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Alcohol Detox

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Medically Assisted Alcohol Detoxification

Alcohol withdrawal can be serious. When a heavy drinker stops drinking abruptly, he or she will undergo uncomfortable (and sometimes life-threatening) symptoms. These symptoms typically include headaches, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, body tremors, and anxiety, but can also include a wide range of other serious physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Alcohol itself is a depressant, and it has a sedative effect on the brain. Prolonged and heavy use can affect brain chemistry, sometimes causing irreparable damage. Alcohol alters the levels of neurotransmitters present within the brain – the chemical hubs that send messages throughout the rest of your body, dictating your behaviors, your emotions, and the way you think. If you continue to use daily (or almost daily), your brain chemistry will begin to adapt to the excess alcohol. It will begin to produce chemicals like serotonin in greater quantities, attempting to replenish the supply that alcohol has been compromising. When alcohol use stops suddenly, the brain doesn’t know how to regulate itself — chemical production goes haywire, and symptoms of withdrawal inevitably ensue.

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Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening if not overseen by a medical professional. If you or someone close to you has been struggling with alcohol abuse or dependency, call Guardian Recovery 24/7 at (888) 481-3929. We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Alcohol Withdrawal
Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal take place between one and seven days after an alcoholic has stopped drinking. The symptoms generally take between two and four days to peak. Initially, these symptoms might start out rather mild. They could include a loss of appetite, profuse sweating, shaky hands, nausea, and vomiting. These physical symptoms will often lead to behavioral symptoms, including severe agitation, a shortened temper, anxiety, and extreme restlessness. A combination of these withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable enough to lead an alcoholic right back to drinking. For this reason, admission to a structured and closely monitored detox facility is often necessary for one to get sober. If as alcoholic is in the throes of withdrawal, and he or she is attempting to detox alone without medical assistance, the chances of relapse are exceedingly high.

Additionally, severe alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. The more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Body tremors – Tremors typically begin within the first several hours after the last drink and typically peak between 24 hours and 48 hours. In most cases body tremors are coupled with increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Alcohol withdrawal seizures – Seizures caused by alcohol withdrawal can be very severe. They are often unpredictable, and generally occur within 12 to 48 hours of the last drink. Alcohol withdrawal Because seizures can be life-threatening when not adequately treated, entering into a medically monitored detox facility is crucial.
  • Alcohol hallucinosis – This symptom is common among men and women who have been struggling with a severe alcohol abuse disorder. Alcohol hallucinosis generally begins within the first 12 to 24 of the last drink. The symptoms include feelings of dissociation from reality, and visual or auditory hallucinations.
  • Delirium tremens – This symptom associated with severe alcohol abuse withdrawal typically lasts for between five days and one full week, and includes a range of symptoms including changes in breathing and body temperature, reduced blood flow to the brain, extreme confusion, disorientation, sleep disturbances and visual or auditory hallucinations.
  • Suicidal ideation – Alcohol withdrawal’s effect on the brain can cause severe depression and thoughts of suicide.

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Guardian’s Alcohol Detox Program

There are certain medications that can be used to alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal while simultaneously preventing a patient from dangerous symptoms like seizures or suicidal ideation. Of course, the medications used depend on how severe the symptoms are, which depends on how long the abuse has been going on and the volume of alcohol consumed on a daily basis.

At Guardian Recovery we combine medication assisted treatment (MAT) options, around-the-clock medical supervision and a range of specialized addiction services in order to provide the most comprehensive and individualized alcohol detox program available. We often utilize benzodiazepines to treat the more severe symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, in addition to over-the-counter pain relievers and non-addictive sleep aids. We also employ holistically-based recovery methods including mindfulness meditation, acupuncture and yoga. If clients are feeling up to doing so they are encouraged to participate in individual and group therapy sessions.

How Guardian Recovery Can Help

At Guardian Recovery we have extensive experience working with alcoholics of all degrees, ages, and personal histories. We’ve worked with middle-aged men and women who have been daily drinkers for decades, and we’ve worked with college students who may have developed a binge-drinking problem while in school. No matter what degree of alcoholism you have been struggling with, we are available to help. Our detox facility is equipped with the professional care needed to successfully overcome symptoms of withdrawal, from therapeutic and pharmaceutical intervention to preparing our patients for the next step on the road to recovery.

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At Guardian Recovery we are available to walk you or your loved one through every stage of the early recovery process, from medically monitored detox to thorough and personalized aftercare planning. The moment you or your loved one gives us a call we begin developing a plan of action for intake. We understand just how insidious alcohol addiction can be, and we know that when it comes to seeking medical detox we are generally working with a small window of willingness. We can complete the entire admissions process in a matter of minutes. We begin by conducting a brief pre-assessment over the phone which helps our clinical and medical teams determine the severity of the alcohol use disorder and identify which detox methods are going to be the most effective for each unique case. We then explore potential coverage options and set a date and a time for intake. To learn more about the alcohol detox process, to begin your own journey of recovery, or to help your loved one get started, contact us today.

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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:

Cayla Clark

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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