Alcohol detoxification is the process of removing alcohol from the body after the body has become accustomed to having it on a regular basis. It is the first step in treating alcoholism and can be done in an outpatient or inpatient medical setting. Detoxification helps the body overcome withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to severe depending on several factors. The process of alcohol detoxification can be divided into three stages.
The first stage is the acute phase, which is characterized by intense withdrawal symptoms that can last for days. During this stage, doctors may prescribe benzodiazepines to prevent or lessen withdrawal symptoms or medical complications. The second stage is the post-acute phase, which occurs over months as the brain begins to regulate itself and return to normal functioning. The third stage is the maintenance phase, which involves keeping the patient's system in balance and avoiding major physiological disorders. It is important to note that detoxification alone does not guarantee lifelong abstinence from alcohol.
To achieve long-term sobriety, it is recommended to follow up with rehabilitation or therapy. Additionally, attempting to detoxify on your own is rarely successful and people are likely to experience unnecessary withdrawal symptoms and be demotivated by many failed attempts. Alcohol addiction affects not only the person suffering from it but also their family members. Substance abuse treatment works by helping family members understand how addiction affects them and how they can help their loved one recover. Family interventions can be a first step to recovery and there are resources available to help children from families affected by alcohol and drug abuse. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism, it is important to seek professional help.
The SAMHSA National Helpline provides free referrals to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states. Trained information specialists are available to answer calls in English and Spanish during certain hours of operation. Text messaging service 435748 (HELP4U) is also available in English.