As alcohol is a legal substance that most adults in the UK (and elsewhere, for that matter) consume to some extent, it can be difficult to understand how anyone might need a detox or rehabilitation programme to help them quit drinking it.
However, it is easy to allow your alcohol consumption to spiral out of control. While most people drink alcohol in moderation, some do not fully appreciate the addictive nature of this substance, not even realising that their use of it has progressed to abuse.
Those who are aware that they could have a problem might be wondering about what type of treatment will be needed to get things back under control. They may have heard about detox and rehabilitation but still do not fully understand what these are. Some affected individuals may not even believe that they need such treatment – yet. So, what is an alcohol detox programme like? Do you need one? Read on to find out more about the topic.
Do You Need Treatment for an Alcohol Problem?
Perhaps the most difficult part of the recovery journey for an alcohol addiction is admitting that the problem exists. Most people who have allowed their use of alcohol to get out of hand will not even realise that they have a problem.
It is usually the case that a close family member or friend will see the signs of alcohol abuse and addiction before the person with the problem does. If your loved ones have suggested that you might need help for an alcohol problem, it would be best to hear what they have to say – even if you are convinced they are wrong.
Maybe you have never actually tried to quit alcohol and believe that you can stop any time you like? Or perhaps you believe that you cannot possibly be an alcoholic because you do not drink alcohol as soon as you wake up – or even every day for that matter!
What you should know is that it does not matter when you drink or what type of alcohol that you drink. You can still be an alcoholic if you only ever drink beer or if you only drink every other day. What matters is the amount of control you can exert over your drinking once you start or once the urge to drink takes over.
If you find yourself returning to alcohol despite promising yourself that you wouldn’t drink, or if you find it difficult to stop once you start drinking, you could have a problem.
If your drinking has started to take over your everyday life and you are struggling to meet your responsibilities or commitments, it could be the case that you have an addiction. If you continue drinking despite knowing that it is likely to cause harm to yourself or others, then you need to think about getting help.
What is Detox Like?
What is an alcohol detox programme like? This is a question many individuals think about when they know that they have to get help for an alcohol problem. Fear of detox is often that which stops people from actually reaching out and asking for help. There is a common misconception that detox is going to be an agonising experience, so many affected individuals would rather continue with their addictive behaviour than put themselves through a detox.
What you need to know though is that detox should be seen as a process that will get you started on the road to recovery. There is no point in telling you that it is easy and that you will sail through it, but you should know that it is very unlikely to be as bad as you are imagining.
In a good detox programme, you will be safe and secure, and the staff will be able to make you more comfortable throughout. So what is an alcohol detox programme really like? What should you expect?
Alcohol detox is a natural process and cannot be avoided if you want to overcome your alcohol addiction. It will begin when you stop drinking, whether you are in a detox clinic or not. However, in a detox facility, you will almost certainly find the process much easier than you would if you were to detox at home.
When you quit alcohol, your body will try to get back to normal. To do this, it will expel all the toxins that have accumulated while you were drinking. As alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that caused various physiological functions, such as breathing, thinking and heartbeat, to slow down, you are likely to notice early symptoms such as anxiety, rapid pulse, racing heart, flushed skin, and agitation.
You may lose your appetite and suffer nausea and vomiting while you might also become hot, sweaty, and shaky. These symptoms are all normal and are associated with your body and brain trying to restore normality. The earliest symptoms usually begin around six to twelve hours after having had your last drink.
You should be aware that withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detox may be mild to moderate in intensity, but they can also be severe. Alcohol is one of the most complex substances to withdraw from, and there is always the risk of severe or even life-threatening symptoms arising. It is for this reason that detoxing in a supervised facility is highly recommended.
When you are under the care and supervision of medical professionals, your risk of harm will be very low. You will be monitored throughout the process and you may be provided with medication to help prevent the worst symptoms from occurring.
In addition, any of the symptoms that you do experience can be treated with appropriate medication or psychological interventions such as therapy and holistic treatments.
An alcohol detox usually lasts for about seven to ten days, although it can be longer for those with underlying health problems.
What Happens After Detox?
It is common to assume that all you must do to overcome addiction to alcohol is stop drinking, but this is not true. In fact, getting clean and sober is just the first step on the road to full recovery. Alcohol addiction is comprised of both a physical and a psychological element and both must be addressed to achieve long-term sobriety.
What this means is that once detox is complete, your journey is not over. An alcohol detox is designed to help break the cycle of alcohol abuse and to treat the physical addiction to alcohol, but it does not deal with the underlying emotional or psychological issues. For that, you will need rehabilitation.
Rehab programmes utilise various behavioural therapies and holistic treatments to help you identify the cause of your addictive behaviour and to prevent a return to it at a later date. You will learn more about alcoholism and the triggers to your behaviour so that you can avoid them in the future. You will also learn effective strategies and techniques that will help you to deal with stressful life situations without returning to addictive behaviours.
Rehab takes place in a residential clinic or on a day care basis where you would attend regular counselling and therapy sessions but without having to stay in the clinic. Where you are treated is a matter of choice and personal circumstances.
Some people believe that being immersed into a treatment programme in a distraction-free environment is the best way to approach recovery while others believe that getting clean and sober and learning how to live in the real world while doing so is a better way to handle alcohol recovery.
If you would like any more information on the recovery process for alcohol addiction or have been wondering what an alcohol detox programme is like, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Sanctuary Lodge for advice or information.