Alcohol Detox

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What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the first step for clients in most substance abuse treatment programs. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to having toxic substances, like alcohol or drugs, present. When more of those substances are not consumed, the user will suffer negative symptoms. This is known as dependence. Once dependence is developed, when a person tries to stop drinking, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms have the potential to be dangerous and even life-threatening. Because of this risk, detoxing from alcohol addiction on your own is not recommended. Instead, individuals should seek a detoxification program that is medically supervised. These programs allow clients to rid their bodies of the toxins that have built up within them while in a safe and monitored setting. At a medically supervised detox program, clients are able to work through their withdrawal symptoms with medical intervention when necessary. 

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Body

Alcohol abuse affects a number of different parts of the body. One of the most well-known parts of the body that is affected is the liver. Alcohol can cause liver inflammation and can lead to a variety of different conditions, including steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. 

Alcohol also takes a toll on the pancreas, causing it to produce toxic substances within the organ. These substances can lead to pancreatitis, a swelling of the blood vessels that can prevent proper digestion. 

The heart also suffers when an individual becomes addicted to alcohol. Cardiomyopathy, which is defined as the stretching or drooping of the heart muscle, can be caused by alcohol abuse. Irregular heartbeat, also called arrhythmia, is another symptom of alcohol abuse. Prolonged abuse of alcohol can lead to stroke and high blood pressure. 

When abused over a period of time, alcohol can change the brain’s communication pathways, making it harder to think clearly and affecting coordination. 

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Detox?

Throughout the detoxification process, the body will undergo a variety of different changes. The changes that take place during detox will vary from person to person, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Medically supervised detox programs provide a safe, secure, and comfortable setting to go through the entire detoxification process before clients officially enter the treatment portion of their addiction recovery program. After detox, clients will enter into a host of different therapies. 

Acute Withdrawal

During medically supervised detoxification, clients are given a secure place to rid their bodies of toxins. The first stage of a detoxification program is the acute withdrawal stage. During acute withdrawal, clients may experience a variety of different symptoms that are uncomfortable. These symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • High pulse rate 
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches 
  • Irritability 

These symptoms are bound to put clients in a certain level of discomfort, which is what makes medically supervised and assisted detoxification programs so important. 

Early Abstinence

During the early stages of alcohol abstinence, withdrawal symptoms will peak and then begin to lessen. Physical withdrawal symptoms typically abate first, with psychological symptoms like mood changes and irritability persisting. During this stage of detox, cravings for alcohol may be intense, which makes having support in the form of treatment program staff important. Clients will be encouraged to find distractions, practice self-care, and will begin learning new coping skills during this portion of treatment.

Protracted Abstinence

The first six months of being alcohol-free are typically seen as the most fragile time in a person’s sobriety. While most psychological symptoms have eased after the first month or so of treatment, cravings and responses to triggers can still be difficult to avoid or cope with. Clients should really be leaning into their recovery at this time, learning how to avoid situations that may trigger their urge to drink, practicing their new coping skills, and determining the root cause of their craving for alcohol. 

How Long Will It Take to Detox from Alcohol?

The duration of an individual’s detox can be difficult to determine. There are a variety of different factors that contribute to the length of time a person will need to properly detox from alcohol. These factors include the duration of their alcohol consumption, the amount of alcohol being regularly consumed, and the frequency with which alcohol has been consumed. For the majority of people, physical detox can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. Psychological symptoms can last for months while the client is attending treatment. For severe cases, protracted withdrawal can last up to a year. 

How to Recognize If Alcohol Detox May Be Right For You

Alcohol detox may be right for you if you find yourself craving alcohol while going about your day, wondering when you’ll be able to drink next. If alcohol is causing you to avoid family or friends, or if purchasing alcohol is causing you financial issues. If your alcohol tolerance has increased or you find that once you start drinking, you’re unable to stop. If you try to quit drinking alcohol but can’t, a detoxification program may be right for you.

What Are the Different Types of Detox?

Detoxification programs can be inpatient or outpatient, though inpatient programs are typically recommended. There are a few different types of detoxification programs that are popular at treatment centers, and some facilities may use a combination of different detoxification programs. Inpatient programs offer clients round-the-clock care and are the most intensive type of detoxification program. These programs are ideal for those with severe alcohol addiction. 

Holistic detoxification programs are also an option. These programs combine typical treatment and alternative or experiential therapies designed to heal not only the body but the mind and soul as well. 

Medically assisted detoxification programs are available to help relieve clients of the most severe withdrawal symptoms they may encounter. 

Getting Help and Alcohol Detox

Getting help for alcohol addiction is one of the best steps someone with alcohol dependence can take. Detox and treatment programs are specially designed to help clients transition from a place of addiction to newfound sobriety and beyond. These programs are life-saving, not to mention life-improving. Deciding to get help can be difficult, but coming out on the other side of a treatment program can provide clients with a new lease on life and a much brighter future. 

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Variety of Substance Abuse Treatments We Offer

Here at First Steps Recovery, we’re ready to help you find sobriety, no matter the substance.
Alcohol Detox

Experience the benefits of our alcohol detox treatment at First Steps Recovery.

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Amphetamines Detox
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Benzodiazepines Detox

First Steps Recovery can help you find lasting sobriety from benzodiazepines. 

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Cocaine Detox
Defeating cocaine addiction can be hard. We can make it easier at First Steps Recovery.
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Heroin Detox
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Opioids Detox
At First Steps Recovery, we're dedicated to helping you end your opioid addiction.
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Fentanyl Detox

Fentanyl is one of the most common causes of drug overdose in the United States today. Help end your addiction with First Steps Recovery. 

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Meth Detox

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Discover how we approach addiction treatment and detox at First Steps Recovery.

Medical Detox

Our detoxification program features 24-hour monitoring and professional guidance from licensed detox technicians.
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Residential Treatment Care (RTC)

A highly individualized treatment experience designed for lasting sobriety using evidence-based and holistic treatment options.
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Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Our PHP allows you to continue your addiction treatment program without residing at the inpatient facility.
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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our IOP offers individuals the ability to receive the high-quality, personalized level care of our rehab, but the flexibility to continue their daily lives.
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Individuals in the alumni program are invited to stay connected for meetings, events, and resources that are intended specifically for First Steps graduates.
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My experience with First Steps and their entire team has not only helped me to gain sobriety but maintain it now for knots 18 months. The 24 or so days I spent there was the best thing that happened. My kids have their mom, the parents have their daughter but most importantly I have myself back!!

Dayatra L.

Amazing Experience

Amazing people. Super supportive and always there when you need them. My counselor, Amanda, makes it fun but also takes you to uncomfortable places in the best way. I recommend First Steps to anyone struggling with addiction.

Melissa B.

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I attended First Steps outpatient program and was very happy with the help I received. I felt the staff genuinely cared about the health and well being of the people there. They went above and beyond to help me meet my goals and keep them.

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