alcohol detox

What to Expect When You Are Going Through Alcohol Detox

Chronic or frequent use of alcohol can lead to dependence that makes it difficult to stop. What may have started as a social activity or a way to ease the stresses of the day can eventually spiral into a full-blown addiction. As the addiction intensifies, physical symptoms of withdrawal will be experienced during the times that the individual is not consuming alcohol. 

Withdrawal symptoms are more than just uncomfortable, they have the potential to cause permanent damage or even death. Sana Lake Recovery Center has trained professionals who are experienced at guiding and monitoring those going through the withdrawal stage. Our detox program ensures a safe and thorough detox to give our clients a strong foundation for their recovery. 

What Causes Alcohol Withdrawal?

The process of detoxification refers to the body filtering out harmful substances and toxins. Alcohol detox is the initial period of time where the body stops consuming alcohol and experiences the symptoms associated with withdrawal. Since the human body becomes physically dependent on alcohol,  detox is crucial for allowing the body to learn how to function without it. 

Alcohol is a depressant and has a slowing and sedating effect on bodily functions. The brains of those who have been drinking intensity over long periods of time have adjusted to the continual exposure to alcohol and its effects. The human brain is smart and always tries to re-balance itself. In the case of alcohol, the brain adjusts its own chemistry by highly stimulating chemicals like serotonin or norepinephrine in high quantities. 

When the individual stops drinking, these chemicals are still being produced. This sends the brain and body into overdrive and causes severe confusion for the body’s organ systems. 

What are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?

The symptoms and intensity of withdrawal will look different for everyone depending on how long and how heavily they have been drinking. Some of the more common symptoms that should be expected include:

  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or intense nightmares.
  • Severe nausea and/or vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Tremors.
  • Profound sweating.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Fever.
  • Irritability.
  • Agitation

These symptoms can be alarming and uncomfortable, but don’t typically result in life-threatening conditions. There are however some more serious side effects that can cause permanent damage or even death, and these should be closely monitored. Some of these include:

Tremors

Tremors usually present themselves within a few hours after the last alcoholic drink and are most intense after 24 to 48 hours. Trembling is often accompanied by a spike in blood pressure and difficulty regulating heartbeat and temperature. 

Hallucination 

This symptom can be quite alarming and usually begins within 12 to 24 hours after your last drink. Hallucinations can last up to three days into detox. Hallucinating can be seeing objects, movement, colors, lights, or even people that are not really there. Other versions of hallucinations that are experienced are feelings on bugs or moving sensations on the skin. alcohol withdrawal hallucination can be an extremely vivid imaginative vision.

Alcohol withdrawal seizures 

Seizures tend to occur 24 hours after the last drink and can range from moderate to severe. If not monitored, seizures can create 

Delirium tremens 

This condition describes a severe and drastic change in one’s breathing, oxygen levels, circulation and temperature control. These changes all affect the central nervous system resulting in confusion, disorientation, irrational beliefs, sweats, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations. This is one of the most serious side effects of alcohol detox and can cause permanent damage or even lead to death. Professional monitoring and care will allow for preventive measures if delirium tremens are suspected. 

How Long Will Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal on average last 5 days. They can prolong into a week or more for some, but detox programs typically cap at  7 days. The severity and duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms will depend on how long the individual drank, how heavily they drank, and their personal medical history. Co-occurring health conditions could also cause withdrawal symptoms to prolong. 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

This potential phase commonly referred to as PAWS refers to the experience of withdrawal even after detox is completed. Typically, once alcohol is out of the system, withdrawals will subside even if emotional cravings persist. In the even of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, individuals experience intense physical cravings and symptoms for extended lengths of time. Although rare, it can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year.

Symptoms of PAWS include:

  • Mood Swings 
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Increased accident proneness
  • Delayed reflexes
  • Intense cravings
  • Severe Fatigue

Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal 

Detox will allow the individual to successfully rid their body of any alcohol so they can start their rehabilitation program on a clean slate. It will also give them access to medical professionals who will ensure their safety and care throughout the entire process. Detox can be more strenuous than one would expect, and a lot of difficult physical and emotional challenges will present themselves. 

