us a call. Not ready to talk yet? No problem. Please send us an email instead.