Alcohol withdrawal can sometimes be severe enough to cause seizures, heart problems, and death in those who try recovering from alcohol addiction on their own. Alcohol detox is a service that provides 24-hour medical care and supervision to help people safely withdraw from alcohol with a reduced risk for complications. The key to experiencing a safe alcohol detox involves finding the right treatment center that uses a range of interventions proven to help experience a healthy recovery.
Below are ways to undergo a safe withdrawal and detox from alcohol:
Find an Inpatient or Residential Alcohol Rehab Program
Alcohol rehab centers usually offer several programs and levels of care to accommodate every patient’s unique recovery needs. Detox can be performed in either an outpatient or inpatient setting. However, research suggests that inpatient detox programs offer the safest setting for alcohol withdrawal.
Inpatient detox programs are often included as part of inpatient and residential rehab programs. These programs allow you to live and stay at the treatment center throughout alcohol withdrawal so you can be carefully monitored and supported 24 hours per day. This option is highly beneficial for those who lack support when attempting to detox at home or who are experiencing delirium tremens.
Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause hallucinations, seizures, and irregular heartbeat. An estimated 5% of patients with delirium tremens die from this condition, though the risk for death is significantly lower among those who receive medical support during withdrawal at an inpatient rehab center.
Another benefit of inpatient alcohol detox is separation from societal and environmental triggers that may increase the risk for relapse, such as work-related stress and spending time with friends who drink alcohol. An inpatient environment allows you to focus fully on your recovery without distractions or access to alcohol.
Find an Alcohol Detox Center that Uses Medications
Certain medications can help relieve symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and reduce the risk for cardiac problems and seizures. Benzodiazepines are recognized as the best medications for treating symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, followed by anticonvulsants.
Benzodiazepines reduce the risk for seizures and delirium tremens, while anticonvulsants may be used to treat milder symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, since these medications offer reduced sedation and a lower risk for dependence and abuse.
The dose of benzodiazepines used in alcohol detox varies from patient to patient based on their average daily alcohol intake. Patients generally start taking higher doses of benzodiazepines at the start of detox, and are gradually tapered off their medications as withdrawal symptoms dissipate. Like alcohol, benzodiazepines are habit-forming and carry a risk for dependence. These medications should only be used short-term to prevent continued problems with drug dependence and addiction.
Some alcohol detox centers also prescribe maintenance medications that are approved by the FDA for use in treating alcohol use disorder. These medications are disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone—all of which work to promote abstinence from alcohol.
Disulfiram produces unpleasant side effects such as nausea, headache, and chest pain when used in combination with alcohol. People who use disulfiram and who drink alcohol can experience these and other uncomfortable symptoms within 10 minutes of drinking any amount of alcohol. Acamprosate reduces the desire to drink alcohol, while naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol. If you’ve experienced difficulty with trying to stay sober after quitting drinking in the past, you may benefit from using one or more of these medications.
Eat Healthy, Nutritious Foods
Many who suffer from alcohol dependence and addiction are malnourished due to the way alcohol prevents the body from properly absorbing essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Alcohol addiction may also cause people to neglect their diets and nutrition in favor of seeking and using high amounts of alcohol. Eating healthy, nutritious foods during alcohol detox can help restore nutrients that were lost on behalf of addiction. A healthy diet can also contribute to higher energy levels and a stronger immune system.
Nutritious meals play a vital role in recovery from alcohol addiction and are often included as part of many treatment programs. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C are just some vitamins commonly administered to patients during detox that can also be obtained through many foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, and whole grains are just some examples of healthy, whole foods that can help restore nutrients in the body while recovering from alcohol dependence.
Engage in Sober Activities
Evidence suggests that newly sober patients may relapse to relieve withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and alcohol cravings. However, staying busy and filling your time with a variety of sober activities can help you stay abstinent. The highly structured environments provided by alcohol rehab centers can often help you get safely through detox without relapsing.
When you feel as though you’re on the verge of relapse, engage yourself in sober activities to take your mind off alcohol. Call your best friend or a relative, watch a movie, go for a walk, or do a workout. You can also try showering, starting a new book, or meditating and practicing mindfulness.
Many alcohol rehab centers offer recreational therapies to help patients find new hobbies and interests after recovering from alcohol dependence. Art therapy, music therapy, and hiking are examples of fun recreational therapies that can fill your time and keep your mind occupied. Some treatment centers also offer game rooms, libraries, gyms, and outdoor sports areas to support a healthier lifestyle after addiction. When researching your options for rehab centers, look for those that offer plenty of recreational therapies and fun activities.
Attend Therapy Sessions and Support Group Meetings
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as six hours after the last drink and are most severe after 36 and 72 hours. After your symptoms have peaked, you may begin attending therapy sessions and regular support group meetings.
Alcohol rehab programs are designed to help you achieve long-term abstinence from alcohol. These programs consist of many individual and group therapy sessions that help you recover from psychological addiction, and that help you change harmful thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors about alcohol use. When you’ve completed your detox program, these educational therapies can help you stay sober and avoid future visits to rehab.
One-on-one therapy with a licensed counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist gives you the opportunity to talk openly about your struggles surrounding alcohol addiction. These sessions help you identify and recognize the root cause of your addiction and why you started drinking in the first place. You’ll also identify your personal triggers and learn of ways to cope with and manage those triggers to avoid relapse. Examples of common triggers are sporting events, parties, stress, physical pain, and major life changes such as divorce and retirement.
Group therapy sessions and support group meetings are useful at helping you resocialize and bond with peers who understand your struggles with alcohol addiction. These sessions expose you to new coping strategies and teach you invaluable skills for resisting urges to drink. Group therapy also helps you rebuild your confidence and self-esteem, and overcome feelings of isolation that are common among those with substance use disorders. Many alcohol rehab centers host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings so you can attend daily and weekly meetings.
All these behaviors and activities can help you experience a safe alcohol detox. When searching for rehab centers, make sure the facility incorporates these key points into their treatment programs. Summer House Detox Center offers drug and alcohol detox services in a relaxed, luxurious setting to help you experience a fulfilling and lasting recovery from addiction. If you or a loved one needs alcohol detox in Fort Lauderdale, contact us today at 800-719-1090 to learn more about our available alcohol rehab programs. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.