Alcohol Detoxification


Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal. When an excessive drinker suddenly quits drinking alcohol, he or she usually experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol detoxification is a treatment methodology that focuses on managing and regulating the alcohol detox symptoms and the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a safe manner so that the body can naturally eliminate the alcohol that still remains in the body.

When the alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe, alcohol detoxification frequently involves doctor-prescribed medications to help the drinker get through the detox process safely and in the least painful manner possible.

Alcohol Detoxification and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol detoxification is a widely available, "mainstream" form of alcoholism treatment that is typically conducted under the direction of a health care professional.

In fact, alcohol detoxification is often employed as the first step in an alcoholic treatment protocol.


Due primarily to the relatively long time-period required for the detox procedure, these types of intervention are frequently part of an inpatient alcohol rehab program.

Recent research findings in the alcoholism literature has revealed the importance treating every person who experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

It should be realized, however, that roughly speaking 95%of the people who stop drinking alcohol encounter mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and can typically be treated on an out-patient basis by an alcoholism professional.

The other 5% of the individuals who undergo alcohol withdrawal symptoms, however, experience symptoms so extreme that they need to be treated in a hospital or in a rehabilitation facility that specializes in alcohol detoxification.

Alcohol Detoxification and Prescribed Medications

Many researchers and medical practitioners strongly feel that chronic alcoholics who cannot maintain their abstinence from alcohol or those who suffer from excessive alcohol withdrawal symptoms need to receive drug therapy to manage and regulate their withdrawal symptoms.

It is important to emphasize, furthermore, that by using doctor-prescribed medications, alcoholics are less likely to experience possible seizures and/or brain damage during the alcohol withdrawal process.

According to the research literature, the drugs with the highest probability of producing effective results when treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the benzodiazepines.

Examples include the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Ativan and Serax and the longer-acting benzodiazepines such as Librium and Valium.

From a historical viewpoint, when medical practitioners have administered benzodiazepines they have utilized a progressive decrease in dosage over the time-frame of the withdrawal procedure.

Since the shorter-acting benzodiazepines do not stay in the individual's system for an extreme period of time and due to the fact that they allow measurable dose reductions, more than a few researchers and doctors have stated that short to intermediate half-life benzodiazepines should be administered when treating severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

After the person has overcome his or her symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and successfully completed the detox process, other doctor-prescribed drugs such as naltrexone (ReViaT) or disulfiram (Antabuse) can be administered to help prevent the individual from returning to drinking after he or she has suffered a drinking relapse.

For example, antabuse is a drug that can be given to alcoholics that triggers negative outcomes such as flushing, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea if alcohol is consumed.

It should come as no surprise that antabuse "works" so effectively mainly because it is such a potent deterrent. The drug, naltrexone (ReViaT), however, is employed in a totally different manner in that it targets the brain's reward centers, thereby effectively reducing the craving the alcoholic has for alcohol.

Non-Drug Alcohol Detoxification

There is a number of different non-drug alcoholism interventions that are available for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Indeed, according to recent research studies, it seems likely that the safest way to treat mild withdrawal symptoms is without drugs.

Such non-drug alcohol detox protocols are effective because they employ extensive social support and screening throughout the entire withdrawal process. Other non-drug alcohol detoxification therapies, furthermore, use vitamin therapy (especially thiamin) and proper nutrition when treating mild alcohol detox symptoms and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Detoxification: Inpatient Versus Outpatient Status

It needs to be emphasized that according to recent research studies, inpatient alcohol withdrawal treatment has been demonstrated to be more effective and longer-lasting than outpatient treatment.

The general rule, therefore, seems to be the following: the more extreme the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, the more that inpatient treatment interventions should be utilized.

Conclusion: Alcohol Detoxification

Although 95% of the people who quit drinking alcohol encounter mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, every individual who experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms should receive professional alcohol detoxification treatment.

Due to the fact that the alcohol detox symptoms and the alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the most difficult part of the alcohol detoxification process with which to handle and cope, the essential message regarding these symptoms is this: when experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, always see your doctor or healthcare professional immediately so that he or she can assess the severity of your condition and suggest the intervention that is the most appropriate and effective for your particular circumstances.

Keep in mind that detoxing from alcohol is only one step in the alcohol treatment process. If you want to become sober and live an alcohol-free lifestyle, however, you should also consider getting professional alcohol treatment.