Perils Of Alcohol Detox

by AdamS on June 3, 2012

When a person that has an alcohol addiction decides to stop drinking, the first phase that the body goes through is known as alcohol detox. Depending on how frequently they drink and how long they have been drinking, they can experience withdrawal symptoms that range from mild and uncomfortable to dangerously life-threatening. Many people do not know how severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be compared to someone experiencing withdrawals from a drug detox. The more harsh alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include delirium tremens, seizures, strokes, and heart attacks.

Delirium Tremens (DT)

Delirium tremens can be described as a more extreme form of disorientation. A person experiencing DT will notice difficulty breathing, a rapid heart rate and a high fever. Those that are more likely to have DT usually also suffer from co-occurring mental disabilities, or have a history of medical conditions like seizures and liver dysfunction. The Journal of Emergency Medicine claims that DT typically occurs within a week after the last drink.


Throughout the duration of an alcohol addiction, the body becomes dependent on the substance and builds up toxins in the nervous system. When a regular drinker discontinues the use of alcohol, the nervous system reacts by entering a state of hyper-activity, which can induce a seizure. There are different levels of seizures but all forms can be dangerous to the well-being of the person experiencing it. Seizures can cause a variety of physical injuries as well brain and cardiovascular damage. Professionals say that seizures typically occur between six and 48 hours after the last drink.


Strokes can be an outcome of DT or a seizure. An abnormally high heart rate combined with the lack of oxygen getting to the brain can cause cells in the brain to malfunction; thus inducing a stroke. When someone experiences a stroke, the loss of brain cell function can have different levels of severity. Strokes can cause severe damage to the nervous system and blood clots that result in death.

The Importance Of Medically Monitored Alcohol Detox

Due to the dangerous nature of alcohol detox, those that wish to quit abusing alcohol are encouraged to do so under the supervision of professional medical care. Medically monitored detox insures that patients will receive an assessment of their addiction, an appropriate diagnosis, and an effective care plan. Alcohol detox facilities that have 24-hour care will also provide patients with the comfort of nursing interventions where they can be given non-addictive medications to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Professionals say that between alcohol detox and typically treated drug detox, alcohol detox is the most dangerous. That is because the chemical that is built up in the body over the duration of an addiction is one of the only chemicals that can cause death during withdrawal. Due to the potentially fatal outcomes that can occur in alcohol detox, it is important that those seeking recovery from their addiction consult a professional about entering a detox program that provides 24-hour medical supervision.

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