If you love someone who is an alcoholic, or you are struggling with your own alcohol problem, you may be interested in the process of alcohol detoxification. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life threatening, depending on the severity of the addiction, and detoxification can help with this process.
Alcohol detoxification is simply eliminating alcohol from the body and providing medical assistance for the symptoms of withdrawal that accompany this process. Medical professionals will generally prescribe a limited course of treatment with one of several drugs developed for this purpose. The most common is called Chlordiazepoxide.
While I do not like the use of drugs in most cases, I do concede that in certain instances, such as this, they can be extremely helpful and effective in helping someone to recover from a harmful addiction.
The treatment will usually last about a week. The dosage is highest on the first day, with declining amounts on the following days. This allows the highest dosage to be used at the time when the effects of withdrawal are strongest. Close supervision by a medical professional is usually required, and the patient must agree to discontinue all alcohol use during the treatment time.
Without treatment, an alcoholic who suddenly discontinues the use of alcohol can experience mild symptoms like sweating, cravings for alcohol and trembling. More severe withdrawal symptoms can include delirium tremens, hallucinations and even convulsions in a small percentage of patients.
The detoxification drugs help the body eliminate alcohol and limit these uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms.
With the use of drugs like Chlordiazepoxide, withdrawal is less dangerous and more comfortable than it would be without medicine. Most users still experience some trouble sleeping, nervousness and irritability, though.
Detoxification only addresses the physical issues of alcoholism, though, and many professional endorse a combined therapy that includes counselling or a 12 step program to follow the detoxification process. Most contend that the cravings for alcohol, both physical and psychological, will remain long after it is out of the system. Counselling and continued treatment is required to help the patient change their attitudes and resist returning to alcohol use.
In addition to counselling and support, there are several drugs that may be prescribed to help avoid a relapse and make recovery easier. Acamprosate helps reduce cravings and another drug, Disulfiram, will make the user sick if they ingest alcohol.
There is no shame in asking for assistance with an alcohol problem. Most family doctors and counsellors can prescribe the detoxification treatment or make the appropriate referrals. Take advantage of the assistance available; recovering from alcoholism is an often difficult road.
Using the help available can be the difference between recovery and relapse, so ask your healthcare professional about detoxification.