Alcoholism is increasingly common in America, and more and more people are having to go through alcohol detox as a result. It is estimated that one in twelve American adults suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Several million more partake in dangerous drinking habits, but don’t fit the criteria to be technically addicted.
Alcoholism is Dangerous and Deadly
There is a mistaken safe perception of alcohol because it is legal, and getting “drunk” is a widely accepted social behavior. There is a gray area between having fun and drinking way too much, and people don’t usually realize alcohol addiction is happening until it is way too late. For these people, they may be ashamed to ask for help. Sometimes, they will try multiple times to cut down or quit on their own, to no avail. This leads to a cycle of relapse and regret which is unpleasant for anyone to be in.
Alcohol is unique compared to other drugs because of its legality and how widespread its use is. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2014, 87.6 percent of people in America over the age of eighteen reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime. That is nearly ninety percent. To show how dangerous alcohol is, here’s a compelling statistic.
- Nearly 90,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year. It is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States. 31 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related too.
Alcohol use is widespread, but for some reason, people aren’t aware of the extent of danger related to alcohol detox. Out of all the substances a person can do, alcohol withdrawal is one of the most severe, and also can be deadly if done independently. At The Florida House Experience, we strongly advise against detoxing from alcohol alone. Instead, medical supervision is necessary to ensure safety and comfort throughout the process.
Known as “alcohol withdrawal syndrome”, this potentially life-threatening condition can occur in anyone, especially those who drink heavily for weeks, months, or years and suddenly stop ingesting alcohol. Symptoms can occur as early as two hours after the last drink to weeks and months after stopping drinking.
The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms depends on the individual. They can vary from mild and barely noticeable to a life-threatening condition called Delirium Tremens. Even if a person feels fine, symptoms of alcohol detox can rapidly get worse. This is part of the reason why it is so important to be medically supervised and monitored throughout the process. Nurses, doctors, and therapists can intervene if severe symptoms occur and an unnecessary hospital trip can be avoided. Rather than allowing symptoms to worsen to the point of no return, medically supervised detox prevents them in the first place.
Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal
Heavy and long-term drinking is the number one reason people have a severe reaction to quitting. When people drink on a daily basis, the brain’s neurotransmitters are distrupted. As an example, alcohol initially enhances the effects of the neurotransmitter that produce feelings of happiness and calm. As abuse continues, these same neurotransmitters are suppressed and it takes more and more alcohol to feel the same effects. This is how tolerance is built up.
When alcohol is taken away, these neurotransmitters are no longer suppressed. As they come back to life, it is like an express train flying through a small town. Everything gets shaken up, things break, and people run away. In the brain, this translates to anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, sweating, and DTs.
The Severity of Alcohol Detox
Many people mistakenly think that alcohol detox is less severe than drug detox, but the truth is that it can be just as bad, if not worse. Alcohol detox occurs in people who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for a considerable amount of time. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and even life-threatening.
Everyone reacts to detox differently, just as each case of addiction is completely different. When a person first arrives at The Florida House Experience, they undergo an intensive medical and psychiatric evaluation, as long as a complete drug analysis. This helps us determine baselines like what is in the person’s system and any underlying medical or mental conditions. Right off the bat, we begin to treat everything that needs treatment, and we offer medication as necessary to aid in the detox process.
Alcohol detox symptoms may include:
- Delirium Tremens
The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is known as delirium tremens. Known as DTs, they usually happen to people with a severe history of prolonged alcohol abuse. DTs cause seizures, hallucinations, shaking and can cause death if left untreated. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
DTs can happen to anyone, but people who are most at risk are those who have been drinking long-term and stop abruptly. The body becomes so dependent on alcohol that the sudden removal of it sends the brain and functions out of regulation and the result is rapid onset of confusion. A similar reaction can occur when a person suddenly withdraws from regular use of benzos, or barbituates. Up to five percent of people who get DTs die as a result. As described above, alcohol withdrawal can worsen suddenly and without warning, so it is essential to be in a supervised environment in case the person who is detoxing becomes incoherent and unable to get help themselves.
Many people continue to drink alcohol or switch to benzos in order to avoid DTs. This is not advisable because it is only making the addiction continue. Getting help and detoxing in a medically-supervised environment is the only safe way to rid your body of alcohol and treat your dependence.
At The Florida House Experience, we create the most comfortable and safe environment during alcohol detox as possible. Patients are monitored 24/7 and staff are always on-hand if the need arises. We are the experts in treating any situation that may arise during alcohol withdrawal, so you can trust that you are in the safest hands possible.
Alcohol detox isn’t worth trying alone, especially if it has failed for you in the past. Detox can be so uncomfortable that it causes a person to relapse, and thus a cycle is born of drinking – trying to sober up – and relapsing. Getting treatment for alcoholism is taking you life back into your own hands. The first step is detox to get rid of the alcohol in your body, safely. After that, it is all about focusing on becoming healthier, stronger, and happier.