If you’ve used alcohol for a prolonged period, you might notice that it isn’t always easy to stop. Your brain and body have become used to alcohol, and cutting it out of your life can be physically and emotionally difficult. Withdrawal symptoms are common.
At Sun Behavioral Health Columbus, we see your struggle, and we want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 500,000 people in Ohio are struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD).
If you’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol – congratulations! It might feel overwhelming to think about handling withdrawal symptoms alone, but you don’t have to. An alcohol detox program might be exactly what you need to kickstart your recovery journey.
Alcohol withdrawals are a collection of symptoms you might experience if you quit drinking. If you’ve been a heavy drinker, the possibility of experiencing withdrawal symptoms is high. You might experience mild symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, or tremors. Depending on how long you’ve been drinking, you could experience severe withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens (DTs), hallucinations, or seizures.
Withdrawals happen because alcohol floods the brain with a “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. These sustained and intense floods of dopamine become a “new normal” for the mind, and when alcohol use is ended or significantly decreased, the brain feels like it’s missing something. Your body will show signs of dopamine deficiency, which is what you’re experiencing when you have withdrawal symptoms.
Most people start to feel physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms within 6-24 hours of their last drink. Let’s take a look at a typical withdrawal timeline.
After 96 hours of abstaining from alcohol, you should start to feel relief. The majority of severe symptoms drop off, and you might begin to notice a change in your energy levels, your skin, and your sleep.
Fatigue can continue for months after alcohol cessation. Alcohol used to be your body’s main source of energy, so it needs to adjust to finding energy the normal way (through glucose). To avoid this, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, exercising, and fueling your body with healthy food. Try to avoid caffeine if you can, as it can dehydrate you and cause energy crashes.
Some people choose to detox from alcohol at home, but it’s risky. Depending on how long and how much you’ve been drinking, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. If you detox at home, you’re risking things like
Seizures that can lead to head injuries or accidents
A dangerous fluctuation in your blood pressure
Rising and falling blood sugar levels
Hallucinations that can lead to injuries or accidents
DTs, which can lead to tachycardia and disorientation And more
By participating in a detox program, you’re putting your safety (and perhaps the safety of others) first. A detox program can also help in decreasing or diminishing your withdrawal symptoms, which will help you sleep better and heal faster.
Deciding to enroll in an alcohol detox program is momentous. It’s a sign that you’re taking control of your life; you want a better future for yourself and your family. At Sun Behavioral Health Columbus, we recognize that. You’ll be treated with the dignity and respect that you deserve while you’re here.
Our staff is aware of how overwhelming alcohol withdrawals are. We do everything we can to make you as comfortable as possible.
Our detox program usually lasts anywhere from 3-5 days. While you’re here, you’ll follow the same schedule as our patients who are attending inpatient rehabilitation.
Life skills training is an incredibly useful tool for recovery. If you’ve been heavily drinking for a while, finding your way out is overwhelming. Often, we need to relearn things we knew before we drank – like how to create routines, strong goals, or schedules. In life skills training, we’ll work with you on the following things:
An alcohol detox program is a great first step, but your journey doesn’t end there. Detox gives you a leg up into sobriety, but you’ll still experience the urge to use alcohol. For a long time, alcohol has been a large part of your life. You may have used alcohol as a crutch or a coping mechanism before, but you can’t do that anymore if you want to stay alcohol-free. It will take time, practice, and possibly more medical assistance to get you there.
When you’ve finished with your detox, the first thing we’ll do is set you up with our discharge planner. Your discharge planner will go over the following options for your continued recovery:
It’s a little different for everyone. Usually, detox takes around 3-5 days. If you’re still experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms or you need extra care, you stay a little longer. How long you’re in detox is contingent on how long you’ve been drinking and how much you’ve been drinking.
Detox itself does not cause side effects. Alcohol withdrawals, however, can present themselves as a variety of symptoms. Some of these include insomnia, headaches, nausea, anxiety, seizures, or hallucinations. The medication you receive in detox can help combat these symptoms so you can focus on your recovery.