Alcohol detoxification (also known as “elimination”) typically describes the gradual process by which an alcoholic begins to wean himself off alcohol, usually after the abrupt termination of heavy drinking. The length of detox from alcohol varies greatly, and withdrawal can be severe – for this reason, a health care professional should always be consulted before abruptly quitting alcohol, particularly if one has been a heavy user. However, there are several ways to detox alcohol and to ease the withdrawal symptoms, as well.
The most common alcohol detoxification method is to use drugs, especially tranquilizers, to induce sleep, and to reduce the craving for alcohol. This method is frequently combined with therapy to deal with the underlying psychological issues that led to the addiction in the first place. While this approach may work initially to induce sleep and reduce the cravings, it often leads to unpleasant side effects like insomnia, dizziness and tremors, which can make the process more problematic than it should be. In addition, many tranquilizers have side effects like memory loss, restlessness and panic attacks, so they should never be taken indefinitely.
Another common method for alcohol detoxification is to undergo a short-term fast. This is usually done under medical supervision. Generally, an alcoholic is intravenously given certain drug-like substances in order to induce vomiting, which disables the receptors in the brain that normally respond to alcohol. The absence of alcohol in the system also makes withdrawal easier.
However, in some cases, drug detox does not work, and patients find that their cravings for alcohol do not disappear even after they stop drinking. If this is the case, doctors may recommend medication as a form of alcohol abuse treatment. These medications are usually used to control anxiety and depression, which is why they are also prescribed by doctors to patients who suffer from bipolar disorder. This form of treatment has significantly fewer side effects than the alternative methods of detox and abstinence, so it is preferable for people suffering from alcoholism who are not comfortable using other methods.
There are various classes of drugs used in alcohol detoxification, including benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine sedatives. Benzodiazepines are usually used to reduce anxiety, while non-benzodiazepine sedatives are given for long-term therapy of insomnia, which is highly recommended to patients. Some of the most popular benzodiazepines used for alcoholism treatment are alprazolam (Kolcraft), lorazepam (lorazepam), takeloxazol (lorazepam) and ramelteon (clonazepam). Most of these drugs are usually administered in doses of 4 mg for each kilogram of body weight for patients taking only one single dose, or in low doses to prevent withdrawal symptoms during the procedure.
Doctors will usually start alcohol detoxification with a short-term procedure of giving alcoholics a gradual increase in dosage until they can effectively complete a 24-hour period of inactivity without drinking. Once the person’s competence is established, doctors will increase the amount of medication they prescribe in a series of weeks until a steady rate of withdrawal is reached. After alcohol detoxification, patients should continue with follow-up care plans for as long as necessary to maintain alcohol dependency. This is the first step toward ending alcoholism. The person should consult a health care professional about follow-up care and follow-up medication once sober.