11 Dangers of Alcohol Detox
What Happens to My Body When I Stop Drinking?
Quitting drinking is not as easy as it may sound to somebody who has never been through the process or is unaware of the dangers of alcohol detox. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system, interfering with how brain neurons fire and disrupting messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Two of the neurotransmitters that are affected by drinking are:
Dopamine – a vital brain chemical that regulates feelings of enjoyment, attention, mood, motivation, cognition, and energy levels. Dopamine is released when you drink alcohol; over time, the brain becomes dependent on having alcohol in your system. When you stop drinking, dopamine production stops, causing withdrawal symptoms to arise and increasing the dangers of alcohol detox within the body.
Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) – this is the primary neurotransmitter that is affected by drinking. It produces the endorphins that make you feel good, and, like dopamine, the brain becomes accustomed to only producing GABA when alcohol is present in your system. When you stop drinking, GABA production slows, causing negative physical and psychological symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal is the name for the discomfort and dangers of alcohol detox that come up when you stop drinking. The brain sends distress signals out to the rest of the body, making you feel pain, discomfort, and anxiety, and in some cases, it can lead to serious health consequences and even death. The lack of alcohol in your system causes the physically dependent person’s body to make chemical adjustments within itself as it strives to create a new equilibrium while removing toxins from your system.
The feelings caused during detox can be seriously distressing and painful for some people, so much so that relapse may feel like the only option without professional care. For this reason, quitting drinking should only be done under medical supervision, and in most cases, it is best if you detox within an accredited medically supervised detox center.
What Is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox is the natural process the body goes through as it removes the toxins and waste products from the body after heavy or long-term drinking. The brain needs time to adjust to the lack of alcohol it has become accustomed to having, and the body may produce distressing withdrawal symptoms in response. The longer you have been drinking, and the more drugs and alcohol you have been using, the more likely it is that you will suffer ill effects when you try and quit, especially if you attempt to quit cold turkey, a dangerous and sometimes lethal approach when it comes to alcohol.
To keep a person safe during alcohol detox, many centers offer medical detox programs that provide 24-hour medical supervision by professional doctors and nurses. They also offer counseling, therapy programs, prescription medications, and other treatments like holistic care that can help you rest and avoid the pain, anxiety, and other distressing withdrawal symptoms that may come up. In these centers, you will live inside a safe, sober residence with food and accommodation provided, spending an average of five to 10 days in full-time care as your body’s dependence on alcohol is treated. Detox is a process that should always be followed by a rehabilitation process, as it does not cure addiction on its own.
Top 11 Dangers of Alcohol Detox
Some of the top dangers of alcohol detox that your detox team will help you avoid through medical care and administration of prescription medications could include:
- Extreme discomfort and distress
- Intense cravings that lead to relapse
- Severe dehydration due to high blood pressure, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Vitamin depletion and malnourishment due to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
- Anxiety and depression, with suicidal thoughts
- Heart failure or other heart issues
- Injuries due to cognitive dysfunction, confusion, and lack of physical coordination
- Kidney or liver dysfunction
- Seizures and other irregular brain activity
- High fever can lead to body and brain damage.
- Delirium Tremens (“the DTs”) feature hallucinations, increased heart rate and fast breathing, seizures, fever, sweating, and extreme agitation and confusion that can lead to death if untreated.
See which musicians died from alcohol addiction in our blog below:
What You Can Expect During Alcohol Detox
Every detox center is different, but during most detox programs, you can expect the following:
- Intake – a comprehensive review of any medical issues you may have, your psychological state, and an interview to find out more about you, your recovery goals, and your treatment needs.
- Medication – medication helps you with discomfort, pain, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, hallucinations, anxiety, shaking, restlessness, blood pressure issues, insomnia, and depression. With full-time medical care and prescription medications, you will avoid the dangerous and deadly withdrawal symptoms of quitting alcohol.
- Stabilization – medical care, physical therapies, counseling, and mental health treatments will help you reach a balance within your mind and body, usually, within five to 10 days, that will allow you to move forward in your treatment as you begin to take back control over your health and wellness.
Muse Treatment Center Offers Alcohol Detox
At the Muse Addiction Treatment Center, we offer safe detox programs that will keep you safe from the dangers of alcohol detox. The first step is a medical exam and a psychiatric screening to ensure you are physically stable enough to detox immediately. This process helps us determine the proper medications, care, mental health/dual diagnosis treatments, and types of therapy that will work for you and your unique needs as we work to keep you healthy and safe as the alcohol leaves your body.
Our non-judgmental, highly credentialed, and experienced team of caregivers has a 24-hour nursing staff, including a nurse practitioner on-site daily and a head nurse who is a certified registered nurse (RN). You will be given the care and support you need, day and night, to stay safe and comfortable as you live in our detox facility. After five to 10 days, we will help you transition into the next appropriate phase of treatment, an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. Some clients require further detox treatment in a longer-term customized medication-assisted treatment program.
Inpatient rehab is 30 to 90 days, living within our treatment center with approximately 6 hours a day of structured treatment sessions, including therapy, groups, and other programs. You will stay in a comfortable room with a full-sized bed and TV and be provided with fresh, healthy food (including healthy foods to stave off cravings like chicken, fish, nuts, fresh fruits/vegetables, etc.), exercise programs, and access to games, movies, and other entertainment in your off hours.
Outpatient treatment takes many forms with Muse Addiction Treatment Center, including the Partial Hospitalization Program (a structured day program that runs six days a week for full days of treatment). We also offer an Intensive Outpatient Program (flexible treatments that can be scheduled around your life, work, and family needs). In outpatient treatment, you will live outside the facility and come in for appointments, therapy, and other care as you transition back to your normal lifestyle on your own terms.
Please call us at (800) 426-1818 today to discuss the alcohol detox and rehab options with our care providers. We can answer any questions you may have, help you verify insurance coverage, or get you started on your road to recovery right away.