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Alcohol Detox - What Does It Involve?
An alcoholic becomes dependent on alcohol and therefore craves it. As time passes by, the body of the alcoholic becomes more and more addicted to alcohol. Alcohol becomes difficult to resist as the body is so addicted that it starts to develop withdrawal symptoms within three to eight hours after the last drink. Alcohol detox includes taking medication to prevent these withdrawal symptoms once the patient stops drinking.
There are certain signs of alcohol withdrawal that you have to look out for before choosing alcohol detox treatment. Symptoms may include a craving to drink, feeling sick, sweating, trembling, and feeling lifeless or generally terrible. The most difficult to endure is the craving for alcohol, as the other symptoms usually disappear after a week after giving up drinking, but the desire for alcohol lingers on. One out of twenty people who give up alcohol usually suffer from delirium tremens, which is a condition that involves shaking and even convulsions. Sometimes people even become badly dehydrated and suffer other physical problems as well.
The most commonly used medicine in an alcohol detox program is Chlordiazepoxide, a benzodiazepine medicine. It is also used by patients suffering from anxiety, nervousness and tension.
A high dose of the detox medicine is usually given on the first day of the treatment by the primary physician. The dose is then reduced gradually over the week. The patient may crave alcohol but is prohibited from drinking it, no matter what it takes during the course of the treatment. The doctor also uses a breathalyzer to check if the patient has taken alcohol without his knowledge. He has to perform regular check ups. The support of family and friends are also very important and they can also accompany the patient for the treatment.
Different people respond differently to the treatment. While some get through it really well, others may face nervousness or anxiety which can last for a couple of days. Some also have sleeping problems and mild withdrawal symptoms. Even after the treatment is over, the craving for alcohol may continue to trouble some. A strong will and determination is required to endure this craving and cope with it.
Once the treatment is over, there are chances that the patient may have a relapse. So, for a few months the patient has to be put on special medication. Popular medicines used are acamprosate, that helps to ease the cravings, and disulfiram acamprosate. The latter causes very disturbing effects, if alcohol is taken in combination with this medicine. This way, the patient has the fear of suffering from such effects and this acts as a deterrent to stay away from alcohol.
Regular counseling has to be given to the patient while going through the treatment and also the support of family, friends and the physician is also crucial. There are a number of self-help groups that can assist the patient on the road to recovery.
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