If you’re thinking of quitting drinking, or know someone who is, it can be a challenging journey. You may not know what to expect and might have heard a number of myths and partial-truths about detoxing. The reality is that every person is different, and there are many factors that go into detoxing. It depends on former alcohol consumption, how long a person has drank and how regularly, their age and gender, weight, and a variety of other factors.
When considering a detox, it's important to depend on a professional facility with experts who can guide you through the process. A withdraw from alcohol can vary so much, so there are bound to be surprises along the way. However, there are some key questions about alcohol detox that should be addressed. Some common questions include:
1. How bad will my withdrawals be? This depends. Going cold turkey can be dangerous in some cases since the withdrawal symptoms can shock the body. Others are fine with this approach. How “bad” the symptoms are also have to account for the fact that every person experiences pain differently. That’s why piercings and tattoos vary in pain severity so much. However, a general rule of thumb is the more addicted a person is, the worse their withdrawal symptoms will be.
Don’t worry. When detoxing via a professional facility, withdrawals will be safe and guided. Pain isn’t a sign of “weakness” when it comes to detox. It includes both mental and physical symptoms and can be managed through a variety of strategies.
2. Once I detox, am I no longer an alcoholic? This can depend somewhat on who you ask. However, most western detox experts consider a person “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” This doesn’t mean that you’ll be a slave to your addiction for life. However, it does mean that it needs to be managed for life. It’s usually not safe for an alcoholic to ever imbibe again. Fortunately, alcohol isn’t a necessity. There are other addictions, such as food, that are necessary in life and in that regard may be a more difficult detox.
3. What if I want to stop mid-way through a detox? Stopping can be very tempting, especially if the person experiences pain during withdrawals. However, stopping can be dangerous and also makes your efforts moot. This is one of the primary reasons it’s such a good idea to go through detox in a professional facility. Trying to detox yourself at home isn’t just dangerous, but there are plenty of opportunities to give up. If you’re ready to stop drinking, it’s a good idea to make use of all the support you have available. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
4. Will I just replace my alcohol addiction with another addiction? Again, it depends. This is a very common coping strategy for many. In reality, almost any addiction or obsession can be dangerous when taken to extremes. This includes seemingly healthy addictions, such as orthorexia. If choosing between something healthy, like working out regularly, and alcohol, obviously working out is a better pick. However, it’s equally important to work on moderation and balance throughout your detox experience.
Addiction often stems from what's colloquially called an "addictive personality." Why do some people get addicted and others don't? There are numerous theories and studies behind this question. What we do know is that people who tend to take things to extremes will do so with many substances and lifestyle choices. It's important to not replace one dangerous habit with another. You may notice that in many Alcoholics Anonymous gatherings, there are a lot of smokers. Not all of them have always smoked. Nicotine is, unfortunately, a popular replacement habit for alcoholics.
5. Will I physically look terrible during and after detox? Maybe. Once again, this is on a case by case basis. However, these aesthetic side effects will generally subside. You may notice sub-par skin, bloating, or sudden weight loss. All of these are symptoms of your body going through detox and are temporary.
If you're ready for detox, get the professional help, support, and guidance you need for the best and safest results.
About the Author:
Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who has been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.