Many people are aware that they have a substance abuse disorder and would like to put a stop to it but are not quite sure if they should check into a detox center and rehab afterward, or simply do it at home.
For those burdened with the question “can you detox from alcohol at home,” the answer would be: it is possible to detox at home, but it is not advisable. This is because detoxification is just the first phase in a recovery program, not a sole treatment. The complete treatment cycle usually entails and requires various levels of care for recovery to be successful. It’s important to note, however, that there’s always the possibility of relapse.
Also, there’s the matter of medical complications that might arise if people who unknowingly have a condition from their alcohol abuse disorder, aggravate it by attempting to detox by themselves. These complications could vary from simple discomforts and mood swings to serious conditions that require immediate medical attention.
At the very least, most people who suddenly quit drinking alcohol, or go “cold turkey” as most call it, could suffer from Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS), which is a symptom, or a set of symptoms, that manifest following an abrupt stoppage of drinking.
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?
Alcohol is a potent central nervous system (CNS) sedative and depressant, which is why drinking has a profound effect on almost everyone. Depending on the person taking it, alcohol has also proven to be quite habit-forming, particularly for those who have found it to be an ideal stress reliever, sleeping aid, or coping mechanism for certain issues they face in life.
On top of the fact that alcohol is easily found in most social gatherings and events, once it becomes a habit, it is also easy to start binging on it. Binge drinking of alcohol has been medically proven to lead to serious conditions, with some of them becoming life-threatening.
A sudden stoppage or abrupt lessening of alcohol once the person has made a habit of it is also apparently detrimental, as it leads to alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Sometimes the manifesting symptoms are so severe that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is required to not only deal with the symptoms but also to curb the growing urge to drink again.
What is the Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal and the Symptoms?
Although different people could experience different timelines for the symptoms they experience, there is a general timeline that most symptom manifestations follow.
For chronic or heavy drinkers, the symptoms could start manifesting in as little as a few hours after the last drink. These symptoms, relatively mild, include:
- Hand tremors
- Profuse sweating
The more serious symptoms start to come out during this time, as the body starts to readjust to not having any alcohol in the body. Someone in this phase could experience:
- Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
- Mild hypothermia
The most serious symptoms tend to be seen after the second day from the last time the person had a drink. People who were into chronic alcohol abuse now have to deal with the cognitive function damage done by chronic alcohol intake. These include:
- Delirium tremens
- Tachycardia (elevated heart rate)
- Profuse sweating
- Autonomic instability (autonomic system begins to fail)
- Psychomotor agitation
Provided that the person does not succumb to any complication brought on by the sudden stoppage of alcohol intake, the severe symptoms, or complications arising from both, all symptoms typically start to lessen after 72 hours from the last drink until they subside completely.
Certain conditions, however, such as liver damage and failure, heart disease progression, and aggravation of other existing conditions, tend to be more permanent consequences brought on by alcohol abuse disorder.
What is the Difference Between Detox and Rehab?
While many might know the difference between detox and rehab when it comes to alcohol abuse treatment, there are still those who think people would only need one or the other.
Detox and rehab are distinctly different, but both serve the same purpose: that of bringing someone with a substance abuse disorder to full recovery and sobriety.
In every instance of substance or alcohol abuse, there is a need to stop using whatever they have a dependency on first before any treatment could proceed. The detoxification phase is often the most difficult stage for many seeking to kick their habit, as it not only means completely staying away from either drugs or alcohol, but they are also set to go through possibly the most agonizing period in their life thus far.
This agonizing period, however, is an absolute necessity for the process. The pain, discomfort, and stress come from the fact that their body is already so accustomed to alcohol, which numbs most or all of their senses. Now that they don’t have it in their system anymore, the numbing effect begins to fade, and they are left with the steadily increasing symptoms of withdrawal.
In some instances, the symptoms could be so intense that medication-assisted treatment could be needed, to ease off some of the more severe symptoms, and also help with the intense craving that inevitably grips the person going through detox. Whether this is the case or not, detoxification is done in a facility staffed by clinically-trained professionals who can give medical attention if needed. This last fact is why it is not advised to self-detox from alcohol at home.
Rehabilitation is the phase that comes once the detox phase has been completed. This is the stage where the person undergoes therapy to help them deal with the issues that drove them to drink, fix the way of thinking that pushed them into the habit, and develop skills and mindsets that will help them ensure they don’t go back to drinking.
Several treatments could be done during the rehab phase that is determined by a thorough assessment done by a therapist, to make sure that the therapy is one that the patient responds well to. This is to ensure that the patient takes to the therapy, otherwise, it would all be just a waste of time. Some of the therapy forms found in rehab include:
Individual therapy for substance abuse is a one-on-one treatment between the patient and the therapist. Some people respond better to a private setting, as it gives them a sense of security, and they are better able to open up and discuss issues freely with the therapist.
Therapy sessions often bring a patient face-to-face with certain personal truths that they might not be able to confront publicly. This is why the intimate and secure atmosphere of individual therapy would be best for such instances. This type of therapy also frees the patient from distractions, as there may be a need to focus all of their energies and attention on their therapy.
Many people suffer from an alcohol abuse disorder as a result of having to live with some form of trauma that they were able to process or deal with. Alcohol then became a form of escape from having to deal with the burden of trauma. This kind of deep-seated issue not only affects how people think, but also how they behave. In cases like this, therapists often recommend psychotherapy approaches that specifically target these deep-seated issues.
Some people can’t help but resort to drinking mainly because they came to see it as a form of escape or relief from some unresolved issue they have been carrying for so long. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT seeks to help the person understand that these beliefs bring them more harm than good and that these beliefs and thoughts need to be changed.
This is important to the entire treatment because other than the existing deep-seated issues, they may encounter similar things in life that might elicit the same response. The lessons learned during CBT for substance abuse will help them identify if their reaction and insight toward other experiences would lead them down the path of addiction once more.
Motivational interviewing is another approach where the therapist asks the patient some pointed questions that would help them towards some self-realizations by way of their answers. As the answers come from the patient, they would understand if they have the proper motivation to recover from their alcohol dependency.
Finding their motivation also serves to remove any ambivalence or uncertainty they might have relevant to getting well. Many have this notion that they do want to recover from their alcohol dependency, but they might not know why. Knowing and understanding their reasons will serve as their motivators for recovery.
Sana Lake Can Help You Achieve Full Recovery and True Sobriety
You already have the desire to get well, and that is all the spark that we need here at Sana Lake to get you started on the road to recovery. It won’t be easy, we know this because we have helped countless others find their way back to sobriety. It is also because we have helped so many already that we are certain we could help you too.
Let the professionals help you through this unprecedented time because it is what we do best. Contact us today.