Why do I need inpatient alcohol detox?
Many people believe that if they want to overcome alcoholism, they can gradually reduce the amount that they drink. However, alcoholism is a dangerous condition that creates a strong physical dependency. Stopping or reducing alcohol consumption can cause the body to go into shock. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be serious – sometimes life-threatening – and for this reason, alcohol detox should be done under medical supervision. Inpatient programs are recommended not only to protect the health and safety of the patient, but due to the easy availability of alcohol in non-medical settings.
Several studies have shown that people who enter supervised detox programs are at far less risk of short-term relapse. They are more likely to enter and complete alcohol rehab programs.
What are the withdrawal symptoms?
Detox from alcohol can produce a wide range of physical and mental symptoms, including the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depression, anxiety and mood swings
- Fatigue, insomnia and nightmares
- Muscle weakness and lack of energy
- Sweating alternating with chills
- Delirium tremens (DTs) and hallucinations
- Strong cravings for alcohol that you may feel powerless to fight
- Weight loss or weight gain
How does detox work?
At Medical Detox Ontario, we do not believe that all individuals should undergo detox in the same way. Everybody’s addiction is different, and for detox to be effective, it has to be tailored to each unique set of circumstances. Your detox program will be designed with consideration for your health, the length of your addiction, the amount of alcohol you consume on a daily basis, whether you are also using other substances, and other factors. All of this will be determined during your intake assessment.
Once admitted, you will be on round-the-clock medical supervision as the alcohol works its way out of your system. This twenty-four hour care is in place so that any uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms can be handled as they arrive. Remember, the goal is to keep you safe and comfortable, and to prepare you for the next step in your recovery.
You can expect withdrawal symptoms to start two or three days after your last alcoholic drink. They will peak after a few days, and with proper medical supervision, the last symptoms will leave after approximately two weeks.
While it may seem obvious, not everyone is really clear about what the detox process involves. In simple terms, detox is a supervised process designed to clear a patient’s body of alcohol and any other harmful substances. However, in practice, the process if far more complicated.
While the first step is to accept the fact that some type of care is needed. Once that hurdle is crossed, the process can start. Inpatient detoxification generally includes three stages.
• Intake and Evaluation. Patients will be evaluated to determine the best way to proceed. Both the person’s physical and mental condition will be carefully evaluated, as accurate information at this stage is necessary to develop appropriate treatment protocols.
• Stabilization. This is the stage where the person no longer has access to alcohol or other substances. The withdrawal process is not pleasant and, in many cases, will require medical intervention at some point. That’s why inpatient care is so important, as that care must be delivered promptly to minimize the potential for significant medical problems.
• Transitioning to Treatment. Again, there are different types of treatment that people with alcohol dependencies may try. However, statistics indicate that inpatient treatment produces better results than other, less-restrictive options.
In some cases, a person will arrive at a treatment center while already in withdrawal. The intake process will vary a little in that type of case, but the patient will be treated based on their symptoms at the time they arrive at the treatment center.
Without proper care, the stages of withdrawal can progress quickly and present significant health threats. While those in the first stage of withdrawal may experience relatively minor symptoms, those in Stage 2 or Stage 3 may suffer much more significant symptoms. Hallucinations and seizures are common, and patients need immediate treatment to avoid significant threats.
Today, a family that isn’t affected by alcohol dependency is rare. For instance, national statistics state that more than seven percent of the country’s adult population abuses alcohol to some degree. Over eight million people are deemed to be alcoholics. However, only a small percent of those needing help actually take the steps necessary to battle their drinking habit.
Not Everyone Is the Same
Different types of alcohol users require specialized care protocols based on their age and habits. Young adults, for example, have distinctly different drinking habits and needs than chronic, severe drinkers who tend to be, on average, roughly 40 years old.
That suggests treatment providers must take the steps to identify the type of drinker and develop a plan that will address each person’s unique needs. Over the years, a variety of treatment protocols have been tried with varying degrees of success. Some patients may respond well to some type of outpatient treatment plan while others need intensive, inpatient care.
Recognize the need for care
In far too many instances, the person drinking to excess fails to realize they’ve gone beyond social drinking and need some type of help to stop. Families, jobs, and even a person’s freedom can be threatened when drinking gets out of control.
Family members and co-workers often recognize the need for treatment before the alcohol abuser. In other cases, run-ins with the law result in court-ordered treatment. The net result is that the person needing treatment is unlikely to accept help without the encouragement of others.
