Alcohol Detox Side Effects – What Bad Can Happen?
Detoxification of the body is a complex activity, the purpose of which is to remove toxic and harmful substances and decomposition products of ethanol from the body. As a result, well-being is significantly improved, abstinence is smoother, the functionality of internal organs is normalized, the balance of vitamins and basic microelements is restored. Most importantly, alcohol detoxification prepares the individual for the next stage – active treatment followed by rehabilitation. It is the initial and most important stage in the treatment of alcoholism.
When is detoxification required? Alcohol in large quantities has a toxic effect on the body. Regular use of it leads to the fact that the liver does not cope with the cleaning function. As a result of the breakdown of ethanol, harmful substances are formed and enter the blood, tissues, and organs. They primarily affect the nervous system, pancreas, kidneys, and brain. Constant poisoning with toxins leads to irreversible consequences, so it is necessary to cleanse the body.
Benefits of detoxification
Anyone who abuses alcohol or is diagnosed with alcoholism has an opportunity to give up alcohol. This will be associated with few alcohol detox side effects. What happens when one quits drinking? If an alcoholic, whose body is physically dependent on alcohol, stopped drinking alcohol, side effects can even be life threatening. However, the benefits of proper and safe detoxification far outweigh all the negative aspects of the detoxification.
The detoxification results include:
- cleansing from toxins and ethanol breakdown products;
- withdrawal from hard drinking and elimination of symptoms associated with the withdrawal;
- improvement of well-being;
- decreased physical attraction to alcohol;
- restoration of the damaged organs;
- normalization of sleep and elimination of anxiety.
Cleansing the body relieves the unpleasant feelings of a hangover, but does not stop the craving for drinking. To completely eliminate addiction, inpatient treatment is required, followed by rehabilitation. The following long-term pros of quitting alcohol can be very motivational:
- Individual feels better
- Personal development takes place
- Emotional state improves
- The aging of the body slows down
- Extra energy makes life more successful
- Relationships in the family, with friends, colleagues improve
- New hobbies and interests appear
- The financial situation gets better
- Self-esteem increases
- Need to lie, both to oneself and others, disappears
- No hangover symptoms
- Reducing and maintaining weight gets easier.
How does one recover after quitting alcohol?
Alcoholics, trying to quit cold turkey suffer greatly from withdrawal symptoms because their body has already developed alcohol dependence. The degree, specificity, and duration of such alcohol detox side effects may vary in each individual in different ways.
The National Institutes of Health suggests that symptoms of alcohol detoxification tend to begin 8 to 12 hours after the last drink, whether mild or severe. Symptoms become more intense 2-3 days after drinking alcohol. This continues until the peak is reached and slowly decreases. Statistics also show that these alcohol detox side effects usually last for 5 to 10 days before going away. However, some symptoms can last for a year or so. These are symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and mood swings.
- Mild symptoms
A couple of hours after one stopped drinking alcohol, side effects of mild severity usually start appearing and can last for about 2 weeks. Mild symptoms include hand tremors, sleep disturbances, fatigue and heart palpitations. Nausea and vomiting as well as loss of appetite are also common. A person usually experiences anger, depression, wild mood swings, and anxiety. They are usually tolerant for some time, and can also be experienced in combination with a strong desire for alcohol, which is very difficult to deal with.
- Moderate symptoms
Moderate symptoms usually occur only in the absence of mild symptoms. These include more severe symptoms such as breathing problems, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rate, sweating (especially the palms), and may be accompanied by confusion, irritability, and continued mood swings.
- Severe symptoms
In the worst cases, detoxification can cause intense or disturbing symptoms such as hallucinations, blackouts, memory loss, high fever, and physical seizures. These can last for about 72 hours. If alcohol detox side effects are severe and frequent, immediate medical attention is a must.
It is worth getting ready for the fact that the transition to a healthy lifestyle will take more than one week. By the end of the first month after a person stopped drinking alcohol, the side effects of detoxification disappear. However, the psychological state can be difficult: as a rule, the person is sad and depressed. One loses a usual pattern of behavior and needs to figure out how to live on, what to do, and so on, which is very stressful for most. This is when a person is very tempted to take a drink to make everything “good” again. If one is prepared for this, this desire will pass sooner and it may be a little easier.
At the same time, the physical condition improves – the swelling of the face and limbs goes away and circles under the eyes disappear. The trembling of the hands no longer bothers. During the first and subsequent months after giving up alcohol, liver functions are actively restored.
About three months after stopping to drink alcohol, the immune system begins to work at full capacity. The person is healthy and energetic. One has already learned to spend free time without alcohol, having found interesting activities.
Six months is an impressive period of a sober life. Recovering addicts usually find interesting hobbies and other activities during this time. Yet, even a long period of abstinence is not a guarantee that a person will not break down by starting to drink alcohol again. The risk of relapse is still very high. Once again, being prepared is the best way to minimize this risk.
By the end of the first year of sober life, the physical and emotional state of the person stabilized. A person realizes that life without alcohol is wonderful. One actively communicates with friends and family, looks for goals in life, and achieves them. After a long rejection of alcohol, the liver and kidneys are completely restored, unless serious damage has been done earlier.