Starting alcohol detox treatment can be an intimidating process. You probably have a lot of questions about how it works, how you’re going to find and initiate the process, and how it’ll all turn out. We can’t answer all of your questions in a single, generic blog post, but we can definitely tackle some of the most common ones.
Here, we’ll take you through some of the core aspects of what you’ll experience when you enter the first stage of alcool abuse treatment near you. By the end of this post, you should be better equipped to seek out the appropriate treatment for your alcohol use disorder. You’ll know roughly what to expect in the process, and that can bring a lot of peace of mind for people who might be a little unsure. That’ll include potential symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, a common timeline for that process, and how alcohol abuse treatment near you often addresses those symptoms.
We’ll also touch on how to find alcohol abuse treatment near you so you can begin your recovery journey. If you’re in Missouri, you can always start with us here at Harris House, but we’ll get into that a little later. First, let’s define some of our terms.
What does alcohol detox treatment entail?
Alcohol detox is the first step in any alcohol treatment plan. It’s the stage where you have to get the alcohol (and any other substances you might be abusing) out of your system, and its severity will vary depending on the severity of your addiction.
You’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. Your brain and body become dependent on alcohol to function when you abuse it, and then when you stop, they send out distress signals in the form of withdrawal symptoms. These range from uncomfortable to life-threatening.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Mood swings
- Not thinking clearly
- Clammy skin
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- Tremor of the hands or other body parts
These are all very common when it comes to alcohol detox treatment. What’s not as common is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens. This condition occurs in people who have been drinking heavily every day for several months or those who have been drinking for more than 10 years. Symptoms often occur between 48 and 96 hours after the last drink, but they might also happen 7 to 10 days after the last drink. The symptoms can include:
- Severe confusion
- Body tremors
- Long, deep sleep
- Mood changes
- Sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
These symptoms might sound scary, and they’re definitely serious, but that’s why it’s a good idea to enter inpatient alcohol detox treatment. That way, medical professionals can oversee your detox process 24/7 and monitor your withdrawal symptoms, administering the correct kind of care when necessary.
Next, let’s look at how alcohol abuse treatment near you can mitigate the risks of some of these withdrawal symptoms.
What are the steps in alcohol detox treatment?
The following sections detail the different elements of an alcohol detox treatment program. Although we’ve laid them out separately, know that many of them often happen simultaneously. You’re not going to go through the process cleanly one step at a time.
Although your treatment team is likely going to have a lot of questions for you before you ever begin your detoxification process, they’re also going to do a thorough evaluation when you arrive at the facility. They’ll do all sorts of screenings, both mental and physical, so that they can have a complete picture of your health before they start treatment. This is where they might uncover co-occurring conditions with your alcohol use disorder.
There are certain medications that can help with the withdrawal symptoms we listed earlier. They can be hugely beneficial in alcohol detox treatment. Some medications can help prevent seizures, diminish nausea, or even decrease cravings. Other medications treat co-occurring psychological conditions, like depression, for example. Alcohol detox treatment can include a lot of different medications, and your alcohol detox treatment team will know which will be most helpful in your specific circumstance.
Some people are adverse to starting a medication for their addiction, worried that they’re trading one dependency for another. Know that this isn’t the case. The medical professionals in charge of your care know what they’re doing, and they wouldn’t prescribe you something that’s not helpful.
Even if someone doesn’t use medication during their alcohol detox treatment, they’ll still need to be observed by medical professionals. That’s one of the main reasons to go seek formal alcohol detox treatment rather than trying to do it on your own. Remember all those withdrawal symptoms we listed earlier, especially the severe ones? You’ll want to be in the care of a qualified professional if you’re experiencing any of those during detox.
This is a key part of any rehab program. You’re likely going to have a mix of individual and group counseling sessions. If your family is available, you might also participate in family counseling, but that often comes later in the treatment process. Sometimes you’ll go through alcohol detox treatment separate from other nearby alcohol abuse treatment, and other times it’s all combined into one program.
At least at first, though, your counselor is likely going to want to work with you on dealing with cravings, which are an intense part of the detoxification process. They’ll cover a lot of topics with you over the course of your treatment, which will range from education about the science of addiction to working with you on motivation and positive thinking.
How long does alcohol detox treatment last?
