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What Is Medication-Assisted Detox for Alcohol Abuse?

Detox is the first step in recovery from alcohol abuse. During detox, you might experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, especially if you are a heavy drinker or have been drinking regularly for a long time. Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms can cause you to give up on recovery early during treatment. Medication-assisted detox for alcohol abuse at a rehab facility can help ease these withdrawal symptoms to keep you from relapsing during the early stages of alcohol addiction recovery.

Why Do People Relapse During Detox for Alcohol Abuse?

Relapse occurs when you begin drinking again after attempting sobriety. Throughout the course of long-term recovery, you are working toward learning healthy ways of coping with stress and finding fulfillment in your life without alcohol to prevent relapse. However, the first step can often be the most challenging, which is why many people continue to drink or don’t begin their recovery until they face a severe consequence due to drinking.

You might intend to quit drinking several times before finally committing to recovery with peer support, therapy, and alcohol rehab. When you drink alcohol regularly, your body and mind develop a dependency on the substance. In other words, your biology changes, and you begin to struggle physically without alcohol in your system. 

The physical struggle of detoxing from alcohol causes withdrawal symptoms as your body and mind “reset” themselves. Due to the unpleasant — and sometimes life-threatening — withdrawal symptoms, many people in early recovery succumb to these symptoms and go right back to drinking.

What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

According to MedlinePlus, “Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 8 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours, but may go on for weeks.” During the peak of withdrawal, about one to three days after you stop drinking, you might be the most vulnerable to relapsing.

Common withdrawal symptoms from alcohol abuse include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Profuse sweating with cold, clammy skin
  • Mental fog
  • Headaches
  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting 

While these symptoms are unpleasant or uncomfortable, they will generally go away after about a week of detox. However, heavy drinkers or people with other health conditions might have severe symptoms, which might include:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Extreme confusion, like not knowing where or who you are
  • Fever and other flu-like symptoms

When you have severe withdrawal symptoms, you are at a greater risk of danger to yourself during detox. Medical detox from an inpatient rehab facility can help you safely detox while safeguarding you from relapsing during early addiction recovery. At a detox facility, you might be prescribed medications to ease withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on continuing treatment and maintaining sobriety.

Medications Used for Alcohol Detox

Certain medications can be used for alcohol detox, which will help you continue your treatment while lessening the severity of withdrawal symptoms. For some, medications can help them avoid experiencing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. While medications can help make detox go more smoothly, they will not eliminate your withdrawal symptoms. Instead, they can help you feel comfortable and stable as you move forward with inpatient rehab or outpatient services following detox.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain medications to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Disulfiram helps to keep you from drinking again during detox by causing unpleasant symptoms when you drink alcohol while taking disulfiram.
  • Naltrexone blocks the euphoric feelings associated with drinking alcohol. When your brain no longer releases the “feel-good” chemical reward while drinking, you can manage cravings for alcohol much better.
  • Acamprosate calms the brain’s reaction to detoxification. When you detox, your brain goes into an overly excited state without alcohol to sedate this activity. This medication helps to keep you from getting excessively anxious during detox.

In addition, other psychiatric medications can help you during alcohol detox. Some facilities might recommend that you take anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines during detox. Benzodiazepines include medications like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, and Klonopin. These medications can help you with the psychiatric withdrawal symptoms of depression and anxiety. They also reduce brain hyperactivity, which can lessen your risk of seizures and insomnia when you detox from heavy alcohol consumption.

What is Medication-Assisted Detox for Alcohol Abuse?

The use of medications during addiction treatment from alcohol use disorder is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While MAT does use medication to help you during alcohol withdrawal, meds are only part of this type of treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), MAT is a comprehensive treatment, including therapy and counseling to “provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach” when treating alcohol use disorder.

During MAT, you might go to group or individual therapy, engage in holistic health approaches, and take psychoeducation courses to learn more about long-term recovery. The medications used during MAT can help you think clearly and stay focused as you learn the lifelong coping skills that will help you quit drinking and continue in your recovery journey.

Medication-Assisted Detox for Alcohol Abuse in Nashville

Entering treatment for alcohol use disorder can be difficult, especially knowing that you might experience painful withdrawal symptoms during detox. At Brentwood Springs Detox in Nashville, Tennesse, we can help you can safely manage withdrawal symptoms during medical detox before continuing your ongoing treatment. For more, call us today at (615) 560 7545 or visit our admissions page to start your recovery with us.

What kind of medication is used in Alcohol detox?

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