Sana lake provides a space with employees who know what they’re doing and take pride and passion in their efforts to help those struggling with alcohol addiction. We offer a variety of services to help our clients get through detox as smoothly as possible. Some of the services we offer include:

Evaluation

During the initial evaluation, licensed professionals will check your current health status, go over personal and family health history, and address any co-occurring mental health conditions. The evaluation allows the staff to have a solid understanding of your needs so they can offer the best possible services for the detoxification phase. 

Medicated Assistance

Since Alcohol detox is so physically and emotionally demanding, oftentimes medication is needed to help subside the side effects such as headaches, fevers, nausea, seizures or tremors. Some medications used include:  

  • Antipsychotics – these will help with the emotional side effects as well as addressing any co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Benzodiazepines – This class of drug is FDA approved to treat alcohol withdrawal
  • Barbiturates -These are used when individuals are resistant to Benzodiazepines
  • Beta-blockers- Beta-blockers help alleviate the nervous system effects of alcohol withdrawal  
  • Anticonvulsants – This class of medication helps aid in reducing seizure and tremor symptoms 

Counseling 

Both individuals and group therapy are offered in detox programs to provide a space to verbally work through the challenges of addiction recovery. Licensed therapists will be able to help patients learn new methods of looking at their struggles, and help build healthy coping mechanisms that will be useful throughout the entire length of rehabilitation. 

Counseling sessions with a psychiatrist or therapist will help address both mental illness and alcohol addiction and aid in discovering the root causes of their development. Unresolved childhood trauma, insecurities, genetics, and effects from past experiences can be a major factor in alcoholism and if left untreated, sobriety will be harder to maintain. 

Talking with a professional will enable you to learn how to accept and let go of whatever experiences are triggering your anxiety and addiction.  

What Happens After Detox?

Detox may be a crucial step in alcohol recovery, but the work doesn’t stop there. Clients will move on to a long term rehabilitation program to ensure they are both physically and mentally. Alcohol Recovery programs can last anywhere from 30-90 or more days. These are more intense and focus on staying sober long term. 

Depending on personal circumstances, there are options for both inpatient and outpatient rehab. Additionally, most clients find that attending regular talk therapy aids them in staying sober and working through triggers. Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to address every aspect of alcohol addiction and learn to work through it so you can carry healthy coping skills throughout the rest of your life. 

Get Help Now 

At Sana Lake Recovery Center in Dittmer, Missouri, our trained professionals are passionate and ready to give you the smoothest possible alcohol detox experience. We understand the physical and emotional challenges you face when you decide to stop drinking, and we believe everyone is capable of a successful recovery. 

We take our pride in our ability to personalize treatments for every one of our client’s individual needs and give them the tools to succeed under our care and after reintegration. While it starts with you, we will be here every step of the way. Contact us to find out more information or enroll in our detox program! 

References: 

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments

https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/alcohol-withdrawal-a-to-z

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/alcohol

 

 

Opioid plant

Understanding Medically-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Detox

Back in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies were working with medical communities and telling them that their patients would not become addicted to prescription painkillers, otherwise known today as opiates or opioids. Therefore, since their extremely addictive tendencies were not as prevalent during this time, the rate at which physicians were prescribing opioids to their patients began to skyrocket, subsequently starting a big trend and continuous cycle of narcotic sales and consumption, leading to the misuse of these prescription and non-prescription drugs. 

Fast forward to the present day, the information spread around back then about opioids would be considered slanderous, as extensive evidence and research have proved that these painkillers are addictive. For adults under the age of 50, opioids account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths, the leading cause of death within the United States. To put this into perspective, the misuse of prescription narcotics affects two million Americans around the world, and on average, 130 people die from opioid-related overdoses every single day. 

Causing major health, social, and economic problems, opioid addiction has been this ongoing widespread epidemic, one that has continued to rapidly increase, and not slow down anytime soon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that due to the misuse of prescription opioids alone, the United States has been in an economic burden, causing a loss of 78.5 billion dollars annually!

Therefore, to combat the severity of this type of addiction, treatment, here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we believe in opioid detox, but through Medically-Assisted Therapy (MAT). This treatment method aims to help save people’s lives, make opioid detoxification safer and more manageable, and most importantly, lower the rate of death due to overdose, and end this destructive cyclical epidemic. 

