Alcohol Detox

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Alcohol Detox: Signs, Withdrawal & Treatment

Across the globe, 25% of all deaths in the age group 20-39 are alcohol-related, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additionally, out of the 16+ million individuals who reported a problem with alcohol in recent years, only one million actually sought treatment and attempted sobriety. Often times, the grueling process of alcohol detox deters alcoholics from getting sober.

Let’s close in on the United States. While we may not drink as frequently as some of our friends across the waters in Europe, problem drinking in the US is getting worse and worse every year. As of the latest information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a little over half of Americans over the age of twelve self-report as currently being an active drinker, a little less than 140 million people. This number includes children and teenagers across a span of nine years who cannot even drink legally.  

Clearly, not everyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. However, it can sometimes take a long while for someone who abuses alcohol to come to terms with the fact that they have crossed the line. If this period of denial goes on for too long, physical and psychological ailments that come along with excessive drinking will become serious, perhaps even deadly.

Unfortunately, the health risks associated with binge or excessive drinking often are overlooked, but the side effects of alcohol abuse can creep up on the human body quicker than most would think. It can less than a couple of years of heavy drinking to do serious damage to a person’s brain, heart, and liver.

Tired man drinking alcohol


No one wants to admit to being an alcoholic, not even to themselves. In fact, many alcoholics are oblivious or unaware that their drinking has reached the point of being “alcoholic” and may possibly just consider it to be problematic at times.

Unfortunately, loved ones and those who spend the most time around the drinker are typically the first ones to notice when it starts getting serious, and they are typically met with backlash when they try and talk to their spouse, child, co-worker, or friend. There’s no need to panic just yet, Inspire Health Centers is here to help you or your loved one through this emotional process as painless and simple as possible.

Some of the signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect your loved one of having a problem with alcohol can include:

  • Finding alcohol bottles in strange places like closets, dresser drawers, under beds, trunks of cars, etc.
  • Drinking at every occasion, family function, or outing.
  • Drinking alone and/or excessive isolating.
  • Spending little or no time doing things they enjoy, as well as other symptoms that can also coincide with depression.
  • Memory loss, blackouts, or not remembering conversations or events.
  • Frequently noticing them drinking, yet never witnessing any “hangovers”.
  • Shaky extremities — most commonly hands, but can progress to other body parts over time.
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Prior to crossing the line into physical dependence, alcohol enhances GABA effects, which is the neurotransmitter in your brain that produces relaxation and feelings of being calm. When someone uses alcohol excessively, GABA begins to become suppressed, so drinking more alcohol is needed to achieve the same effects as before. This process is referred to as building a tolerance. This can happen with any mind or mood altering substance; most notably depressants or “downers”. When alcohol is abused for long periods of time, your brain begins to require alcohol just to feel normal.

Let’s face it — alcohol may be the toughest substance to detox from, as it’s intense psychological symptoms and risk factors involved make it increasingly difficult, depending on the length of time and amount of alcohol the patient has been drinking. It is never advised to quit drinking abruptly without the supervision of medical professionals. In some situations, medication is required to not only ease the process, but prevent seizures, dangerously high blood pressure, stroke, and delirium tremens.

Every person who has abused alcohol experiences different symptoms from the withdrawal period. It is extremely important to detox in a safe alcohol detox facility where a doctor can prescribe medications to slowly taper down from while they monitor the patient’s progress.


Abruptly quitting alcohol can cause your brain to go into a state of hyperexcitability, causing feelings that are opposite of the feelings of inebriation, which is a major reason it is never safe to quit cold turkey or trying it alone. If you don’t know what symptoms to look for, it can be difficult to determine what is happening to your body when you begin to experience alcohol withdrawals. An alcoholic can begin to notice symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome as early as two hours after the last drink. 

Early warning signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • Hand tremors, “shaky” feeling through the whole body
  • Anxiety or Panic Attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing or the feeling of a “furry” tongue
  • Fever

Even if you are only experiencing mild symptoms, it is highly encouraged to seek medical assistance immediately, as symptoms can rapidly progress.

Heavier drinking or heavy drinking over a long span of time can produce even more serious symptoms, like:

  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or touch).
  • Delirium Tremens, which is defined as a form of psychosis that only occurs in very heavy (often involves chronic relapsing) drinkers and includes disorientation, body tremors, longer periods of hallucinations, confusion, and anxiety.
  • Seizures.
  • Stroke, which is associated with morbidly high blood pressure.


Although detoxing from alcohol is only a short, smart part of the entire recovery process, it can most definitely feel like the most intense step. However, completing this phase of treatment will lift a huge weight off of you or your loved one’s shoulders and often awards the patient a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Depending on usage, our goal is for any patient of ours, at any of our levels of care, to ease through this period. Typically, medication will be administered, starting with the highest dose and gradually tapering down. This process minimizes discomfort and most importantly — keeps the patient safe. 

The first couple of days are typically the hardest. During this time, a patient may start to feel real feelings for the first time in years. Combined with the anxiety that comes along with the detox process, this can cause some patients to feel overwhelmed. Although those first two or three days can feel like a lifetime, it is such a tiny step that opens so many doors and provides a person with a launchpad to do things that they never thought they could do before.  


Because this is such a sensitive time in a person’s recovery, the staff is available around the clock to talk, assist with various tasks, or just sit with patients so they don’t feel alone. (You might be surprised to know that many of our staff members have been in the same exact position and are now in recovery themselves!)

In certain situations, a patient may not be able to commit to taking the time off of work or being away from children, etc. If this is the case for you or your loved one, alcohol detox is also offered on an outpatient basis as well, however, it is only recommended in less severe cases. 

Whether you’re seeking alcohol detoxification for yourself or a loved one, call us with any questions you may have and let’s begin your process. You may also send a confidential message via our Contact Page

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