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Alcohol Detoxification Requires Medical Treatment and Standard Protocols

answered 08:53 AM EST, Wed July 18, 2012
anonymous anonymous
How do I know if I am going to have alcohol detox that is serious enough that I am going to need to go to the hospital. I want to do this on my own but my girlfriend is saying we have to go to a detox clinic. I am telling her that I will go but I do not want to unless it is really necessary. Since she will be at home with me while I am going through this she will be there to drive me to the hospital in planet of time if things get too serious. What is a warning sign I should be on the lookout for to let me know it is time to go to the hospital and that things are at risk of getting dangerous?

Delisted Expert Says...

Many changes have occurred in providing detox for alcoholism. The main goal is to manage the withdrawal symptoms from stopping the use of alcohol which can put the body into a crisis.

Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are identified from mild to moderate psychological symptoms, mild to moderate physical symptoms, and severe and often dangerous symptoms. There are:

Mild to moderate psychological symptoms:

  • Feeling of jumpiness or nervousness
  • Feeling of shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or easily excited
  • Emotional volatility, rapid emotional changes
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with thinking clearly
  • Bad dreams

Mild to moderate physical symptoms:

  • Headache - general, pulsating
  • Sweating, especially the palms of the hands or the face
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulty
  • Paleness
  • Rapid heart rate (palpitations)
  • Eyes, pupils different size (enlarged, dilated pupils)
  • Skin, clammy
  • Abnormal movements
  • Tremor of the hands
  • Involuntary, abnormal movements of the eyelids

Severe symptoms:

  • A state of confusion and hallucinations (visual) -- known as delirium tremens
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Convulsions
  • "Black outs" -- when the person forgets what happened during the drinking episode

Approximately 95% of people experience mild to moderate symptoms while enduring alcohol withdrawal. Most people go to the hospital for observation and to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. To better understand what is provided in hospital-based detox, go to http://alcoholism.about.com/od/withdraw/a/aa040604.htm

My strongest recommendation is to contact a substance abuse professional, in a rehab center or hospital, who will be able to assess what you need in your alcohol detox and treatment. Detox alone will not keep you sober. Treatment in a rehab center will. People who often go into detoxification without treatment will relapse or find a repeated need for more detoxification.

I would like to wish you the best outcome in your treatment. If I can be of further help, please let me know.

Respectfully,

John W. O'Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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Page last updated Jul 18, 2012

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