Tag Archives: Alcohol Detox

What Are the Best Practices for Treating Alcohol Addiction?

Addiction takes over your life. When you wake up one day and realize this has happened to you, it’s natural to think that you had just gotten a little lax and all you have to do to get back in control is exercise some good, old-fashioned willpower.

If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you suggest that you don’t need to see a doctor, and that you just need to exercise some serious willpower to make that tumor go away? Of course not.

What many people discover is that willpower alone isn’t enough to overcome their addiction. As they try to get sober and fail, they may think that the problem is with them, that they’re just not strong enough.

Thankfully, this isn’t true. The fact is regular use of addictive substances like alcohol makes changes to your body and brain chemistry that require medical and psychological intervention to get your body back to functioning correctly without alcohol.

Luckily, alcohol addiction is much more treatable than diseases such as cancer. With the right comprehensive care and a team of experts at your side to help you get well, you can kick the habit for good and avoid the cycle of going in and out of rehab, seesaw between sobriety and relapse, all while wondering what is wrong with you.

Let’s take a look at the best practices available in the addiction recovery field, some of which we utilize here at Reflections Recovery Center, an Arizona-based specialist in addiction treatment.

The Three Stages of Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment can be grouped into three major stages:

  1. Intervention and Commitment to Treatment – You can’t fix a problem until you know you have one and are serious about solving it.
  2. Primary Treatment – This usually takes the form of inpatient residential treatment, where a patient stays at an on-site facility for at least a month in an immersive healing environment. For those who need to continue living at home and working, an outpatient program may provide effective treatment multiple times per week for several hours at a time.
  3. Aftercare Support – Long-term support is critical to maintaining the healing that was done in primary treatment, and it’s also the key to preventing relapse.

Modern and Traditional Best Practices for Treating Addiction

To overcome alcoholism for good, you need treatment methods that have stood the test of time, as well as modern approaches that have been proven effective.

Personal Commitment to Treatment

Although willpower alone isn’t enough to stop drinking, it is enough to seek out help. In fact, this commitment is critical: No one can force a person to change if they haven’t decided that they want the change.

Professional Evaluation and Individualized Treatment Plan

Each person turns to alcohol for his or her own reasons. Creating a treatment plan that is customized to each person’s needs provides the best opportunity for long-term recovery. At Reflections Recovery Center, we begin with a mental health evaluation, medical history review and physical health examination by our doctor. Then, we work with the client to create a treatment plan tailored to their needs.

Medically Supervised Detoxification

Detox involves ridding the body of a harmful substance, and is the first step in getting the body back to normal functioning. This is done under medical supervision since, in some cases, the detox process can be dangerous if not done correctly. Our medical staff is on hand 24/7 to watch over clients’ health and help ease discomfort from withdrawal symptoms.

Mind-Body-Spirt Wellness Approach

Since mental, emotional and physical well-being all influence one another, a comprehensive treatment program seeks to heal the whole person, not just cure physical ailments. Relapse back into addiction is less likely to occur if the source of alcohol abuse is addressed and the client is taught new skills to build a stable life.

Emotional Healing

Individual and group therapy sessions led by professional counselors help clients address the emotional and psychological factors that led them to alcohol abuse, as well as the events that resulted from the addiction.The Three Stages of Addiction Treatment

Physical Healing

An emphasis on balanced nutrition and healthy activities such as walking, hiking, sports, yoga, etc. helps clients build strength in the short term and begin to develop lifelong healthy habits. At Reflections, we place a strong emphasis on adventurous outings and gatherings that combine physical activity and emotional healing by coming together as a group to have fun.

Peer Support

A key component of a recovery program involves interaction between those going through recovery together. Recovering from addiction is like going to war together, where the enemy is addiction. Support and encouragement from peers happens in more formal settings, such as group therapy sessions, and at informal gatherings like basketball games and BBQs.

Groundedness and/or Spirituality

Addiction often stems from, and leads to, feelings of helplessness, insecurity and loss of control. Getting in touch with something that feels solid, reliable and imparts a sense of purpose and autonomy is an essential part of the foundation for a healthy life free from addiction.

Some people find this base through religious or spiritual practices, yet even those who don’t believe in a higher power can learn to tap into an inner core of strength that they can rely on in any circumstance.

Education and Training

People often come into rehab with gaps in their knowledge about how to address the issues that led to addiction. Small-group educational sessions, which offer time for questions and discussion, give clients the knowledge and skills they need to build the kind of life they want for themselves once they leave rehab.

Family Support and Healing

Addiction is especially hard on relationships with loved ones. The education you receive during treatment can help you learn how to mend relationships.

At Reflections, we also have a Family Communication Specialist who serves as a liaison between the client, their family and their therapists, making sure that important messages are communicated between the family and client during treatment, without hindering the client’s ability to focus on treatment.

Long-Term Support

Because relapse back into addiction is common, a robust aftercare support program is an important part of any long-term recovery program. Reflections graduates have the opportunity to apply for our alumni program, which includes three months in a sober living home while we assist them with finding permanent housing and employment.

Those who already have a home and job to go back to can continue to benefit from our social gatherings, support group meetings and aftercare services as they desire.

Taking On Addiction Together

No one should have to struggle against alcohol addiction alone. This is a very curable condition, with the right assistance.

If you’ve been beating yourself up for not being able to overcome addiction on your own, it’s time to change your approach and channel your willpower into seeking treatment. Commitment to treatment can only come from you. The rest you can get help with.

If you’re the family member of a loved one who is struggling with addiction, and if you’re perhaps feeling frustrated and worried, there’s support for you, too.

