Alcohol Addiction Detox, Treatment, Rehab, & Long-Term Recovery

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At Guardian Recovery, our comprehensive alcohol detox and treatment programs are designed to address the physical aspects of addiction as well as the underlying emotional factors that contribute to this chronic disease. Using a combination of medical supervision, therapies, and support groups, we equip individuals with the tools and strategies they need to overcome addiction and maintain long-lasting sobriety. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with an alcohol use disorder or other addiction, contact us today. Our experienced team of professionals is dedicated to providing therapeutic treatment in a safe, supportive environment.

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The Alcohol Detox & Rehab Process

The process of detoxing from alcohol and completing a rehab program at Guardian Recovery occurs in several stages, typically decreasing in intensity with each level of care. 

Treatment Components Include:

  • Medical Detox
  • Therapeutic Interventions
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment
  • Education and Skill-Building
  • Support Groups
  • Recreational and Holistic Approaches
  • Aftercare Planning
  • Continued Support

Detoxing the Body From Alcohol Misuse

Medical detox is the first stage of alcohol addiction treatment, with the goal of managing withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced as the body adjusts to alcohol’s absence. Clinical supervision is critical during detox to minimize the risk of potentially severe or life-threatening effects. While vital signs are monitored, medications can be administered to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Mild to Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms During Alcohol Detox May Include:

  • Anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
  • Strong cravings.
  • Agitation and irritability.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Headache.
  • Tremors and shakiness.
  • Insomnia and fatigue.
  • Elevated heart rate and heart palpitations.
  • Increased blood pressure.

The most serious effect of alcohol withdrawal is a dangerous complication known as delirium tremens (DTs). (1) There are several severe symptoms associated with DTs, but some of these may also emerge independently without a person experiencing the full-blown condition.

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With DTs May Include:

  • Extreme disorientation and confusion.
  • Severe agitation, anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Fever and profuse sweating.
  • Hypertension.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Seizures.

Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms

Even when managed in a medical setting, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary in duration depending on multiple factors, including the person’s severity of dependence and overall health. Early symptoms can occur as soon as a few hours following the last drink and peak after approximately 48–72 hours. Symptoms gradually improve over the next few days and are usually minimal after a week.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline & Length of Detox

The alcohol withdrawal timeline typically occurs in 4–5 stages, depending on the individual:

  1. Early Stage (6–12 hours after the last drink)—Symptoms are typically mild.
  2. Peak Stage (48–72 hours)—Symptoms are at their most severe.
  3. Subacute Stage (3–5 days)—Symptoms usually begin to subside.
  4. Late Stage (1–2 weeks)—Most symptoms have resolved.
  5. Protracted Withdrawal (several weeks to months)—Emotional symptoms persist.

Medications Used During Alcohol Detox

Certain medications can help manage the alcohol withdrawal process by reducing the severity of symptoms and cravings. They are intended to make detox safer and more comfortable for the individual. Naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram are medications commonly used to reduce cravings and prevent relapse, while benzodiazepines may be administered in some cases to reduce anxiety, tremors, and the risk of seizures. (2)(3)

Other medications are available to treat other symptoms experienced during withdrawal, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and others.

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Can You Detox From Alcohol Dependence on Your Own?

Medical professionals do not recommend detoxing from alcohol without clinical supervision. Unlike many other substances, alcohol withdrawal can lead to severe and life-threatening effects that individuals are wholly unprepared for or unable to treat on their own. Experiencing extreme complications such as confusion, hallucinations, or seizures could make it extremely challenging for a sufferer to understand they require emergency medical attention and call 911 when needed. (4)

How Long Are Alcohol Detox & Addiction Treatment Programs?

The duration of alcohol detox and treatment programs varies depending on the individual’s needs and goals. While medical detox typically lasts a few days, intensive treatment can last for weeks, months, or longer. Those who enter treatment as inpatients are often advised to participate in prolonged programs, eventually leading to outpatient levels of care. Following intensive treatment, ongoing therapy and other forms of support can continue for years if necessary.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment & Co-Occurring Disorders

When an individual experiences both an alcohol use disorder and a mental health condition, these are referred to as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Both disorders should be treated simultaneously because psychological issues often lead to self-medication in the form of substances. Conversely, drug and alcohol use exacerbates existing mental health conditions.

Common Disorders That Co-Occur With Alcohol Misuse Include:

  • Major depressive disorder.
  • Anxiety and panic disorders.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Rehab Options & Treatment Programs for Alcoholism & Addiction

There are various levels of care that may be appropriate for an individual entering a rehab program, depending on their needs and the severity of their alcohol use disorder. These can be used as standalone treatment approaches, but more often, they are employed as step-down levels of care that decrease in intensity as the individual progresses in their recovery. Aftercare often consists of ongoing therapy, medical care, and peer support groups.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient (residential) treatment programs offer 24/7 care to individuals in a safe, secure, and comfortable environment. Individuals may stay for anywhere from 1-3 months or longer, depending on their needs. During inpatient treatment, clients are provided with medical care and support around the clock. They have access to common areas and group meetings with a community of peers going through similar issues.

These programs typically consist of various therapeutic treatments and services, including individual therapygroup therapyfamily therapy, support groups, recreational activities, and holistic approaches like meditation and yoga.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization (PHP) offers similar therapies and services as inpatient treatment. However, individuals participate in the program during the day and return to private residences in the evenings. This level of care offers increased flexibility and accountability.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs only require participation for a few hours a day, several days a week. They offer even further flexibility for individuals, allowing them to begin reintegrating into their lives and attending to other responsibilities. These programs include similar therapies and services as higher levels of care.

IOP programs are focused on learning how to reintegrate into the outside world during early recovery. Our virtual IOP programs are designed to address the psychological, social, physical, and spiritual aspects of addiction.

Virtual & Online Treatment & Counseling

Virtual and online treatment programs allow individuals to access therapies and counseling services on the Internet. Guardian Virtual programs include 3–4 group sessions each week, in addition to one individual therapy session. 

Topics Covered in Group Sessions Include:

  • Relapse prevention training.
  • The importance of peer support groups, such as 12-step programs.
  • Demographic-specific group workshops.
  • Substance use and mental health.
  • Life skills training.
  • Holistic workshops, such as mindfulness meditation.

Alcohol Addiction Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a critical component of any alcohol addiction treatment program. Although relapse is very common, having a well-developed plan in place can significantly reduce the risk of returning to alcohol use.

Steps for Relapse Prevention Training Include:

  • Reviewing common triggers in a safe, supportive group environment. 
  • Identifying personal triggers during individual therapy sessions.
  • Recognizing early warning signs of relapse.
  • Developing coping skills to use when experiencing a trigger or recognizing warning signs.
  • Establishing a tailored relapse prevention plan to share with loved ones dedicated to supporting recovery efforts.
  • Practicing healthy coping mechanisms in real life during PHP or IOP.


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Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Contact Guardian Recovery Today 

If you or a loved one needs help overcoming alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental health conditions, contact us today to learn more about our streamlined admissions process and multiple levels of care. We can also provide you with a free pre-assessment and a no-obligation health insurance benefits check. Our goal is to ensure our clients are given the holistic treatment and support they deserve so they are prepared to face the world with a healthier outlook and foster a fulfilling life.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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