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When discussing the negative effects that alcohol detox has on the body, many people focus solely on physical symptoms. This is understandable, as the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be rather severe. However, it is also important to understand the negative emotional impact of alcohol detox. Doing so can help to ensure that an individual understands how to get through alcohol withdrawal and has a successful detox and, is on the path to long-term recovery. 

Understanding Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox is a relatively straightforward concept. It is the process of alcohol leaving the body. Typically, it takes around six hours for alcohol to be fully eliminated from the bloodstream.

However, while alcohol detox is not a very complex idea, the process of detoxing from alcohol is something much more involved, especially for individuals who are struggling with issues of alcohol use disorder (AUD). This process is not only highly involved but it can also be extremely physically taxing and, in some instances, can pose life-threatening harm.

Understanding the Physical Side of Alcohol Detox

There are many physical side effects and symptoms that can accompany alcohol detox. For example, as explained in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, “In early stages [of alcohol detox], symptoms usually are restricted to autonomic presentations, tremor, hyperactivity, insomnia, and headache… Symptoms start around 6 [hours] after cessation or decrease in intake and last up to 4–48 [hours] (early withdrawal). Hallucinations of visual, tactile, or auditory qualities, and illusions while conscious are symptoms of moderate withdrawal,” and “They can last up to 6 [days].”

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal correlate directly with a few factors. These include how long an individual has been drinking, the severity of their alcohol dependence, any comorbidities like mental health, and how much time has passed since their last drink. It should also be noted that unattended alcohol detox can be very dangerous. In some instances, this can result in seizures, stroke, or even heart attack. In addition to these symptoms, there can be a very serious emotional impact of alcohol detox.

Understanding the Emotional Impact of Alcohol Detox

The mind is powerful, and when it’s determined to have something, it can go to any length to obtain it. Now, of course, this statement has the mind personified; however, it really is an “obsession of the mind” that often keeps people from detoxing, and also stops people from completing a detox.

The emotional impact of alcohol detox can be harder to quantify than the physical impact because it is less visible. Yet, various emotional consequences, like anxiety and depression, that often accompany alcohol detox can be very serious. Also, there can be a severe sense of loneliness and hopelessness that manifests during the detox process.

These negative emotions can lead to some very devastating behaviors, such as self-harm and even suicide attempts. These emotional actions are just a few of the reasons why detoxing with a professional is much safer than trying to do so alone.

Managing the Emotional Impact of Alcohol Detox

Being in a safe and professional environment during the detox process can greatly reduce the pain that the emotional impact of alcohol detox can cause. While professional detox won’t resolve emotional symptoms entirely, professionals in detox programs will have the tools to make the process run smoother and, perhaps most importantly, as safe and supportive as possible for a client.

Going through a professional detox can also connect individuals to professionals who can help with the emotional trauma that often surfaces in the process of an alcohol detox. These are professionals like psychotherapists, counselors, and recovery coaches. There is also a better chance of connecting to the types of recovery communities that can help when those emotional issues become overwhelming (such as 12-Step communities, for example).

Also, if any other types of co-occurring disorders are diagnosed during the detox process (which is not uncommon), a professional can help to determine and prescribe any medication that may help. They will also be able to recommend the next steps after an alcohol detox, such as inpatient addiction and mental health care, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), or an intensive outpatient program (IOP).

Our Primary Purpose at The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand that getting through alcohol withdrawal can be daunting and difficult. However, we also know that it is a crucial step toward attaining the recovery that is necessary to live a fulfilled and healthy life. So, for those who need help, take that first step – and we’ll help you take the rest.

Physical issues are not the only ones that arise during the detox process. There can also be many emotional issues that come to the surface, especially issues of anxiety and depression. It is critical to address these emotional issues while also understanding that they too will pass with time and appropriate treatment. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the happy, healthy road to long-term recovery. For more information about the emotional issues that can arise during the detox process, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT