When someone decides to seek treatment for alcohol addiction, they might hear intimidating rumors about detox. The threat of severe withdrawal symptoms could even make them hesitate to get the help they need. No one should be afraid to get help, but one thing is certain: People who don’t know about the addiction recovery process have questions. Is detoxing from alcohol deadly? What is “delirium tremens”? What is the safest way to detox?
Rest assured that the answers to all these questions and more lie below. With the aid of The Blackberry Center, alcohol detox does not have to be a daunting or mysterious process. We will be by your side every step of the way; together, we will get you on the path to recovery.
Why Is Detox Necessary?
When someone has been drinking heavily for a long time, their body becomes dependent on alcohol. In other words, they cannot function properly without it. They grow so used to the presence of alcohol that taking it away would shift everything out of balance.
This period of imbalance in the body is responsible for the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with detox. Similarly, the potential severity of such withdrawal symptoms is what makes some people ask, “Is detoxing from alcohol deadly?”
As a concept, detox is not something to fear. It is a completely natural process that occurs when someone stops using addictive substances. The body, particularly the liver, works hard to filter out the traces of alcohol that remain after someone’s last drink. It generally takes between five and seven days for the worst side effects to pass.
Detox is a crucial first step to overcome alcohol use disorder. As long as alcohol remains in someone’s system, their body cannot re-learn how to function without it. Therefore, if someone wishes to recover from substance abuse, detox is often an essential starting point.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
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The detoxification process stands out due to its close relationship with withdrawal symptoms, but with the right preparations, all symptoms can be managed in full. One of the best ways to prepare for detox is simply to inform yourself of what to expect. So, what are the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal? Can any of them lead to death?
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
The patterned onset of withdrawal symptoms someone may experience during detox is commonly known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). Roughly half of individuals who stop consuming alcohol will develop AWS in the days following their last drink.
Typically, withdrawal symptoms start within 6–12 hours after someone stops drinking alcohol. These early withdrawal symptoms tend to be mild in nature. In the first 12 hours, someone may develop:
The next symptoms of AWS usually emerge within the first 48–72 hours of detox. They are more intense and often develop as a result of someone receiving inadequate prior treatment. These symptoms include:
Because of the progressive nature of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, it is crucial to seek medical supervision before attempting detox. While only a small percentage of individuals experience severe symptoms, no one should risk being part of that group if they’re alone.
If someone has a particularly long or excessive history of drinking, they may be at a higher risk of delirium tremens (DTs). Delirium tremens is considered the most intense manifestation of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When someone asks, “Is detoxing from alcohol deadly?” their concerns are likely rooted in side effects like DTs.
As its name implies, delirium tremens is characterized by the presence of delirium, or the clouding of consciousness. Individuals with delirium may experience a distorted sense of reality, difficulty focusing or thinking clearly, and strong feelings of general confusion.
To be diagnosed with DTs, a patient must also experience severe withdrawal symptoms at the same time. As discussed above, these may include seizures, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. When all these factors combine and go untreated, someone may encounter even more intense side effects, which are what distinguish delirium tremens.
For instance, some of the more severe symptoms associated with DTs include:
- Respiratory failure
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Circulatory shock
On average, delirium tremens occurs in fewer than five percent of people with alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, of that five percent, the mortality rate is even lower. With proper care and hospitalization, management of DTs is just as possible as management of other withdrawal symptoms.
Is Detoxing From Alcohol Deadly?
The time for the final verdict has arrived: Is detoxing from alcohol deadly? It’s important to be aware that certain symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous. In particular, the intense seizures and heart problems associated with delirium tremens are enough to make anyone wary of the process.
However, keep in mind that these complications affect only a small percentage of people. Furthermore, going to a specialized rehab center for detox can eliminate many of these dangers. By taking advantage of addiction treatment programs that include detox, someone can flush alcohol from their system under medical supervision.
Supervision is an extremely important factor in determining the safety of detox. For example, in addition to tracking patient vitals at all times, medical professionals are also trained to identify early signs of conditions like delirium tremens. When caught early, even DTs are manageable with the resources available at specialized treatment facilities.
So, is detoxing from alcohol deadly? If someone quits cold turkey while they’re alone, they may not possess the tools or knowledge to handle potential complications. As long as they reach out for help and complete detox under medical supervision, though, any risk can be met with practiced, informed care.
What Happens After Detox?
The Blackberry Center offers a comprehensive drug and alcohol detox program for those looking to detox from alcohol safely. Our dedicated staff of licensed physicians and addiction experts maintain a relaxed, secure environment and monitor patient vitals 24/7. Using tools such as voluntary medication-assisted treatment, we can mitigate unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and ease the discomforts of detox.
After detox, The Blackberry Center can continue to help you through recovery. Our inpatient rehab provides the highest quality, evidence-based treatment options through flexible plans tailored to your needs.
If you’re ready to stop drinking alcohol or have other questions like, “Is detoxing from alcohol deadly?” we at The Blackberry Center can help. Call our admissions experts at 888-512-9802 or fill out one of our confidential contact forms today. We’re happy to provide any help and information we can. With the proper resources and support, anyone can achieve long-term sobriety.