Authored by Jayant Row in Addiction
Published on 03-28-2009
The process of alcohol detoxification requires that alcohol be eliminated from the human body and that any withdrawal or other symptoms that are bound to occur are treated medically or psychologically or both. Withdrawal symptoms can be quite distressing and can even become fatal if the addiction to alcohol is very severe. Treatment requires that the person is required to be an inpatient for at least a week so that he is under constant medical supervision, as the sudden cessation of alcohol consumption can lead to other symptoms that require medical intervention.
Some patients who undergo the alcohol detoxification process may suffer from hallucinations, delirium tremens and even convulsions, which if not immediately attended to can prove to be fatal. There are medical drugs available that can be used to minimize these symptoms, but the administration of these has to be very properly controlled and monitored, so that any side effects noticed are quickly treated. Initial dosages of such drugs is always high, but is gradually tapered down over the week over which the alcohol detoxification program generally lasts. Drugs are also available which can reduce the craving for alcohol which such a patient is almost sure to suffer from.
Once the body has been rid of all the alcohol, the patient needs to undergo continuous therapy and counseling to see that no relapse occurs. This is because even after the detoxification the craving for alcohol will remain with the patient for a long time and he constantly needs to guard against this. The patient needs to join a support group which will help him to constantly fight this craving for alcohol.
Alcohol detoxification can also be undertaken in the home. This does not mean that it is completely undertaken without outside help. It just means that the patient continues to remain at home, while being supervised by friends or relatives, who have at their beck and call the necessary medical help whenever they require it. The advantage of doing this process at home is that it maintains the privacy of the patient, and ensures that he feels more comfortable with the treatment as he is in a familiar environment. It costs much less than being an in-patient at an addiction centre and because of the privacy maintained, the patient responds better to treatment. This is useful where the addiction is mild and where the patient is likely to respond well to instructions by the caretaker and the doctor’s attending the case. Most doctors who will undertake such home detox programs will visit the house dressed in casuals, as if they are friends visiting, and the neighbors will not even have an inkling of the treatment under progress.
Any alcohol addiction is a physical as well as psychological disease and therefore any detoxification process needs that both these aspects be simultaneously treated if the cure has to be permanent. Family support or support of friends and relatives is very important and a person undergoing this detoxification process would do well to ensure that he is fully supported by the people around him. Any attempt to keep this secret can only result in his not having behind him the support and assistance of the people who matter in his life.