Most alcoholics hoping to get sober and live a clean and healthy life will be advised to complete a programme of detoxification before receiving professional rehabilitation treatment for their illness.

Detox begins with the person quitting alcohol and then waiting until all traces of the chemical substance has left the body. While the body is eliminating alcohol from the system, it is common for certain physical and mental symptoms to occur. These symptoms tend to happen as a result of the body trying to get back to normal.

How Alcohol Affect the Body

Alcohol affects the body in different ways. When a person drinks alcohol, the body reacts by trying to resist the changes caused by the foreign substance. When the effects of the alcohol wear off, the body continues to respond by either slowing down or speeding up as it tries to return to normal.

The symptoms caused by the body’s overcompensation can leave a person feeling on edge and uncomfortable, and some people quickly realise that drinking more alcohol will cause these symptoms to subside.

The more a person drinks, the more the body gets used to these doses. This means that the individual has to drink even more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. Soon, the body begins to crave the chemical substance and whenever it does not get it, it will react, causing the person to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. As addiction takes hold, the individual feels compelled to drink even when doing so would cause negative consequences.

How Detox Affects the Body

When alcoholics make the decision to try to get better, they will have to quit drinking. The process that follows is known as detox. The first step in a programme of detox is to quit the chemical substance completely. However, once the body realises the alcohol is not coming, it ‘panics’, becoming off balance in the process. The body tries to get back to normal; as a result, a variety of withdrawal symptoms can manifest. These can include mild symptoms such as shaking, sweating and nausea; however, some people will experience more severe symptoms that can include seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, and delusions.

Safe Detoxing

It is recommended that those undergoing a programme of detox do so under medical supervision. Detox can be very unpleasant and frightening, but with the right care and support from medical professionals, most of the symptoms can be prevented.

In some instances, it may be possible for medication to be offered that will help to ease the symptoms and make the patient more comfortable.

It is worth noting that some withdrawal symptoms, which are known as the DTs (delirium tremens), can be very dangerous, and even life-threatening. It is also worth remembering that it is impossible to know who will be affected by the DTs before detox begins.

Detoxing at Home

Although some people prefer to detox at home, it is never advisable to detox alone. If you do not want to detox at a supervised facility, make sure that someone will be with you at all times and that the person knows what to expect. Sitting with someone who is detoxing from alcohol is a major responsibility and it can become quite distressing. Before you ask someone to take on this role, make sure they are fully cognisant of what could happen and that they know what action to take in all eventualities.