Who Needs Alcohol Detox?

While alcohol detox can give alcoholics a good start toward recovery, not everyone needs it. Read on to find out who needs alcohol detox and what’s involved in the process.

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To help minimize withdrawal symptoms and the chances of relapse, many alcoholics benefit from alcohol detox. In fact, for many, alcohol detox is the start of a successful alcohol treatment program. To find out who needs alcohol detox, keep reading here. If you still have questions, please leave them at the end of the article. We do our best to respond to all questions about alcohol detox personally and promptly.

When do you need alcohol detox?

When a person is physically dependent on alcohol, this means that their bodies need alcohol to function normally. If that person doesn’t have a drink for several hours, the body has trouble maintaining its equilibrium without alcohol. This typically results in alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety, sweats, tremors, headache, nausea, vomiting, and even hallucinations.

Alcohol detox is necessary when you’ve been drinking excessively for a period of a few weeks, or more. Detox is a medically supervised process that monitors symptoms of alcohol withdrawal to address symptoms and prevent more serious complications such as seizures or hallucinations.  But how do you know if you need alcohol detox, or not?

Do I need alcohol detox?

If you’re alcohol dependent and are looking to get sober, there’s a good chance that you need alcohol detox. But you’re more likely to need alcohol detox if you have developed severe alcohol dependence and/or have previously experienced severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

An addiction specialist such as a family doctor, psychiatrist or certified psychologist will be able to determine if you need alcohol detox or not. A thorough physical and mental health examination is usually used to help determine the need for alcohol detox. In addition, an addiction specialist will also typically ask an alcoholic several questions about their alcohol use and mental and physical state.

When do you need alcohol detox?

To determine if and when you need alcohol detox, addiction specialists use a specialized test known as the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale, Revised (CIWA-Ar). This is an assessment that measures the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms including:

  • anxiety
  • disorientation
  • headache
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • tremors
  • visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations

The more severe an alcoholics symptoms are, the more points they will receive. The higher the amount of points a person has, the more likely they will experience alcohol withdrawal and will need alcohol detox.

Need for alcohol detox

The amount of time you spend in alcohol detox varies, depending on the severity of your dependence and withdrawal. You might stay in alcohol detox for a few days to a week or more, for instance. While in detox, you will be monitored by nurses and doctors who will attempt to reduce your withdrawal symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

Inpatient and outpatient detox services are available at rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and standalone detox clinics. You might also want to choose rapid detox, which involves the use of medications to prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms. While this type of detox may be faster and more comfortable for some, it is also more expensive and has not been proven to be better than traditional detox.

Alcohol detox questions

Still have questions about the need for alcohol detox?  Please leave your questions in the comments section below.  We’ll do our best to get to you ASAP.

Reference Sources:  Promises Treatment Centers: What Happens During an Alcohol Detox and How Long Does It Last?
DrugAbuse.net: Alcohol Detox Programs
IRETA.org: Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale, Revised (CIWA-Ar)
Medline Plus: Alcohol withdrawal
Center for HealthCare Evaluation: How to Assess the Need for Detoxification
Department of Human Services: Clinical Guidelines, Ambulatory Detoxification
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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