There are many crucial components in addiction recovery—initiating treatment, seeking therapy, abstaining, and sobriety. Some stages such as the detox process can be the most difficult part of recovery for many addicts. However, while detoxification may be a painful yet important portion of recovery, it can also be incredibly dangerous.
Undergoing detoxification requires a great amount of willpower and places the body and mind under significant stress. This stress can be so significant that in some cases, undergoing the detox process can be extremely dangerous. In fact, detoxing from alcohol can be especially dangerous and cause more health problems overall.
Known as going “cold turkey”, quitting alcohol abruptly provides a myriad of problems that do more harm than good. Instead, ending alcoholism must be handled carefully and through the assistance of professionals to achieve sobriety as safely as possible.
Why is Alcohol Detox So Dangerous?
With the detox process being a common and crucial part of recovery, why is detox from alcoholism so dangerous? The process should be no different than detox from other drugs, you might think, but the dangers of alcohol withdrawal are far more potent. Instead, alcohol addiction rewires the brain in a way that convinces the body that it needs alcohol to survive.
By drinking excess alcohol, the brain releases signals that associate drinking with positive feelings of euphoria and relaxation. But at the same time, the brain adapts the loss of emotional and impulse control. As an addict, you may feel less stress, but you also begin to drop responsibilities for your words and actions.
In that case, the answer to these problems must be taking alcohol away, right? Unfortunately, simply cutting all supply of alcohol causes the brain to panic and send signals that you are in danger. Suddenly your routine changes, stress and anxiety return, and the brain has no viable solution without alcohol. Without the signals the brain receives from alcohol, it begins going haywire and triggers the most severe symptoms of withdrawal.
The Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
During an intense detox process, alcohol withdrawal can have many different side effects—both mild and dangerous. The intensity of withdrawal typically varies on how much alcohol an addict drinks and for how long. Some may have drunk for several years, while others may have developed dependency in a mere month. On the milder side of alcohol withdrawal, symptoms include:
- Mood swings
These symptoms are no laughing matter, despite being more mild signs of withdrawal. Unfortunately, these signals can be only a taste of the worst of alcohol withdrawal. Sweating and anxiety can turn into high blood pressure and heart rate, and tremors turn into seizures. Worst of all, the intensity of alcohol withdrawal can lead up to heart attacks, comas, and ultimately, death.
Unlike other detox processes for different drugs, many problems in alcohol detox do not simply pass with time. Instead, many begin escalating and eventually lead to death because the body is unprepared for the sudden termination of alcohol.
How to Safely Withdraw from Alcohol
The dangers of detox for alcoholism are clear, but not the solutions. If the dangers of detox from alcohol can lead to death, what can be done? Instead of the usual process of detoxification most people know, alcohol detox must be handled differently. Rather than immediately severing all ties to alcohol, facilities instead use a tapering method for alcohol detoxification.
Tapering acts as a method to gradually decrease and ease a person’s intake of alcohol instead of dropping it entirely. This is usually practiced with medications such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines to slowly discourage the brain off its alcoholic dependency. Similar to nicotine gum and patches, doctors prescribe these medications and monitor an addict’s health carefully before dropping alcohol entirely.
Though the gradual process of tapering still may not be easy, it relieves much of the pressure of standard detox. By seeking professional help to end alcoholism, not only will you avoid the troubles of strict detox, you can avoid further health problems from continuing alcohol abuse. Pursuing sobriety may not only ensure a less difficult and painful life, but a longer one to enjoy.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, contact a Discovery Place‘s Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Alternative Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.