What are Prescription Opioids? 

Known as narcotics or pain killers, opiates are medications often prescribed by physicians, specifically to help treat individuals who are suffering from severe chronic pain, such as headaches and migraines, back pain, and arthritis. As mentioned before, in recent years, prescription opioids have been more widely accepted than in the past. This often is a result of recovering from a big surgery or becoming injured from sports, falls, auto accidents, or other incidents. The most common types of opioids include: 

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin) 
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) 
  • Heroin (Street drug) 
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Morphine 

Despite the serious risks and side effects associated with these potent drugs, people take them, because they are so desperate to get rid of the severe pain they are in. As you might have guessed, this is dangerous, because opioids have a high success rate in numbing pain. The more the drug is effective in doing its job, the more dependent our body becomes on them. 

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioid receptors are located and found in our nervous system, where they attach themselves within the nerve cells or neurons within our brain. These receptors trigger a chemical reaction, which leads to the body feeling the sensations of pleasure and pain relief. In other words, these opioid receptors interact with certain nerve cells located within the brain and body. 

When taking opioids of any kind, this changes the chemistry of the brain which leads to drug tolerance, which means the dosage that someone is taking regardless if correct or not, ends up increasing every time, so when absorbed into the bloodstream, the body thinks and mimics the same pain-relieving effect every time, because the body is so used to it. When this dependence and inability to cease use interferes with the quality of a person’s life, it is considered to have developed into Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). 

Opioid pain relievers can be safe when prescribed and monitored carefully by a licensed physician. However, since these drugs specifically produce symptoms of euphoria in addition to relieving pain, it is often assumed that it is okay to take more than the actual recommended dosage. But, even when opioids were taken as directed, and then no longer required medically, they still have a high potential for causing addiction in some people. 

What Causes Tolerance, Dependance, and Addiction to Opioids? 

What we do know from research, is that this condition is a result of a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors, some of which are unknown at this time. 

Identifying the reasons or causes as to why people become addicted to opioids is complicated. This epidemic has been ongoing, and as the death toll continues to rise, the cause of why and how it can be stopped is constantly being figured out. 

As mentioned above, much of what is believed to play a role in opioid addiction is the body’s internal system for regulating pain, reward, and addictive behavior. This is called the endogenous opioid system. It consists of receptors. When a person craves an opioid, the genetic makeup in these receptors, provide the brain with instructions on how the body is influenced. This means how our body should react and respond when a person takes their opioid of choice.

It is important to note, that there is a difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction when it comes to opioids. Tolerance means when a person is using opioids, they start to experience a reduced response to medication. Therefore the person will require more amounts of opioids to experience the same pain-relieving effect.

The meaning of dependence is similar to tolerance. It means that an individual’s body adjusts to its normal functioning when opioids are taken. Unpleasant symptoms similar to withdrawal occur when no opioids are in one’s system. Lastly, addiction is the most powerful of them all. Also known as opioid use disorder (OUD), addiction occurs when a person develops an overpowering urge or craving for these drugs. An addicted mind is also attributed to a loss of control, making it more difficult to refuse the drug. It can also be hard to function without it, even though using can be extremely harmful. 

It is important to note, that dependence is not the same as addiction, but can, and most likely will lead to it if not careful. Dependence, as mentioned, is when the body becomes used to the medication over time. Addiction means abusing a substance or drug. In this instance, when someone in pain takes a pain pill, or even when they are not in pain, one’s body has unfortunately become so dependent on the opiate, they have a compulsive need to take these narcotics to properly function. In other words, opioids make your brain and body believe the drug is necessary for survival. 

Addiction is the final step after someone has first become dependent and tolerant. This makes it very challenging and difficult to stop taking opioids, and withdrawal symptoms, both physical and psychological begin, such as diarrhea, sweats, muscle cramping, anxiety, etc. 

Not only can addiction cause life-threatening health problems, but a person who is addicted is at major risk of overdosing. Taking opioids causes the following symptoms: 

  • Shallow breathing
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sleepiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

Complications due to opioid use and abuse can lead to unconsciousness and overdose, but unfortunately, as the statistics show, the stories of tragedy happen all too often where it is too late to help some people, and they die due to overdosing, complications from use, often both, especially if mixed with other medications. 