Speak with a Reflections Representative

What to Expect From Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox

Alcohol addiction is one of the most worrisome forms of chemical dependency, and those seeking relief from the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal often require detoxification. The alcohol detox process is safe, but several factors influence the process. In some cases, alcohol detox can be life threatening if caregivers do not assess the patient’s condition accurately or if the detox takes place in an unsuitable setting.

The Detox Process Differs Case by Case

People considering alcohol detox for themselves or loved ones with alcohol abuse issues need to understand how the process works and know the importance of medical supervision. Alcohol has intense withdrawal symptoms, including shakes and tremors, nausea and vomiting, sweating, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty eating and sleeping. In some cases, patients can become delirious and experience hallucinations and sensory confusion. The intensity of these symptoms varies greatly from person to person, and the factors that influence symptoms include:

Personal Health

The person’s physical characteristics, such as height, weight, age, genetic factors, and other medical conditions may be a factor for detox.

Specific Addiction

Withdrawal symptoms depend on the nature of the person’s addiction. Withdrawal is going to be much harder for heavier users, and the symptoms of withdrawal can be life threating in some situations.

Patient Support

A person’s environment can make detoxification more challenging or easier, depending on his or her system of support.

Mild to moderate alcohol dependency can sometimes be treated in an outpatient setting, but more-severe cases are going to necessitate medical supervision. Additionally, certain prescription medications can offer relief for some patients, but whether the patient should use these drugs will vary by case. It’s always best to consult a medical professional and err on the side of caution when dealing with potentially severe withdrawal symptoms.

Stages of Detox

The detoxification process is going to be different for every patient, but the timeline is mostly consistent for everyone. Patients and their loved ones have a difficult road ahead, and it’s important to have some idea of what to expect and how the different phases of detox treatment should play out.

Preparation for Detox

The patient and his or her support system should take some crucial steps before the detoxification process starts. Obtaining medical supervision is highly recommended, even if the patient’s case doesn’t immediately seem severe enough to warrant it. The symptoms and severity of withdrawal vary, and no two patients are the same. It can be impossible to predict how a patient will react to detoxification, so take every possible precaution to ensure the patient’s safety and an easier recovery.

Detox is just the first step in a long and challenging process to overcoming alcohol addiction. Again, it’s best for patients to prepare for the challenge ahead by making healthy choices before detox and before withdrawal symptoms manifest. For example, the patient should avoid sedatives or opiates that may delay the onset of detox. Additionally, proper nutrition and vitamin supplements are invaluable throughout the recovery process, although administering these things can be quite difficult. This is another reason medical supervision is essential.

The First Days of Alcohol Withdrawal

The initial withdrawal symptoms are going to set in shortly after the patient’s body has processed his or her last dose of alcohol. The first 72 hours are going to be the most painful and arduous for most patients, and the most serious withdrawal symptoms are most likely to appear in this time.

For severe cases, medical supervision is imperative at this stage, because the symptoms can include fluctuation in blood pressure, breathing, pulse, and body temperature. Additionally, it is not uncommon for patients to experience convulsions, seizures, tremors, profuse sweating, dehydration, and bouts of unconsciousness. For these reasons, medical supervision is highly advised for patients who are severely alcohol dependent.

Severe Response to Alcohol Detox

Assessing the patient’s medical state is crucial before beginning detox. Unknown health factors can cause some symptoms to arise more violently or acutely than others can, and patients should take the time to visit with a specialist who can accurately determine the best course of treatment for dealing with the symptoms of withdrawal. Some health concerns, including heart disease, pancreatic disease, infections, and problems in the nervous system, will impact the patient’s recovery.

For patients with extreme dependency, the symptoms of withdrawal can be fatal. The initial onset of symptoms after the last drink has been processed can be extreme, and a medical professional needs to stabilize the patient to prevent life-threatening scenarios.

The First Week of Detoxification

The first onset of withdrawal symptoms can be painful and potentially violent. For those severely dependent, medical supervision may still be necessary after the first few days have passed. One of the most common withdrawal symptoms seen in highly dependent patients is delirium tremens (the DTs). Delirium tremens is the most severe and medically dangerous form of alcohol detox syndrome, and medical supervision is necessary for DT cases. Most cases of the DTs manifest two to five days after ceasing or drastically reducing alcohol consumption. The symptoms include:

  • Extreme Agitation and Restlessness
  • Gross Tremors
  • Autonomic Instability
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation and Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Nervousness
  • Mood Swings
  • Nightmares

The most acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal appear in the first week and can last for several weeks. Other withdrawal symptoms can last for months or longer, but the most life-threatening ones come after the initial shock to the body’s systems once alcohol consumption has stopped. Doctors can assess a patient’s level of withdrawal and the severity of his or her symptoms and adapt the treatment plan accordingly. Depending on the situation, some medications can help a patient cope with intense or potentially life-threatening symptoms.

Steps to Take Before Detox

Professionals recommend gradually reducing alcohol intake in preparation for total cessation. When patients take the time to reduce their alcohol consumption, the shock of withdrawal is usually less severe and easier to manage. Again, dependence and the intensity of withdrawal symptoms hinge on various factors – from length and severity of dependence to overall patient health, so it’s imperative to visit with a medical professional and develop a comprehensive detox treatment program tailored to the patient’s individual needs and medical concerns.

One of the most important things for patients to keep in mind is that trust plays a significant role in recovery. Patients need to feel safe with their doctors and understand that detox treatment, although painful and unpleasant in even mild cases, its necessary to approach safely. Patients’ anxiety can have a far more detrimental effect on the detox and severity of withdrawal symptoms than most people realize, so it’s vital to be well informed about the medically-assisted detox process. Done correctly, medically assisted detox can allow a patient to start on the road to full recovery with well-managed withdrawal symptoms and less physical strain.

Drug and Alcohol Detox Can Be Dangerous If Done Outside of a Medically Supervised Detox Facility

Medically Supervised Detox