Alcohol Detox – What is Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol detoxification is the sudden termination of alcohol consumption by people who are suffering from alcohol addiction. This procedure is frequently coupled with substitution of appropriate medication to avoid alcohol withdrawal so as to stop alcohol addiction. There are various methods, medicines and therapies used to facilitate withdrawal of alcohol from the body. It has been found that some procedures of detoxification may cause severe side effects and hinder recovery from alcohol addiction. These procedures should therefore be adopted with much care.

The first step in alcohol detox is to identify and treat the cause of symptoms like withdrawal and heavy drinking behavior. This is done through counseling and therapy. The severity of symptoms, their duration and the cause of them are the basis for the duration and type of alcohol detoxification recommended by specialists.

Many health professionals prefer inpatient care during detox because of the short-term care and comfort provided. The process of detox varies from one individual to another, based upon the severity of symptoms, duration of symptoms, severity of alcohol addiction and personal preferences of the patient. Generally, detox takes between four and eight weeks and during this time a combination of medication and psychological treatment is administered to patients. There are many outpatient clinics that offer detox services at a good cost, even though they are usually not covered by medical insurance.

The outpatient treatment options allow the patient to recover in his own home, under the close supervision of professionals. Symptoms of withdrawal include nervousness, restlessness, anxiety, fidgeting, insomnia, mood swings, depression, physical fatigue, and urges to consume alcohol. This process also involves medications to control symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, seizures, flu-like symptoms and dry mouth. The detox process should be undergone under the close medical supervision of experienced doctors or psychologists. The detox process should not be carried out if the person is at risk for relapse of the alcohol abuse.

Symptoms may include a feeling of nervousness and anxiety, difficulty in breathing, lightheadedness, shaking, depression, tremors, nausea and vomiting. However, these symptoms may vary from one individual to another and there are cases where there are no noticeable changes with the symptoms. For instance, one person may have severe depression while others may experience anxiety and tremors.

Alcohol abuse has many complications and therefore it requires treatment for full recovery and preventing relapse. During detoxification, medication and therapy is used to treat the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of an individual. Psychological treatment includes counseling, support and relief from alcohol. The detox process also helps in removing the physical and mental symptoms associated with alcohol abuse, which in turn eases the symptoms of anxiety, insomnia withdrawal symptoms and tremors.

First few days of detox are very challenging and the individual has to face a lot of withdrawal symptoms. However, the body slowly gets adjusted to the elimination of toxins through the detox program. Over time, the body will get used to receiving fewer toxins. When this happens, the symptoms may subside and the person may be able to tolerate the detox without any problems. It is important to start with a low dose of alcohol to test the body first.

The most common complication during alcohol detox is delirium tremens syndrome, which occurs when the brain is hyperactive or overactive. The syndrome is seizures with varying severity depending on the amount of alcohol taken. If the dosage of alcohol taken is large, it may result in a seizure or two followed by a trip to the hospital. People having this syndrome are warned about the possibility of seizures and to go slow if they are experiencing feelings of dizziness, loss of consciousness and unconsciousness. Delirium tremens syndrome develops when the brain does not adapt to its environment due to excessive alcohol intake.