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Detox is the first stage in treating alcoholism. During this stage, alcohol is completely flushed from the body, meaning the toxin is removed.
Withdrawal symptoms, which occur during detox, are a result of the body not having alcohol to prompt specific actions. These symptoms typically go away within 1 to 2 weeks of starting detox as body functions return to normal. However, this process can take longer. It largely depends on the severity of the alcohol use disorder (AUD).
After completing detox, you can focus on other parts of recovery, such as different activities, therapies, counseling sessions, and more. In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a common saying is “all you have to do is stop drinking, and change your whole life!”
Alcohol is a depressant. And, with chronic alcohol use, the body begins to rely on it to function. The brain stops producing certain natural chemicals that it receives from alcohol, ultimately causing dependency.
When someone stops drinking, it takes time for their body to adjust. This causes withdrawal symptoms, including:
Some people are hesitant to quit drinking because they’re worried about experiencing withdrawal symptoms during detox. Some people only experience minor symptoms, while others experience extreme discomfort (typically chronic/long-term drinkers).
Withdrawal symptoms can change quickly and aggressively. This is why it’s important to detox under the care of medical professionals. Staff members at rehab facilities can help manage severe withdrawal symptoms with various medications. This allows people to focus entirely on recovery.
Health professionals do not recommend detoxing from alcohol at home. The symptoms can vary significantly depending on the person and the overall state of their health. Every withdrawal experience is different. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or even fatal.
One of the primary reasons detoxing from alcohol at home isn’t recommended is because of delirium tremens (DTs). DTs are symptoms and body problems that can occur approximately 3 days into detox.
DTs occur in around 5% of people experiencing withdrawal and have an untreated mortality rate of 25 to 30%. With appropriate medical care, around 5% of people die from DTs. They usually occur in people:
DTs cause a person to experience:
Supervised detox is highly recommended to avoid DTs and other severe withdrawal symptoms. They can be fatal if not treated quickly after symptoms start.
There are various types of rehab programs catered to specific treatment needs:
Most private alcohol treatment centers offer inpatient (residential) rehab. Both long- and short-term residential treatment options are available.
Inpatient rehab can last for a while, depending on the addiction severity. For example, long-term residential treatment can last from 6 to 12 months. Short-term residential treatment can last from 3 to 6 weeks.
Short-term programs are a quicker, but still intensive, option based on a 12-step approach. After treatment, people transition to outpatient therapy. They can also attend self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Long-term inpatient treatment involves comprehensive, 24-hour care for an extended period. A common residential treatment model is the therapeutic community (TC), which works to reconnect people with society. This typically lasts between 6 and 12 months.
Both short-term and long-term residential programs involve:
Outpatient programs help people overcome dangerous drinking behaviors and learn how to identify and prevent triggers.
Someone in an outpatient program meets daily for the first several weeks or even months. These meetings decrease over time as the person continues through recovery.
Outpatient programs aren’t usually as intense as inpatient options. They give people the freedom to go to work or school while receiving treatment. They’re an excellent option for people who have a stable home environment and/or don’t have a serious drinking problem.
However, if a person is battling a long-term drinking problem, they may need to consider a more intensive treatment program.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three different medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorder (OUD). These medications help relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body.
FDA-approved medications to treat alcohol addiction are:1
The medications used in medication assisted treatment (MAT) are evidence-based and can’t be substituted for each other.
The type of care provided by a rehab center affects the total cost. Many other factors affect the cost of rehab, including extra medical care and facility amenities.
Outpatient detox can cost from $1,000 to $1,500. Most inpatient centers include detox in the program fees.
Some inpatient rehab treatment programs may cost around $6,000 for 30 days. Well-known facilities often cost up to $20,000 for a 30-day program.
For 60- or 90-day programs, the average costs range from $12,000 to $60,000.
Insurance is one of the most common ways to cover rehab costs. AUD and SUD are medical conditions that must be covered by all approved insurance companies in the U.S.
The amount insurance pays for depends on the company, your specific plan, and what the treatment provider accepts. Most rehab centers accept insurance or have alternative financing options.
Types of insurance that may cover alcohol addiction treatment include:
Not everyone has insurance. However, there are still ways to get financial help for alcoholism treatment. Try looking for a free or low-income center or look into programs that provide financing options. Financing is often a good choice because free rehabs have limited funding and waitlists.
Many inpatient centers offer financing options for people without insurance. Some may feel anxious about debt, but it’s essential to look at addiction rehab as an investment. 12-step programs are also free, valuable resources for many people.
Over time, treatment will pay off. Becoming sober allows people to get their life on track. People who’ve recovered from alcohol abuse can also save money because they no longer use drugs or alcohol.
AUD is a condition that doctors diagnose when someone’s drinking causes distress or harm. The condition can range from mild to severe.
It’s diagnosed when someone answers ‘yes’ to two or more of the following questions.
In the past year, have you:2
If you experience any of these symptoms, your drinking may already be a concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change.
A health professional can formally assess your symptoms to see if AUD is present.
A variety of treatment programs are available. But the right program is different for everyone.
Your sobriety is important, so it’s essential to choose a treatment center that fits your needs. This makes it much more likely that you’ll complete the program successfully.
Understand that every rehab facility has different specialties. Even those with the same specialty will measure success differently and provide unique paths to recovery.
Before choosing a facility, consider your rehab goals. Determine what success means to you by thinking about life and sobriety outside of treatment.
You’ll also want to determine if there are any other substances you need to detox from, aside from alcohol. Think about whether you have any other underlying issues that need treatment. When a mental health condition accompanies AUD, it is known as a dual diagnosis.
By thinking about your goals and life after rehab, you can prepare for a successful recovery.
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