The need for detox medication is once again supported by a report from the University of Maryland Medical Center, which indicates that about 95% of individuals newly abstaining from alcohol have mild-to-moderate withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may include insomnia, loss of appetite, agitation or anxiety and tremors, while 15 – 20% experience seizures and hallucinations. About 5% of this population experiences delirium tremens (DTs), which must be treated as an emergency for associated fatality concerns.
Due to the wide spectrum of pain and trauma associated with detox, it is highly recommended that those with moderate to high levels of alcohol in their systems go through detoxification. Detox requires the guidance and oversight of medical professionals who can observe and treat symptoms.
When an individual abstains abruptly, withdrawal symptoms begin within a day to two days after the last drink. During this period, the inhibition of brain activity caused by alcohol does a turn-around, causing the central nervous system becomes overstimulated and stress hormones to go ‘wild’.
Calming the individual is the first order of treatment, and patients should be carefully observed to determine the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Once the level of severity is determined, detox medication is often prescribed to inhibit nerve-cell excitability in the brain. These prescription drugs are administered to relieve withdrawal symptoms, reduce the risk for seizures and help prevent DTs.
Detox medication is not usually prescribed for more than 2 weeks, because some doctors are concerned about abuse of detox drugs, including various anti-anxiety medications. Having a medical professional oversee detox ensures that side effects, which may include drowsiness, respiratory problems, weight gain and even increased agitation. Medical professionals will know what to do in each of these circumstances, so make sure that professional help and alcohol withdrawal go hand in hand. You may not need a full range of detox medications, but the advice of a trusted medical professional should be sought.