What Happens During An Alcohol Detox Program

30 March 2016
 Categories: Health & Medical , Blog


If you or someone you love has made the decision to stop drinking, congratulations. That one decision has the power to impact your life and the lives of those close to you for the rest of your lives. However, dependence on alcohol, especially if you've been drinking for a number of years, causes a number of significant changes in the body, changes that need to be reversed and monitored by a medical team as your body gets used to living without alcohol. That's why it's important to enter an alcohol detox program rather than just quitting "cold turkey" by yourself.

What happens during an alcohol detox program

While everyone's body and everyone's situation is slightly different, most people who have been heavy drinkers experience a number of common symptoms when they drop drinking. The initial cleansing the body of alcohol lasts anywhere from a few days to more than a week. Alcohol detox programs are generally followed by an in-patient or out-patient recovery program. Among the commonly-reported symptoms during detox are:

1. Headaches. One of the most frequent results of alcohol withdrawal is headaches. These can begin as soon as two hours after that last drink.

2. Nausea. Nausea is also common, as the digestive system works to adapt to a more healthy diet, rather than a liquid one.

3. Sweating. Many people also report excessive sweating as they go through alcohol detox.

4. Paranoia and anxiety. Caused partly by the alcohol withdrawal and partly by being in an unfamiliar setting that may seem threatening to a recovering alcoholic, paranoia and anxiety are common complaints. After all, it's scary to make any drastic change in one's life. Quitting drinking involves setting new goals, making new friends and giving up old crutches.

5. Delirium tremens. The most extreme result of alcohol withdrawal are delirium tremens (DTs), which are marked by seizures and hallucinations. This is where the common "pink elephant" image comes from. However, there's nothing fun and whimsical about DTs. These seizures can be life-threatening if not monitored and corrected with medication by a medical team.

While stopping problem drinking is to be applauded, it's important to have your health monitored in an alcohol detox program as your body weans itself off of alcohol dependency. Without such a program, a heavy drinker risks extreme physical distress, up to an including seizures if his or her condition isn't closely watched by medical professionals.