The discomfort associated with alcohol detoxification is one of the most common reasons why alcoholics fail to quit. The symptoms can begin anywhere from 6 to 48 hours after drinking stops, and they can be extremely uncomfortable from the very start. That's why so many alcoholics' lose their gung-ho spirit about quitting so quickly; The symptoms of alcohol detoxification only take a few hours to set in, and they can be so bad that the alcoholic may feel an intestinal urge to drink just to make them stop.
The good news is that with medical treatment, alcohol detoxification does not have to be so bad. Modern medicine has developed a number of highly effective ways to balance out the negative symptoms so that the detox stage can be reliably pain-free. Of course, in order to receive this treatment, the alcoholic must enter a rehab program.
The most common side effects of alcohol detoxification include:
- Irritability and anxiety
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Difficulty concentrating
In more serious cases, people going through alcohol detoxification may experience seizures or delirium tremens, a temporary condition characterized by tremor, disorientation, hallucinations, agitation, and elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
Alcoholics seeking to end their habit have multiple options. Inpatient treatment is considered the most effective route for making the alcohol detoxification stage as pain-free as possible. But these days, many people weather this phrase through various outpatient methods. Of course, inpatient treatment is best for recovering alcoholics who experience severe withdrawal symptoms, but outpatient treatment can be effective for anyone whose symptoms are mild.
In many alcohol treatment programs, patients are given prescription medications to balance out the side effects of withdrawal. For the first week or so, whether it's inpatient or outpatient treatment, the patient meets with the doctor at least once a day to adjust the medication. The worst side effects usually subside after two to four days, and lingering effects can last for a week or two. After that, the post-detox recovery phase can begin.