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Alcohol Detox

According to the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services, almost 6% of all Delawareans partake in regular, heavy alcohol use. With chronic alcohol use comes the potential for addiction, and sometimes “quitting” doesn’t feel like an option. For some, withdrawal symptoms are too strong for them to handle by themselves. For others, drinking has been a long-term coping mechanism, and quitting alcohol means losing their support.

At SUN Behavioral Health Delaware, we know that recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) is possible because we’ve seen it time and time again. We know it might seem daunting right now, but healing can happen, and we can help.

If you’ve been drinking regularly for a while, your brain and body have become accustomed to it. Alcohol creates a rush of dopamine in the brain when it’s consumed, which is responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. We get a rush of natural dopamine when we do things like eating, exercising, or having sex. Alcohol might give us those same feelings, but it also creates an overabundance of dopamine in our system. 

When we consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, our bodies begin to expect it. By cutting down on our drinking or quitting altogether, we feel starved for dopamine and go into withdrawals. 

Withdrawals don’t happen to everyone. They also aren’t as severe for some as they are for others. There is no set reason for why some experience more profound withdrawals than others, but one thing is certain: they’re uncomfortable. 

For some, withdrawals come in the form of headaches, nausea, dehydration, fatigue, or anxiety. Others might experience hallucinations, delirium tremens, panic attacks, or suicidal thoughts. Withdrawals themselves are rarely fatal, but they can be potentially dangerous. They can also get in the way of recovery or abstinence – it’s hard to stay away from alcohol when people know that drinking will help curb the symptoms once again. 

This is why SUN Behavioral Delaware offers alcohol detox, a medically-assisted and safe way to make it through your withdrawal symptoms. 

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox happens in the first 72 hours after your last drink. It’s the process your body goes through to flush the alcohol out of its system. During this time, your body is working hard to rid itself of any toxins left behind. This is when withdrawal symptoms usually start, peak, and subside.

SUN Behavioral Health’s Alcohol Detox happens during this time. You’ll come in and meet with one of our clinicians to be assessed for your needs and to create some goals for yourself. People who choose detox stay in our facility so we can monitor their condition, treat their withdrawal symptoms, and help them heal safely and efficiently.

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During this time, you may start to experience common withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea 
  • Insomnia 
  • Tremors/shaking 
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Cravings
  • Dehydration 
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures 

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Alcohol detox often includes medication to help in the management of these symptoms. Some of the medications we’ll prescribe in our detox program at SUN include:

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Alcohol Detox
  • Benzodiazepines. Similar to alcohol, benzos are a nervous system depressant. They work to increase the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter, in the brain. The increase in GABA helps calm the nervous system and relieve (or even eliminate) withdrawal symptoms. Typically, benzos are only prescribed for a total of 3 days during that initial withdrawal process. Benzos can cause withdrawals when used for long periods, but when it’s prescribed by a physician and taken properly, discontinuation of use is fairly simple.
  • Anti-nausea medications. Nausea is common in the first 3 days after your last drink. Part of this is simple dehydration. Other reasons for nausea include erosion of the stomach lining due to alcohol, lack of appetite (unhealthy nutrition), and more. Thankfully, some medications can help with this including Zofran, promethazine, and metoclopramide. 
  • Anti-psychotics. If you’re living with a psychiatric condition and trying to stay away from alcohol, it can be difficult. Especially if you’ve been using alcohol as a form of self-medication. In some circumstances, prescriptions for antipsychotics can be helpful during the detox process and beyond. If you’re experiencing severe mental distress, let us know. We can help.

Alcohol Detox Timeline

Everyone’s detox timeline is different. There are several factors influencing how long your detox journey, including:

  • How long you’ve been drinking
  • How much you’ve been drinking 
  • Whether or not you relapse during the process
  • Your age
  • Your mental health history 

Usually, the symptoms of withdrawals peak and drop within those first 3 days. If your withdrawal symptoms are severe, they may progress to hallucinations and delirium tremens after the first 3 days. Let’s take a look at an alcohol withdrawal timeline:

0-12 hours after your last drink: You may start to feel nauseous, shaky, or irritable. Your appetite may plummet and you might find it hard to sleep. Restlessness and headaches are also common during this time.

12-24 hours after your last drink: Symptoms can get more severe. Hallucinations and seizures can happen, depending on how much alcohol you regularly drank. Cravings will also begin here, and you may feel incredibly tempted to relapse. A detox program is helpful here because you’ll be around professionals who can help you and encourage you to stick it out. 

24-48 hours: Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and even vomiting are common during this period. You might also experience tachycardia (a racing heart), cold sweats, or even fevers. Anxiety, depression, or panic attacks can peak here. It’s important to cultivate a strong support system so that you’re not going through this part alone.  

48-72 hours: Symptoms will generally start to subside, but you could have lingering dehydration and anxiety. If your withdrawals are severe, they may continue past this point. If you start hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, get medical attention immediately.

The Importance of Alcohol Detox

Alcohol Detox at SUN Delaware

We know how hard it can be to leave alcohol behind. We also know how much strength it takes to walk away from it, and we want to help. Your recovery is possible, and it can start today. To learn more about SUN Delaware’s alcohol detox programs, call us today at 302-604-5600!

302-604-5600

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the body heal when you stop drinking?

Alcohol affects many areas of our body, and all of those areas work to repair themselves when you stop drinking. This includes the liver, the stomach, and even the brain. It’s partly why withdrawals are so uncomfortable. 

How long does it take for the body to recover from alcoholism?

Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as 4 hours after the last drink, but they usually begin to subside on day 3. The liver starts to show signs of healing within 30 days, the skin starts to repair itself after only a few weeks, and your appetite can return to normal within 7 days. Everyone’s journey is different, and so is everyone’s body. The time it takes for your body to recover from alcoholism is unique to you. 

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)?

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is what happens to heavy drinkers when they suddenly stop drinking alcohol. If someone is living with AWS, they’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, nausea, insomnia, tremors, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, and more.

Alcohol Detox Program

The fact that you’re here looking at options for your recovery is a great first step. For more information or to set up an appointment, call us at 302-604-5600 today!

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SUN Behavioral Delaware

21655 Biden Ave
Georgetown, DE, 19947

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