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    Alcohol Withdrawal: Everything You Need to Know

    Alcohol withdrawal can be a serious, sometimes dangerous process if not managed, and while it helps with the physical dependence on alcohol, it requires more than just an alcohol detox to stave off relapse. Alcoholism is a psychological illness, and as such, therapy should also be considered if addiction is identified.

    Alcohol Detox: What is it?

    The first and most important step in the recovery process is to stop drinking alcohol. If an individual drinks, their brain and body will become dependent on it, meaning that the user will start suffering withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking. Depending on how long the individual has been abusing alcohol, and how much they drank on a daily basis, the withdrawal process can be quite dangerous. Individuals with a dependence or addiction to alcohol should never try to quit “cold turkey”. Alcohol detox is a very important step in recovering from alcoholism.

    Why can an alcohol detox prove dangerous?

    Since alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the central nervous system. After long-term abuse, the user will begin to suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. It can cause seizures, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, hallucinations and tremors. To avoid these dangerous side-effects of withdrawal, you should seek medical attention before stopping drinking.

    What do I need to know about alcohol withdrawal?

    As mentioned above, withdrawal can be dangerous. However, medical treatment is available, and will help the individual to withdraw from alcohol without any of these negative side-effects. While detox alone may not cure alcoholism; it is nevertheless an important part of the addiction recovery process.

    Delirium Tremens: The dangerous withdrawal symptom

    Delirium tremens (DTs) is the most dangerous symptom of alcohol withdrawal, and if not treated quickly, it can prove fatal. If unaddressed, DTs can cause confusion, disorientation, hallucinations and extreme nervousness. These symptoms are much more dangerous if left unmanaged.

    How Long will Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

    Many individuals will experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal for about a week, depending on their state of physical dependence on alcohol. If the individual is not severely dependent, then the symptoms will generally resolve after about 3 to 4 days – but depending on the severity of their addiction, this may take far longer (7-14 days). The length of time needed to recover from alcohol withdrawal should not be under-estimated.

    If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping drinking, it may predispose you to relapse. Because the withdrawal symptoms don’t always go away after a specified amount of time, individuals can feel that they have “not yet recovered” and succumb to the temptation of alcohol once more. This is why it’s so important to have an aftercare plan in place once the detox process is complete.

    To help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, a medical alcohol detox is recommended. Your GP may be able to assist you with this, or you can opt for a private detox in a facility. Another option now available in the UK is a private home alcohol detox.

    Should I take time off work during the detox process?

    While you will need to take some time off work during the recovery process, it is important to note that you should not let your employer pressure you into returning to work before you are ready. If you need more time off than the specified amount of time, then you should try and negotiate with your boss instead of returning to work early. This is particularly important if your job involves driving.

    What should I do following an alcohol detox?

    Even after the detox process, you should still seek medical help while recovering from alcohol addiction. You should visit your doctor and discuss further treatment options and appropriate rehabilitation programmes (rehab therapy). This is another phase of the recovery process, and one that can be very dangerous if it’s ignored. Alcohol and drug treatment should be considered even after detox.

    Residential Rehabilitation

    Many recovery programmes require that the patient check into a residential rehabilitation program, however the NHS does provide some outpatient services. While some recovery methods can be treated at home, or in outpatient settings, patients that are suffering from acute addiction issues usually require more intense treatment options. R

    Residential treatment programmes are located throughout the UK. It is important to remember that some people may need longer stays than others, which is why it’s so important to discuss your individual needs with the centre before attending.

    Does the NHS Provide Residential Rehab

    No, the NHS will not provide residential rehab for alcohol addiction. They may refer you to an alcohol detox center, but this is merely a referral, which doesn’t guarantee that you will be accepted for treatment. The NHS does provide therapy services for addiction recovery on an outpatient basis, and they may in exceptional circumstances fund treatment privately, however this process is lengthy and there are no guarantees.

    Support Groups: The Key to Long Term Abstinence

    Support groups are an important part of addiction recovery, particularly if you are suffering from prolonged alcohol relapse. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and other similar organizations can provide a community where users can regain their self-esteem, learn coping techniques and receive the personal support necessary to remain abstinent for a prolonged period of time.

    It is important to remember that alcoholism and drug addiction are lifelong issues that require a long-term commitment. If you find that you are struggling with addiction recovery, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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