Why Early Intervention is Crucial
When issues are allowed to go on for years, the health issues related to alcohol abuse expand dramatically. While short-term effects of drinking, like slurred speech and motor impairment, may disappear, other serious issues are likely to develop.
Long-term drinkers tend to develop significant health issues that are often life threatening. High blood pressure and chronic heart disease are commonly experienced by heavy drinkers. Cirrhosis and liver cancer are also routine outcomes for long-term drinkers.
In most instances, a person’s tolerance to alcohol increases over time, so long-term drinkers need more alcohol to get the same buzz as novice drinkers. That increased consumption also means more physical damage may be suffered. Of course, the social consequences are also greater as a person’s rate of consumption increases.
If drinking problems are identified early, the odds of avoiding serious health issues are better than if the drinking goes on for years. While it’s generally difficult to get a problem drinker to agree to seek care, it’s always worth trying.
Inpatient Care is Recommended
While people who are alcohol dependent may feel they can handle quitting without professional help, the risks involved in doing so are significant. While there are general guidelines describing withdrawal, every person’s needs are different. That means those guidelines are averages and may well not be valid in specific situations.
When inpatient care is selected, every patient is carefully monitored so medical issues don’t get out of hand during the withdrawal process. In many cases, immediate medical attention will be required for the person to safely get through detox.
Patients and their families need to know there are numerous factors that cause people to react differently during detox. One factor is age, but the person’s physical condition, the length of time they’ve been drinking, and whether the use of other substances is involved all impact care needs.
Only the First Step
Getting through the withdrawal process isn’t ever easy, but it’s important to realize withdrawal is only the beginning of a long process. The most severe physical aspects of withdrawal are generally over in a few days, but there are long-term effects that must be addressed. That’s almost impossible without some type of inpatient care where a person’s condition can be monitored.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last for months, especially if the person’s medical care isn’t properly monitored. Yes, the effects generally become less severe as time passes, but that doesn’t mean treatment isn’t needed to prevent relapsing or developing physical problems.
One of the most common symptoms patients experience is depression. Other typical symptoms related to withdrawal include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, and acute anxiety. Again, since each person’s physiology will vary significantly, inpatient monitoring makes it easier for the treatment team to identify and deal with evolving issues.
Long Term Recovery
Unfortunately, without proper rehab, the rate of relapse after treatment is high, but there is always hope. The longer a person goes without relapsing, the better their odds of remaining sober. That’s another reason inpatient treatment centers are generally more successful than some other types of treatment.
Even after a person is able to leave an inpatient treatment program, developing a long-term strategy to stay sober will always be important. The treatment experts work with clients to devise strategies to help them avoid the temptation to drink in the future.
For many people, that will mean having to change some well-ingrained habits. Many people routinely go to a bar after work to unwind with friends. That’s not something that would be recommended for anyone trying to stay sober. It may even mean having to find a new circle of friends who won’t be as likely to create temptations.
Every person has triggers that control certain habits, and it’s important for anyone trying to avoid relapsing to learn what their triggers are develop plans to deal with those triggers. Once a person understands their behavior triggers it’s usually easier to avoid them or learn coping mechanisms to deal with them if they can’t be totally avoided.
As a rule, family members will also be involved in the person’s long-term treatment plan. Everyone needs a support system to achieve their goals, and that’s certainly true for anyone who’s attempting to stay sober. The treatment professionals counsel their patients in ways to make the best use of their support system to stay sober.
The Time Is Now
If you think you have a drinking problem, you’re probably right. Rather than waiting for some catastrophic event to occur, it’s far better to start investigating the treatment options that are available. Yes, it might be easier to try an outpatient treatment strategy first to see if will work, but that’s not generally going to be the best choice.
Look for a program that’s producing better results. As a rule, that’s going to be an inpatient care program that can be carefully crafted to meet your needs. The medical experts understand the issues people face when choosing an inpatient treatment program and do everything possible to make the process as easy as possible.
Since your health is at stake, taking action to stop drinking now is always the best strategy. It’s easy to put off getting help until tomorrow, but tomorrow may be too late to avoid a serious medical complication. Don’t take that chance. Get the help you need now.
Contact us today and ask about the treatment process. We know that even making a simple phone call is incredible difficult, and our treatment experts will take the time to help you better understand your options. Don’t wait. Call now.