What Is Alcohol Detox?
For many people with alcohol use disorder (AUD), detox is the first step in treatment. Supervised medical detox helps you manage distressing withdrawal symptoms, helps reduce the risk of withdrawal complications such as seizures, and keeps you as safe and comfortable as possible.7
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe. Which symptoms you have, how bad they are, and how long they last will depend on factors such as how much and how often you drink, your age, and your overall health.7
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Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
The type of detox program, alcohol detox timeline, or level of intensity needed for effective alcohol withdrawal management will depend on the severity of the addiction, the magnitude of alcohol dependence, and the risk of experiencing a complicated withdrawal.
A doctor or other treatment professional may evaluate for the above factors prior to making a recommendation for the level of detox care and detox timeline needed to keep a person safe and comfortable.
Outpatient alcohol detox may be a good fit for people at low risk for severe withdrawal. Withdrawal progress is monitored through frequent check-up appointments within outpatient clinical settings (e.g., doctor’s office), allowing for the level of care to be escalated if needed.
Inpatient alcohol detox may be suited to people at risk for moderate to severe withdrawal who need 24-hour medically-supervised detox services.7 Staff at these detox programs will monitor recovery progress and regularly assess for any withdrawal complications to make sure the patient is not in danger.
Benzodiazepines or other sedative medications may be administered during the process. Inpatient detoxification also serves as a way to keep individuals somewhat removed from potentially triggering social and environmental stimuli that might increase the risk of relapse.3
Additional Alcoholism Treatment Options
Following successful completion of detox, an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program may be recommended to allow further work toward recovery and relapse prevention.
Services that may be included as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan for alcohol use disorders include:
- Group therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Support group meetings
- Wellness activities
- Medication treatments
Behavioral therapies can help those struggling with alcohol abuse focus on avoiding old patterns and identify the root causes of addiction.