Although there are many different substances to which a person could become addicted, alcohol is the most widely used and abused. Being a legal substance, it’s very accessible and can be purchased by anyone of legal drinking age; however, with many individuals having alcohol on hand, this inevitably means that it’s also accessible to those who are young and underage. In many cases, these adolescents can find alcohol within their own homes, abusing it for recreational purposes and making themselves susceptible to a number of the risks associated with alcohol abuse.
As with any other substance, a person who habitually abuses alcohol will likely become dependent on the substance, which comes with a number of serious consequences. Alcoholism affects virtually every aspect of one’s life, including physical and mental health. Fortunately, while it can’t currently be cured, alcoholism is a disease that can be treated. There are a variety of programs available that are intended to help alcoholics overcome alcohol dependency in a safe, secure environment. However, before one can begin a treatment program for alcoholism, the essential first step of the recovery process is to complete an alcohol detox, which is widely considered the most dangerous part of the process. Therefore, the following will explain the effects an alcohol dependency has on the body and why alcohol detox can be so dangerous.
What Alcoholism Does to the Body
With alcohol being the most widely used and abused mind-altering substance, it follows that the various effects of alcohol consumption would be fairly well known and understood. When a person drinks alcohol, it enters his or her bloodstream and is transported throughout the body, which is why the effects of alcohol are so numerous and diverse. Most individuals are aware of alcohol’s effect on the liver, which is part of the excretory system that’s responsible for processing or eliminating waste from the body, ensuring one’s health rather than allowing various toxins to accumulate. All alcohol must pass through the liver with long-term, habitual alcohol consumption resulting in the deterioration of the liver. However, the effect of alcohol on the pancreas is arguably just as serious as that on the liver. In particular, the pancreas secretes digestive enzymes that are meant to help break down certain substances, including alcohol. Unfortunately, the presence of large quantities of alcohol cause the pancreas to secrete even more of these enzymes, which can be toxic in excess and is harmful to the liver.
Many individuals associate alcohol consumption with the intoxication that results from drinking too much. However, there are a number of processes that are involved in alcohol intoxication, stemming from the various effects that alcohol has on the brain and central nervous system. For instance, alcohol can cause immense damage to one’s nervous system, resulting in numbness or even paralysis in various places throughout the body. Additionally, alcohol abuse causes a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency that can cause uncontrollable eye movements or even paralysis of the eye muscles. There’s also the fact that one can become not only physically dependent on alcohol but also emotionally dependent. Since alcohol triggers a spike in the production of neurochemicals and hormones that affect mood, alcoholics often become angry or depressed when they are deprived of alcohol, coming to rely on alcohol abuse in order to maintain a stable mood.
Why is Alcohol Detoxification Dangerous?
Overcoming alcohol is certainly possible, but it must begin with detox. Alcohol detox is generally agreed to be the most difficult, precarious, and even dangerous part of the alcoholism recovery process. When a person become dependent on alcohol, the dependency is so strong that withdrawal symptoms can potentially become life-threatening. After habitually abusing alcohol for a prolonged period of time, many individuals cannot simply cease their alcohol intake immediately, but rather must gradually reduce their alcohol consumption until they reach the point of not needing it at all. If alcohol consumption is stopped too abruptly, a person is at risk of a number of conditions, including alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), delirium tremens (DT), alcoholic hallucinosis, and a condition known as “wet brain”. Symptoms of these conditions often involve uncontrollable shaking, mild to severe anxiety, hallucinations, seizures, and in some instances even death.
How to Safely Detox from Alcohol
While alcohol detox is extremely dangerous, it’s very possible to detox from alcohol safely. Those who are planning to overcome alcoholism are typically discouraged from detoxing on their own at home since there’s no way for professionals to monitor their withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing in a detox facility or rehab ensures a patient’s safety due to his or her being monitored around the clock. Physicians and nurses keep track of the severity of a patient’s withdrawals so that they can intervene if those withdrawals become severe. If one’s symptoms progress to the point of intense discomfort or threatening his or her well-being, it’s common for a patient to be given so-called “comfort medication” such as mild benzodiazepines or muscle relaxants, which have shown to alleviate much of the intensity of withdrawal and allow individuals to overcome physical alcohol dependency safely.
Find Relief from Addiction with Recovery Hub
There’s not one particular method of overcoming an alcohol or drug addiction that works best for everyone. Instead, one must find the treatments that best address his or her particular recovery needs. If you or someone you know would benefit from a free consultation and assessment, call Recovery Hub 888-220-4352. Our recovery specialists are available anytime, day or night, to help anyone begin his or her journey to lasting health, happiness, and sobriety. Don’t wait; call us now.