Detoxification is a way of cleansing the body so it can perform to the best of its ability. All sorts of detoxes aim to improve health by resting the organs and flushing toxins from the bloodstream. Alcohol detoxing is one of the most well-known and important types of detoxification — this process serves as a vital step in overcoming alcohol addiction and abuse.
Though alcoholics detox as a way to start overcoming addiction, an alcohol detox can benefit anyone who drinks, regardless of the level of alcohol they use. Whether you drink every day or only occasionally, in small amounts or large binges, a detox can help you feel better and establish a healthier lifestyle. It’s valuable, then, to take some time to learn about the process of detoxing.
Why People Detox From Alcohol
People detox from alcohol for a variety of reasons. Health remains the biggest incentive to detox from alcohol, especially for chronic and excessive alcohol users. Use of alcohol leads to many negative health effects. In the short term, you might become dehydrated, have impaired cognitive and motor function or be sick — frequent drinkers sometimes recognize these symptoms as normal parts of getting drunk.
In the long term, acute or chronic alcohol abuse can lead to more severe medical conditions such as heart damage, problems with the liver and pancreas and increased risk of certain cancers, including liver cancer, esophageal cancer and breast cancer. Alcohol can also weaken the immune system, making your body more vulnerable to illness.
Alcohol addiction is a serious personal and public health concern. Alcohol-related death is the fourth-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. It’s clear that a body free of alcohol is a body freer of these health risks. So for alcoholics and alcohol users, a detox can be an important step in preserving and regaining health.
There Are Ways to Detox Safely
During an alcohol detox, the person stops drinking alcohol suddenly. For people who have grown accustomed to drinking often or in large amounts, this sudden lack of alcohol can come as a shock to the body. The addicted body has adjusted to having alcohol as a sort of chemical “constant.” The sudden lack of the substance forces to body — specifically the nervous system — to readjust, often leading to a variety of withdrawal symptoms.
A few of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) include anxiety, shaking, nausea and vomiting, confusion, headache, sweating and insomnia. Though these are unpleasant, they usually pass without serious incident.
However, a serious form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens can be life-threatening. Symptoms of delirium tremens can include severe confusion, hallucinations, fever, chest pain, stomach pain and seizures, along with normal alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Because these symptoms can escalate and become dangerous quickly, it is important to detox under supervision and go to the emergency room immediately if withdrawal symptoms appear severe.
Though withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, it’s certainly possible to detox from alcohol safely. People with an alcohol addiction can work with doctors and rehabilitation professionals in in-patient or out-patient settings in order to ensure safety and avoid relapse. Those who want to detox from moderate alcohol use can generally detox safely at home, though it’s always a good idea to discuss your detox plan with a doctor before getting started.
Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms
Aside from monitoring progress with a doctor, you can detox safely by using natural remedies to treat unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. For insomnia, one of the most common symptoms, for example, you can use soothing teas and essential oils. Chamomile and lavender are well-known for their calming properties. And research has found that drinking passionflower tea improves sleep quality and reduces anxiety.
Supplementing certain vitamins often deficient in alcohol users, such as thiamine, may also be helpful. However, an excess of thiamine or Vitamin B1 can lead to magnesium deficiencies. So, eating whole foods enriched with the vitamin is a safer bet than taking large doses of supplements.
In general, go easy on your liver during an alcohol detox. Since the liver is occupied with flushing alcohol toxins from the body, give the liver time to work by keeping other toxins out as well. This means eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding other drugs during the detox as well. These long-term measures help further your progress toward sober living.
Detoxing from Alcohol: It’s Worth It!
Detoxification can come with many health benefits for anyone. Whether you drink heavily or occasionally, an alcohol detox can help.
By working with a doctor, understanding withdrawal symptoms and establishing healthy habits, it’s possible for anyone to detox from alcohol. Over time, a detox can help you feel better and develop a healthier relationship with your body.