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Step 2 - Alcohol Detox

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

You may have heard horror stories about detoxing and are therefore scared that you will not be able to cope with it. This is often the primary reason those with alcohol addiction fail to get the help they need. While detoxing can result in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, with the right support and care, these are manageable and do not have to be unbearable.

It is important to realise that most alcoholics will require a detox programme before they can begin rehabilitation. It is necessary to eliminate all traces of alcohol from the system for rehabilitation to work effectively. A recovering alcoholic needs a clear mind and body before rehab can begin.

On arrival at the rehab clinic, you will be assessed by the doctor, and a plan will be put in place to ensure that detox is as comfortable as possible for you. If medication is to be provided during the detox, this will be prescribed by the doctor beforehand and administered by medical staff where required.

The Detox Process

Many people about to embark on a programme of detoxification will be concerned about how long the process will take. It is important to realise that the process will vary, depending on a number of factors. These can include:

  • your age
  • your physical and mental wellbeing
  • the length of time you have been abusing alcohol
  • the amount of alcohol you have been consuming
  • any other medications you are taking.

During the detox, you will be carefully monitored to ensure your safety at all times. If for any reason, the medical staff assigned to you are worried, they will call for the doctor to evaluate your situation. You will be kept as comfortable as possible throughout the process, and your safety will be the number one priority. During the detox, you will be encouraged to rest and to eat regularly. You will also be advised to avoid strenuous physical activities.

You can expect to be given regular urine tests during the process to ensure that you are not taking any medications that have not been prescribed by staff.

What to Expect

Despite the horror stories being just that, you may still be concerned about what to expect during the process – this is entirely understandable. It is true that many people suffer some form of withdrawal symptoms as their body tries to get back to normal now that they have stopped drinking alcohol. However, the severity of these symptoms will vary from person to person, and most of them can be prevented or managed in a good medical facility. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • sweating
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • agitation
  • headache
  • stomach ache
  • confusion
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • muscle cramps
  • aggression
  • memory loss
  • seizures
  • paranoia.

The above are just a few examples of withdrawal symptoms that may occur during detoxification from alcohol. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that many people do not experience any symptoms while some others will experience one or two mild symptoms.

We would also like to remind you that detoxing in a supervised facility will ensure that any withdrawal symptoms you do experience are managed and carefully monitored to ensure your safety at all times.

Detox withdrawal symptoms are temporary and will pass in a few days or weeks. Once you have completed a programme of detox, you will be ready to begin rehabilitation, from which you will learn how to live a clean and healthy sober life and will be given the tools you need to reintegrate back into society while avoiding temptations and triggers. Detox is the first step on the road to recovery and while it may be unpleasant, it is a necessary step when it comes to overcoming your alcohol addiction and beginning a new chapter in your life.

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