As with other drugs, the severity of alcohol withdrawal varies from individual to individual, the longer someone abuses alcohol, the worse the withdrawal.
Unfortunately, alcoholism may take years to develop. Unlike cocaine addiction (which may take only a few months to develop), the person may drink for ten to fifteen years before enduring the physical consequences of being an alcoholic.
After such a long time, alcohol—and the addiction—has been woven deeply into the fabric of the person’s life.
And compared to the illegal drugs, alcohol in one way or another has probably been associated with a wider variety of activities: weddings, family dinners, birthday parties, football games, holidays—celebrations of all kinds—have become associated with drinking.
It is not an easy pattern to break.
Detoxing from Alcohol
The lengthy time period and ingrained associations of alcoholism increase the difficulty of withdrawal, and no one with a severe drinking problem should try to quit cold on his own.
Hospital or inpatient rehabilitation detoxification provides the needed medical attention, including fluids, vitamins, rest, sedation to ease the symptoms, and sometimes other medications to control the potential toxic effects of withdrawal, such as delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are a form of alcoholic psychosis characterized by extreme anxiety, trembling, sweating, upset stomach, and chest pain.
Another more frequent need for residential rehabilitation detoxification is the possibility of having a potentially fatal grand mal seizure on day three of alcohol detoxification.This is another vital reason why alcohol detoxification is not for do-it-yourselfers.
Alcohol, and benzodiazepine, withdrawal and detoxification are the two most potentially lethal withdrawals of all drugs including oxycodone, fentanyl and carfentanil.
Medical alcohol detoxification is started when the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin to peak, usually within hours of the last drink.
A benzodiazepine kind to the liver (Librium, generic name chlordiazepoxide) is usually used because by the time Librium is needed, the person’s liver is very much damaged. The good news is that patients can measure how well their body is detoxifying, not only by noticing a gradual improvement in attitude and mood, but also by watching their liver enzyme numbers going down.
Remember, two beers daily for one week can show measurable liver changes.
Occasionally, the prescription medication Antabuse (generic name disulfiram) may be used for brief periods to help patients through the withdrawal. Like Librium or any other medication-assisted detox and rehabilitation, Antabuse should only be used to help patients maintain sobriety while receiving other forms of supportive and psychological treatment. Librium, Antabuse and other medication-assisted detox and rehabilitation prescription without other forms of recovery-sensitive supportive and therapy treatment is flirting with death.
Antabuse and its relatives are sometimes useful after detox because it discourages alcohol consumption by producing extremely unpleasant symptoms whenever the two substances are combined.
Antabuse should only be used under close medical supervision and for a short period of time. By no means is Antabuse a cure for alcoholism—in fact, it is unlikely that the medication by itself will have a long-term effect on the drinking patterns of the alcoholic.
Medication assisted detoxification with a detox-dispensed medicine such as Librium is a must with alcohol dependence. On the other hand, Librium without an alcohol dependence recovery therapy program is a grave disservice.
Medical detoxification with a concurrent alcohol dependence recovery therapy program is your ticket to ride sustained-recovery, as long as you leave the driving to the pros. Rely on trained medical professionals to help you through out the detox process, and you will be successful.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse problem, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support, at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.