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What Does Effective Alcohol Detox Look Like?

What Does Effective Alcohol Detox Look Like? The relapse rates in the U.S. are perhaps much higher than many people may be aware of. According to Current Psychiatry Reports, “It has long been known that addictive disorders are chronic and relapsing in nature. Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment.” Also, “For 1-year outcomes across alcohol, nicotine, weight, and illicit drug abuse, studies show that more than 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within one year of treatment.” Nevertheless, many of these relapses might have been avoided with more effective alcohol detox.

What Is Alcohol Detox Exactly?

Alcohol detox is when an individual abstains from alcohol until the ethanol (the primary alcohol consumed) is entirely out of their system. Now, while this may sound simple, it is actually a very complex process that must be taken very seriously.

Many people may be surprised to find out that alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to detox from. The withdrawals from alcohol can cause some very severe – and in some cases, life-threatening – symptoms. As explained in the peer-reviewed article titled Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal: Pathophysiological Insights, “Disease processes or events that accompany acute alcohol withdrawal (AW) can cause significant illness and death. Some patients experience seizures, which may increase in severity with subsequent AW episodes. Another potential AW complication is delirium tremens, characterized by hallucinations, mental confusion, and disorientation.” These symptoms and side effects further highlight the importance of enduring alcohol detox alongside medical professionals in a safe and secure setting.

Also, due to the potential severity of AW, many alcohol detoxes include the use of medications. These medications may include anxiolytics for anxiety, sedatives to calm the intensity of the symptoms, and certain vitamins that may need to be replenished. 

How Does Alcohol Detox Work

Choosing the Right Treatment After Alcohol Detox

Aside from ensuring the presence of medical and addiction professionals, effective alcohol detox will be “customized.” This means that no two alcohol detoxes should look exactly the same, even though many universal needs must be met.

Effective alcohol detox will also ensure that the client has all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they need to establish initial sobriety and sustain long-term recovery. According to the article titled Mechanisms of vitamin deficiencies in alcoholism, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin b6, thiamine, and vitamin a.”

Moreover, effective alcohol detox will also have a treatment and recovery plan set in place before a client completes the detoxification process. This process involves selecting a best-fit treatment program to fit the client’s individual needs and goals for recovery. If a client does not have a plan for treatment following detox, there is a good chance that detox will be a wasted resource and relapse could be around the corner. The good news is that there are psychological support systems in place at detox centers to motivate individuals to continue their recovery journey into the next steps of treatment.

What Are the Next Steps After Alcohol Detox?

What Happens When an Alcoholic Relapses?

Going through detox can be one of the most challenging things that a person may ever have to experience. They can feel totally drained mentally, emotionally, and physically by the time they are ready to move on to a treatment program. Thus, because they are not in the most optimal shape, it can be critical that the next steps are laid out before them and ready to go.

Usually, the next step after detox is an inpatient program. This is mainly because the severity of alcohol addiction that requires a detox often means that being more closely monitored early in recovery is ideal. However, this does not mean that other options, such as a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or intensive outpatient program (IOP), are not acceptable options.

The key to a successful recovery journey is the same as the key to a successful detox: It must be individualized and curated to the client’s needs. No two active addiction stories are the same, so it makes sense that no two recovery journeys are the same either. Another key to a successful recovery journey after alcohol detox is to take the time that is needed for full recovery. Rushing things can lead to not being ready for triggering situations, which can lead to relapse.