Each mind-altering, chemical substance carries its own level of danger in addition to the potential for addiction. Whether to alcohol or drugs, individuals who become addicted can experience a range of effects as a result of chemical dependency. This can include a number of health effects—changes in weight, weakening of the immune system, damage to a number of organs and bodily systems, and so on—as well as many emotional and behavioral effects. As such, an individual who is suffering from active addiction has transitioned into an unhealthy, self-destructive lifestyle from which they likely cannot recover on their own.
Although all addictive substances are dangerous, alcohol could be considered especially dangerous for a number of reasons. For one thing, since it’s legal to purchase and consume alcohol in most places it tends to be incredibly common and accessible. Moreover, alcohol is classified as a sedative, which is a type of substance that’s been well-documented in its ability to cause strong physiological dependence. The effects that individuals experience when they consume alcohol make it especially addictive. When an individual has a drink of alcohol, the brain releases naturally-occurring opioids called endorphins, which are associated with the brain’s reward center and cause a reinforcement of the behavior. Individuals who drink more alcohol also tend to experience more of a spike in endorphins when they drink alcohol, resulting in the habitual or compulsive drinking behavior exhibited by alcoholics. As these individuals drink larger amounts of alcohol over a longer period of time, their bodies become more physically dependent on alcohol, making it increasingly difficult for them to go periods of time without drinking.
Why is Alcohol Detox Dangerous on Your Own?
When an alcoholic begins the recovery process, the first step is to cease one’s consumption of alcohol. At this point, the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from alcohol is known to be particularly dangerous due to the strong dependence an alcoholic’s body develops. In fact, withdrawal from alcohol is such a serious and potentially threatening matter that it’s known as its own condition called alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Occurring primarily in the body’s central nervous system, the onset of symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is usually between 6 and 24 hours after the individual’s last drink and will last roughly a week. The symptoms and their severity depend on a number of factors, including the length of time an individual has spent in active alcoholism, how heavily he or she drank during that time, and whether the individual has a previous history of alcoholism or addiction.
However, the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include insomnia, trembling hands, nausea, nervous actions like wringing one’s hands or pacing, dysautonomia, and in cases of more severe withdrawal, individuals can experience seizures. Typically an individual will begin to show signs of improvement after a period of a couple days, but there’s a possibility that an individual’s withdrawal could continue to worsen to the point of being life-threatening. When an individual is experiencing alcohol withdrawal syndrome and very severe withdrawal symptoms, there is a strong possibility of experiencing such things as single or episodic withdrawal seizures, delirium tremens, fever, high blood pressure, uncontrollable trembling throughout the body, and hallucinations. As symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin to subside, individuals could move into an extended period of protracted withdrawal, which is sometimes called post-acute-withdrawal syndrome; this prolonged state can last as long as a year and includes cravings, feelings of detachment or feeling as if things that used to be pleasurable are no longer enjoyable, disorientation, headache, and nausea.
How an Alcohol Detox Program Works
Before beginning the treatment phase of recovery, many individuals who suffer from alcoholism must complete a preliminary period in which the individual overcomes the chemical dependency and is cleansed of the harmful substances in the body. This cleansing period is called detoxification. Alcohol detox programs take place in a facility where individuals remain on-site for the duration of detox during which time they will experience the inevitable onset of withdrawal symptoms. Being a medically supervised program, individuals detoxing from alcohol will benefit from round-the-clock personalized care, which allows medical professionals to monitor these individuals to ensure that they are not in danger at any point during the cleansing process. Moreover, by detoxing in an actual alcohol detox program individuals can receive medicinal treatments in order to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, making the process less painful. Since fear of withdrawal is one of the main reasons why individuals avoid recovery, an alcohol detox program is designed to eliminate the danger and discomfort of detoxification, preparing individuals to begin the actual treatment phase of recovery.
The Importance of Alcohol Detox Before Treatment
An alcohol detox program is a crucial part of the addiction recovery process for several reasons. Firstly, detox programs afford individuals a period of time prior to beginning treatment in which they can focus on overcoming the physical dependency from which they have suffered. In fact, it would be very difficult to detox while participating in daily therapies and treatments. By the time an individual has completed a detox program, he or she will have progressed beyond the period of withdrawal and will be ready to begin receiving actual treatment to overcome alcoholism. Additionally, an alcohol detox program eliminates the danger of alcohol withdrawal. Since individuals receive constant supervision and care from facility staff and medical professionals, no individual is ever in dangerous or experiencing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms at any point during the body’s cleanse. Additionally, individuals who have completed a detox program prior to treatment tend to experience greater success at sustaining recovery long-term.
Find a New Life Through Recovery Today
Addiction doesn’t happen overnight, but rather is a cumulation of genetic, developmental, and biological factors. Similarly, recovery requires a number of different factors to optimizes chances of success in recovery, such as a detox program, quality inpatient treatments, and a thorough aftercare plan. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would like to discuss treatment options, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352.Our recovery specialists are waiting to help those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction from the treatments that meet each individual’s recovery needs. Begin your new life with just a phone call.