Some drugs can kill you, even when you stop using them.
The common link between drugs is that they all cause long-term damage. Most, if not all, chronic drug use will cause some withdrawal symptoms when you stop regular use. Some drugs are mentally addicting and others create a physical dependence. Typically drugs that are physically addicting are the ones that require medically assisted detoxification and inpatient rehab.
Physically addicting drugs include:
- Opiates (Heroin, Fentanyl, Prescription Pain Medication)
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Librium, Valium, Ativan)
The most dangerous drugs are sometimes the most socially acceptable ones. It’s true alcohol isn’t illegal… but it is still a drug.
The physical dependence on alcohol is a vicious cycle. Drinking compromises your health and damages your body, but simultaneously your body starts to literally depend on its presence to function properly. Your body depends on you to drink, and you keep damaging your body more when you do.
While not all treatment centers offer both residential detox and inpatient services, Opus Health understands that both aspects sometimes are necessary for long-term success. We want to offer the best chance to succeed, so our services include medically assisted detoxification as well as residential inpatient programs to give you a fully integrated rehabilitation experience.
Trying to detox from home is very dangerous and can be deadly. If you or someone you know may need to detox, here’s some information to consider.
Why would I need to detox? It’s just alcohol…
It’s common to underestimate just how dangerous alcohol is. Alcohol is socially acceptable pretty much everywhere; it’s legal and, according to the NIAAA (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), 85% of adults admit to drinking it. It’s not seen as a big deal to grab drinks with a coworker, pick up a six-pack on the ride home, or have wine with dinner. Alcohol even gets glorified in our culture. Just turn on the radio, and you’re basically guaranteed to hear a song about drinking and having the time of your life.
Ironically, alcohol is actually the most dangerous drug you can use. According to statistics provided by the Government Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Excessive alcohol use is responsible for more than 95,000 deaths in the United States each year, or 261 deaths per day.” Alcohol isn’t just the most dangerous drug to use; it’s also the most dangerous drug to stop using. Detoxing from other drugs, like heroin, may cause extreme discomfort but will only result in death due to other existing medical conditions. Alcohol is the only drug that has isolated withdrawal symptoms that could kill you.
Why is it important to detox in a recovery center?
Recovery centers are the recommended environment to detox in because detox programs offer medical assistance. You have round-the-clock access to medical professionals, and they have round-the-clock access to monitor your vital signs. Since detox from alcohol is dangerous and sometimes fatal, having a medical team helps you minimize any chance of complications.
When you use a medically assisted recovery center to detox, you will also usually have access to their aftercare treatment options, including inpatient rehab. Inpatient rehab is part of a long-term approach to treating substance abuse from beginning to end.
Comfort is another benefit of inpatient detox. Many of your withdrawal symptoms happen as a result of chemical or physiological changes in your body. Medically supported detox programs will supplement the deficiencies you’re experiencing and help ease the discomfort and mitigate withdrawal symptoms.
What are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?
Alcohol dependence withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly intense to life-threatening. The longevity and severity of your alcohol use disorder (AUD) play a role in the symptoms you experience. People who have engaged in heavy drinking for years are more likely to develop severe withdrawal symptoms. Some examples of what you might encounter are:
Delirium tremens (DTs) are among the most severe alcohol withdrawal effects and can be fatal. DTs can start within two to five days after your last drink and display as a combination of symptoms such as shaking, confusion, high blood pressure, fever, and hallucinations.
- Head & Body Aches
- Delirium Tremens
- Heart Failure
Why You Should Never Detox at Home:
1. It is dangerous:
Medically assisted detox programs minimize the chance of any complications and protect against more severe and life-threatening symptoms.
2. It is less successful:
There will be moments of weakness where you will want to drink. Residential inpatient eliminates the option of caving in.
3. It is harder:
The process of detoxing from alcohol is extremely uncomfortable and can be painful. Without medically assisted treatments to ease your symptoms, detox could be unbearable.
4. It might be part of the problem:
Your home may be the source of stress or triggers. Home may be where you even do most of your drinking. A different environment is healthy for growth.
5. It puts you at a higher risk of relapse:
Even if you are successful with detoxing at home, the aftercare of being inpatient helps the most with being in control of your dependency.
Do I Need Inpatient Rehab After I Detox?
Detox alone is not treatment, but it is the first step towards the goal of recovery when battling alcohol dependence. Detoxing handles the initial physical struggles of substance abuse, but treating the mental aspect of addiction is what will keep you from ever having to go through detox again.
Inpatient rehab is widely considered the most viable treatment method to overcome alcohol addiction and successfully maintain long-term sobriety. A combination of medical assistance and therapeutic counseling will address the root cause of your drinking and equip you with the tools to handle obstacles you may encounter when you leave treatment.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol?
So, how long will it take you to complete your alcohol detox? The answer is: it depends. It depends on your alcohol addiction, how you’re detoxing, and any other underlying health issues you might have.
For some people, the whole detox process can last around one week. Their symptoms kick in a few hours after their last drink. Then they peak within the first few days, then get better in the second half of the week. But this is usually the case for people with mild alcohol addiction. These are people that maybe haven’t been drinking persistently for that long but have recognized the need to address this issue.
For others, it can take weeks to detox from alcohol. The withdrawal symptoms kick in very quickly and can persist for a good couple of weeks. More often than not, people who experience long detoxes have a high dependency on alcohol. They may have been drinking consistently for years on end, so their body is so used to having alcohol in its system. This makes it harder to flush out, hence the extended withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol addiction is more common than you might think. There are various ways of treating this, and the best course of action is to undergo a proper treatment plan that looks at different treatment options. More often than not, the first step on the road to recovery is alcohol detox.
Alcohol detox is something that can technically be done by yourself or with the help of others, and it’s proven to be extremely effective. There are a few concerns you may have, and plenty of questions that might be at the forefront of your mind.
Primarily, most people want to know how long it takes to detox from alcohol. We can’t give a straight answer to this as it depends on various factors. However, we have created this blog to explain alcohol detox in more detail and give you an idea of how long it can take.
Taking the First Step:
Spending time in a recovery center may not be ideal. You may have a job or other responsibilities that keep you from going. You may not want anybody to be aware of your problem. You may even lie to yourself by minimizing your dependence and saying, “That is for people with a real problem. I just like to drink here and there.” It’s common to be tempted to try to detox on your own. The truth is that detoxing from home is very dangerous and can be deadly. Do the right thing, and get professional help.
If you or someone you know may need to detox from physically addictive drugs, deciding to do it with assistance in a recovery center, or doing it from home, maybe the difference between life and death. We urge you to please take this matter seriously. Call Opus Health to speak with a care coordinator. Our experts will guide you in every step of the process.