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Some of these methods include: 

  • Medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naloxone)
  • Behavioral therapies: (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-CBT)
  • Inpatient and outpatient rehab
  • Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

Before it is too late, it is important to identify the many warning signs that someone needs treatment. These include withdrawals, dependency, inability to function without the drug, denial, etc. Heavy or prolonged use of opioids causes the body to become physically dependent on the drugs, which in turn causes symptoms of withdrawal that are so stressful that it becomes challenging to stop taking them. 

Like other substance use disorders, Opioid Use Disorder is treatable. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we tailor treatment to each of our patient’s needs both safely and effectively, as we understand that everyone’s situation is unique. Those in treatment, have to learn to control their condition or disease, through a variety of treatment methods and programs to make behavioral changes to be on a journey to a successful recovery. 

The detox process from any drug is awful and difficult, to say the least. Detoxification is the process of removing all of the substance or drug of choice from the entire body. Except during this process, the body is so dependent on these opioids, that the goal is to wean someone off of them completely. However, the reaction to this process is extremely intense. 

When a drug hasn’t been taken for some time, the body craves it, and therefore, starts going through withdrawals as a result. These symptoms include: shaking, nausea/vomiting, sweats/chills, fatigue, etc. When opioids are completely clear from one’s body and bloodstream, treatment can begin. 

Medically-Assisted Therapy is the Most Effective Treatment for Opioid Detox

Treatment for opioid abuse and addiction can help you; change your attitudes and behaviors related to drug use, learn important life skills and coping skills, and stick with a regimen and other forms of treatment, such as medicines. 

Medically supervised opioid withdrawal and detoxification involve the administration of medication to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that occur when an opioid-dependent patient stops using opioids. The main purpose of the supervised withdrawal is to safely and successfully transition a patient to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder.

What is Medically-Assisted Treatment? (MAT)

During MAT, specialists in opioid treatment use anti-craving medications, most commonly, naltrexone (Vivitrol), buprenorphine (Suboxone), or methadone. Comprehensive therapy and support are crucial in this process. It’s important to help address the situation as a whole, meaning all factors related to opioid dependence, including withdrawal, cravings, and relapse prevention. 

People dealing with this physical dependence on opioids, unfortunately, are known to experience multiple relapses throughout treatment. During this treatment, addiction specialists are aiming to help a patient abstain from opioid use so that their tolerance over time decreases. 

Benefits of Medically-Assisted Treatment

When compared to recovery treatment without medication research has proven MAT does the following: 

  • Increases abstinence from opioids 
  • Reduces the risk of relapse 
  • Increases treatment retention 
  • Improves social functioning

If a person practices abstinence but ends up relapsing after some time has passed, they are also at high risk of overdosing, because their body is not used to absorbing the same dosage or amount of drug. Therefore, by using medically-assisted treatment methods as a means of opioid detox, during one’s recovery, this will reduce one’s risk of overdose, relapse, and most importantly, death. 

There is always a high risk of relapse during treatment for those suffering from addiction. However, during medication-assisted treatment, this is more unlikely, than those receiving no help from specific detox medications. 

To clear up misconceptions, people who are seeking treatment for addiction through a 12-step program may have been told that medically-assisted treatment is just substituting one addictive drug for another. This is extremely false, as the medications used during MAT for opioid addiction are just the opposite. Individuals are given medication to detox, and most importantly, to help stop the cravings, in hopes to end the control factor and dependency on these drugs, and enter into recovery. This evidence-based treatment approach has often been successful at helping people overcome opioid addiction and maintain long-term recovery. 

Sana Lake Will Help You Recover

At Sana Lake Recovery Center located in Dittmer, MO, we believe in medically-assisted treatment is best suited for our patients needing treatment for opioid addiction. Our mission is to help our patients end this dependence and control these pain killers has over their lives, leading them into a healthy lifestyle, consisting of recovery and long-term sobriety.  

Our team is committed to making sure you succeed as you pursue freedom from opioids. Know you are not alone, and help is available! If you are ready to take back control over your life and become sober, contact us today at (636) 707-2097. Click here to learn more about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. 

References