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Should Alcohol Withdrawal Be Medically Supervised?

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Many people will experience some type of negative effect from alcohol at some point in their lives. For most, it will be something minor like an upset stomach, a social faux pax, or a mild hangover in the morning. However, for people who have more serious issues with alcohol, including alcohol use disorder (AUD), these adverse effects will be more severe and often include alcohol withdrawal.

Better Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

While detoxing off of most substances can certainly be taxing and uncomfortable, there are few substances in which the withdrawals can be fatal. One of those substances, however, is alcohol.

Alcohol withdrawal can be so severe that it has its classification – alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). According to the peer-reviewed journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, “Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a well‐known condition occurring after intentional or unintentional abrupt cessation of heavy/constant drinking, and it occurs in about eight percent of hospitalized AUD inpatients. Severe AWS more than doubles the length of stay and frequently requires treatment at the ICU. A complicated AWS includes epileptic seizures and/or delirium tremens (DT), the occurrence of which may be as high as 15% in AUD patients.” These seizures and DTs are what can be fatal.

There is a common misconception that alcohol withdrawal is similar to a hangover. As the journal above just explained, it is not. This is why alcohol withdrawal needs to be taken very seriously and should include the help of medical professionals.

Better Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox

Many people are unfamiliar with what the detox process entails. According to the peer-reviewed journal Alcohol Health and Research World, “Alcohol detoxification can be defined as a period of medical treatment, usually including counseling, during which a person is helped to overcome physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. The immediate objectives of alcohol detoxification are to help the patient achieve a substance-free state, relieve the immediate symptoms of withdrawal, and treat any comorbid medical or psychiatric conditions. These objectives help prepare the patient for entry into long-term treatment or rehabilitation, the ultimate goal of detoxification.”

Yes, there is a reason why many people must first go through a medically supervised detox before beginning residential or outpatient treatment – alcohol withdrawal is dangerous. The good news is that those dangers can be averted by allowing medical professionals to manage the detox process. A detox is critical in slowly getting the alcohol out of one’s system so the system does not go into shock. The detox process is also important for hydration and nutrient replenishment. Many people don’t realize just how nutrient-depleted people with alcohol withdrawal really are.

According to the peer-reviewed journal Alcohol, Clinical and Experimental Research, “Chronic alcoholic patients are frequently deficient in one or more vitamins. The deficiencies commonly involve folate, vitamin b6, thiamine, and vitamin a… Alcoholism can affect the absorption, storage, metabolism, and activation of many of these vitamins.” This is just one of the reasons why a medically supervised detox can be so critical.

The Importance of a Medically Supervised Detox

Pushing aside the most severe outcomes of untreated alcohol withdrawal, the reality is that these withdrawals can be unnecessarily uncomfortable. A medically supervised detox is going to ensure that an individual is in a safe space and has all of the adequate attention they need to make the process as “painless” as possible.

Also, a medically supervised detox is the best place to be if one wishes to continue their recovery journey. Often, detoxes are either located directly at a treatment center or have a close relationship with a specific facility. This ensures that as soon as an individual is healthy enough for the next steps of recovery, they are in exactly the right place they need to be.

Many people also start part of their recovery plan while still engaging in detox. Now, this may mean beginning a program of individual or group therapy or connecting with recovery communities (like those who utilize the Twelve Steps). This helps jump-start the recovery process, which has the ultimate goal of long-term success.

The Importance of Long-Term Success at Lantana Recovery

Here at Lantana Recovery, we understand the complexities and complications that can come from alcohol withdrawal. That is why detox is always under consideration when it comes to our intake process.

The key to long-term success is being willing to go to any lengths to maintain recovery. Often, alcohol withdrawal can get in the way of that willingness. That is why it is important to reach out for help in navigating alcohol withdrawal so the deeper healing of recovery can begin.

Whether it includes a detox or not, each person’s recovery journey starts with one step. That step can start right here with the helping hands at Lantana Recovery.

Detoxing from alcohol can cause very emotionally uncomfortable and even physically painful withdrawals. Also, the fact of the matter is that alcohol is one of the few substances that can be fatal if not detoxed off of properly. That is why it is critical to seek professional care when it comes to alcohol detox. Not only will it be significantly less painful, but it will also be significantly safer. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right road to recovery. For more information about safe medical detoxes, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.