The detoxification phase of alcohol abuse treatment is going to take anywhere from four days to a month, in rare cases. The withdrawal symptoms most often occur in three stages. The first stage happens 6 to 12 hours after the last drink, and the symptoms experienced in that phase tend to be on the milder side. Headaches, stomach pains, and insomnia are all common in this stage. The second phase of alcohol detox is 12 to 48 hours after the last drink, and the symptoms are often more intense here. On top of those comparatively mild symptoms, you might experience hallucinations or even seizures. But many people’s symptoms don’t peak until the third phase of detox 48 to 72 hours after their last drink. That’s when the most acute symptoms, like fever, high blood pressure, and potentially delirium tremens are most likely to occur.
Some people also point to a fourth phase of post-acute symptoms during alcohol detox treatment, happening after the worst of those symptoms peak. You might experience decreased energy and metabolism as well as sleep disruption in this phase, and it could last hours or weeks.
Keep in mind that this is just a general guide, and your individual experience will differ. Like the kind and severity of withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience, the duration of the detox period is also going to depend on the severity of your addiction. The longer and more heavily you’ve been drinking, the longer and more severe your detox will be. Having your alcohol abuse treatment nearby in an inpatient setting will help to make sure any acute symptoms are properly managed.
Can’t I just detox on my own?
Many people would rather detox at home, as the idea of entering a treatment facility and stepping away from their lives for a while is overwhelming. But for all the reasons we just laid out, it’s really the best option to enter alcohol detox treatment. That way, medical professionals will be able to make sure your withdrawal symptoms are under control. Detoxing can be a dangerous period of recovery — some of the symptoms can even be life-threatening if they’re not properly managed and treated. That’s why it’s so important to be under the care of detox experts.
You’ll also be at a very high risk of relapsing during the detox phase. You’re going to experience intense cravings. When paired with the discomfort associated with detox, that’s a huge incentive to discontinue with the recovery process and relapse. However, if you’re in a supportive environment like an alcohol treatment center, then you’ll have qualified professionals helping you stay sober.
How do I find alcohol abuse treatment near me?
We’ve written extensively on how to find alcohol abuse treatment nearby in another post, which you can read here if you’ve got the time. We did focus on finding alcohol abuse treatment in Missouri, so if you’re from our home state, you’re covered. However, if you’d rather not click over to an entirely different post, we get it. We’ll try to briefly summarize it.
Basically, you can start by looking up “alcohol abuse treatment near me” and sifting through the results. From there, you’ll want to contact any of the facilities you’re considering, asking them any questions you have about their process, philosophy, staff, and payment options, as well as anything else you need an answer to before you make a decision. Then, you can size up your options and make a choice.
If you’re in the St. Louis area and looking for alcohol abuse treatment nearby, then Harris House might be a good fit. We’d be happy to have a conversation about our programs and how they might fit your needs. We create an individualized treatment program for all of our clients, and if you’re accepted to one of our programs, we’ll tailor your treatment to your specific needs.
What should I do to prepare for alcohol abuse treatment near me?
The specific program you’re considering will have more information on what they recommend for their clients before they enter treatment. Assuming you’re looking at inpatient treatment, they’ll be able to give you a list of what you can and can’t bring to the facility, and they’ll have ideas on how to best prepare for their specific program.
No matter where you’re seeking inpatient treatment, it’s a good idea to make sure your family knows what’s going on. Will you need someone to care for your children while you’re in treatment? Does your employer know that you’ll be taking medical leave? Do you have somebody lined up to water your plants? These are all questions that might get lost in the shuffle of getting into rehab, but they’re important loose ends to make sure you can focus on getting better and not any outstanding responsibilities at home.
If you’re entering alcohol abuse treatment nearby, then you might be expecting to see your friends and family a lot while you’re in treatment. This might not be the case. Your time during treatment, even alcohol abuse treatment near you, is going to be strictly structured, not leaving much time for visitors, if any at all. While you’ll likely participate in family therapy if you’re in alcohol abuse treatment near to where they are, you probably won’t have much time to communicate freely with anybody outside the facility. This is all by design. You need to stay focused on your recovery, and limiting your access to your life before (and potential bad influences) is a big part of that.
Feel free to reach out if you have more questions.
We think we’ve got a pretty good start on the main questions people ask when they’re considering alcohol detox treatment, but of course, we can’t anticipate every concern or query you might have. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you have a question that we didn’t answer in this piece. If you’re seeking nearby alcohol abuse treatment, then you’re going to have a lot of questions specific to your experiences and circumstances that only qualified professionals can answer after hearing a little bit about your situation. We’re here for you if you need us.
Here at Harris House, we pride ourselves on offering great alcohol detox treatment to clients from all over Missouri and beyond. We’re located in St. Louis, and you can reach us here to start a conversation about how we might be a good fit for alcohol abuse treatment near you.