Detoxification or “detox” is the first step of achieving long-term sobriety and getting a firm foothold in your recovery. During detox, the harmful chemicals from alcohol abuse leave your body after you stop drinking. Your body will adjust during the detox process, and you might struggle with withdrawal symptoms due to alcohol dependence. Medically supervised alcohol detox can help you detox safely and manage the uncomfortable, distressing, and sometimes deadly alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
The Effects of Binge Drinking and Long-Term Alcoholism
Binge drinking and long-term alcoholism can cause many issues in multiple areas of your life. While alcohol can wreak havoc on your body and brain, you might also struggle with relationship issues, legal troubles, problems at work, difficulty coping with stress, and overall dissatisfaction with your quality of life.
Drinking heavily — whether you binge drink as a “weekend warrior,” drink daily after work until you fall asleep, or drink alcohol from the morning and throughout the day — can alter the chemical balance in your brain and damage vital neural pathways. Alcohol hijacks your brain’s “feel-good” reward system, disrupting natural processes within your brain.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a common problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking occurs “when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.” The CDC continues, stating that “one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.”
While not everyone who binges alcohol develops a severe alcohol use disorder, binge drinking can still cause multiple psychological, social, and physical health issues. Those who binge drink are at a greater risk of:
- Engaging in reckless behaviors, like unprotected sex or driving under the influence
- Experiencing trauma and abuse
- Developing certain types of cancers
- Chronic health issues, like hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cirrhosis of the liver
Defining Long-Term Alcoholism
Long-term alcoholism can include episodes of binge drinking or drink heavily on a regular basis. The CDC defines heavy drinking as “consuming 8 or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.” Heavy drinking does not always lead to alcohol dependence; however, the longer you engage in these behaviors, the more likely you are to develop an addiction or an alcohol use disorder. Long-term alcoholism might be defined as engaging in binge drinking or heavy weekly drinking for months or years.
The adverse effects of heavy drinking and binge drinking are similar. Both of these behaviors can lead to damaging the brain’s natural reward center, leading to you feeling the need to drink daily or as a means of stress relief. These cravings can become all-consuming, and you might begin to revolve significant parts of your life around drinking alcohol.
Fortunately, when you detox from alcohol, you can reverse these negative effects of alcoholism and binge drinking. To heal your brain from the damaging effects of alcohol, medically supervised alcohol detox can get you started in long-term recovery from alcohol addiction.
What Is Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox?
Medically supervised detox from alcohol abuse means that you enter an inpatient rehab facility while you detox from heavy drinking. You might experience withdrawal symptoms once you stop drinking alcohol, which can be painful and sometimes life-threatening.
During medical detox, you will have the care and support of medical professionals to help you safely detox and begin alcohol abuse treatment. When you stop drinking, your brain might go into a hyperactive state without the sedative and euphoric effects of alcohol. You might experience intense cravings, especially as your withdrawal symptoms peak within a few days of your last drink.
If you attempt to quit drinking or detoxing on your own at home, you could be at risk of relapsing or having intense withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can include physical issues, like a racing heartbeat, fever, or seizures. You might also have distressing psychiatric symptoms, like extreme confusion or hallucinations.
When you have these types of withdrawal symptoms without medical supervision, you are at significant risk of developing chronic health issues, psychiatric problems or even dying as a result.
The Benefits of Medical Detox for Alcohol Abuse
Medical detox can help you safely manage withdrawal symptoms. You might need support for some of the emotional issues that come up or deal with the underlying mental health issues at the root of your drinking. Medical detox can help you with the following benefits:
- Peer support of others dealing with similar issues
- Medical care to help with any severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms
- Caring staff to assist you with dealing with the emotional struggles of detox
- A safe place to detox from alcohol, without temptations or triggers for drinking nearby
- Continuing treatment after detox for any underlying issues uncovered during detox
When you detox at a rehab facility that includes continuing care, like inpatient alcohol rehab or outpatient therapy, you can transition easily from detox to long-term recovery.
Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox in Southern California
Recovery from alcohol abuse is a long-term process that begins with detox. Get started in your recovery journey with the care and help of professionals during medical detox. At Gratitude Lodge, located in Long Beach and Newport Beach, we can help you in all stages of recovery, from detox to sober living. For more information, visit our admission page or call us today.