Why is Detox Necessary for Alcoholics?

It’s common to associate detox with drugs like heroin or cocaine, but people addicted to alcohol need detox, too. A person who drinks heavily on a regular basis develops a physical dependence on alcohol. When he stops drinking, withdrawal symptoms set in, making it almost impossible to avoid drinking without help.

Understanding Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol is commonly used in America. An estimated 17.3 million report heavy alcohol use, while an estimated 138.3 million Americans drink alcohol.[1]Since alcohol is legal and widely available, it’s more commonly abused than other addictive substances. There are a variety of risk factors for developing an alcohol use problem. A complex mix of genetic, physical, psychological and social factors combine to increase a person’s chances of developing alcohol dependence. Someone may drink to self-medicate anxiety or develop a problem due to a genetic propensity to metabolize alcohol differently.[2]

People dependent on alcohol experience several symptoms when they stop drinking or drink less than usual, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating or a racing heart. Aside from the physical symptoms, users experience other life altering symptoms. Someone may drink so much it interferes with family responsibilities, preventing a parent from caring for children or a person from making it to work regularly.[3]

Avoiding Medical Complications During Alcohol Detox

Heavy alcohol users may experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking.

Serious symptoms, such as convulsions, black outs or grand mal seizures, can occur, so it’s best for heavy drinkers to detox while under medical supervision.4

Other symptoms of withdrawal from heavy alcohol use include: nausea, vomiting, heavy sweating, hand tremors, clammy skin, insomnia, agitation and fever. While 20 years ago, there was only one medication available to help a person with alcoholism, there are several more available now. Professional treatment centers may offer several therapies, including medication, to specifically treat certain symptoms. This is why it is so important that detoxification take place under the supervision of a licensed facility equipped to handle the stages of withdrawal.[4]

When You Need Alcohol Detoxification

Alcohol abuse brings on destructive patterns in everyday life, work and social situations. Impaired judgment endangers relationships and increases the risk of physical harm. Signs of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Alcohol tolerance: over time, people who drink find the same amount of alcohol has a diminished effect than previously and they need more alcohol to achieve the same results
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms:heavy drinkers my experience one or more of the following symptoms anywhere from several hours to a few days after reducing intake:
    • Anxiety
    • Hand tremors
    • Nausea
    • Insomnia
    • Rapid pulse
    • Increased sweating
    • Hallucinations (visual, auditory or tactile)
    • Seizure activity
  • Drinking alcohol to cover or avoid withdrawal
  • Drinking more alcohol in a shorter period of time or prolonged alcohol use
  • Trying to quit without success
  • More time needed to recovery from hangovers
  • Avoiding certain social functions to hide alcohol abuse or indulge in heavy drinking without attracting notice
  • Continued alcohol consumption even though it aggravates health issues, such as an ulcer or depression.


  • Since alcohol use is socially acceptable in many circumstances, it may be difficult for a heavy user to admit he has a problem. It may take involvement from family and friends to highlight the need for treatment and encourage a person to seek help.

    Patients treated at a facility that offers evidence-based treatments have better success rates and stay sober longer. Once a patient finishes the withdrawal process, she can move on to the next stage of treatment. Addiction experts agree, to be successful patients must go through a period of psychological counseling to examine the underlying reasons behind alcohol use and learn ways to manage cravings to drink in the future.[5]

    Detoxing from Alcohol at The Canyon

    Treatment programs offered at The Canyon give patients the ability to recognize and manage cravings for alcohol and other drugs. Patients learn to identify stressful situations and improve relationships with others. The ability to improve social skills and manage the ups and downs of life helps people stay sober.

    Staff members at The Canyon respect a person’s unique situation and also treat any co-occurring conditions that include mood related complications such as depression or anxiety.If you would like to learn more about our alcohol detox, contact us today.


    [1] Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017 from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015.pdf.

    [2] American Psychological Association. (2017). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and Their Treatment. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017 from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/alcohol-disorders.aspx.

    [3] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2012). Alcohol Use Disorder. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders.

    [4] National Institutes of Health. (2010). Alcohol Dependence. Fact Sheet. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017 from https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/Pdfs/AlcoholDependence%28Alcoholism%29%28NIAAA%29.pdf.

    [5] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017 from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders.

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