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Alcoholism does not affect any one specific group of people. It does not discriminate in any way. Literally any person can be affected, regardless of their life situations. Some people are more apt to get the disease, but everyone is exposed to the pressures. War veterans, teenagers, government officials, and even doctors may have this disease. It is not a poor disease or a race disease, as many believe it to be. Any race, age, creed, sexual orientation, religion, and gender can have this illness. It doesn’t matter if a person is rich or poor, as both celebrities with fame and fortune and individuals with no jobs or prospects can be afflicted. No one is immune from this disease.

What is alcohol detox?
Alcohol detox is a process used by medical personnel to ensure a person survives alcohol withdrawal. It also allows the patients to have dignity while they are going through withdrawal, as it will relieve them of the embarrassing side effects. It also prepares the person for the next step in their treatment, whether it’s residential treatment or outpatient treatment. Once detox is completed, the patient can be progressed without the fear of severe health emergencies. The patients are given medications to comfort them and relieve their withdrawal symptoms for a time ranging from approximately three to fourteen days (depending on symptoms) and observed to ensure the treatment is working. They are monitored closely during this period, and given plenty of fluids, vitamins, food, care, and compassion.

What are the goals of alcohol treatment/detoxification facilities?
The number one goal of a detox facility is to safely withdrawal the individual from alcohol. Some inpatient facilities are strictly for detoxing a patient, while others both detox and treat the patients for varying periods of time. After detox is completed, the patient will either be given follow up instructions for an outpatient program or begin the therapy treatments of inpatient rehab. Some rehabs programs can last up to a year, while others are as short as two weeks.

What happens during alcohol detox?
Each facility has its own program for detoxing patients. Some of them administer a benzodiazepine if the withdrawal is extreme. Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium mimic alcohol’s effects on the brain almost exactly. These drugs are also dangerous and after long-term abuse, a person can suffer the same withdrawal symptoms as alcohol. A much more effective drug has been used more and more frequently in these facilities, Librium. It is also effective in easing withdrawal symptoms without all the dangers of benzodiazepine drugs. Haldol is occasionally used if the patient experiences seizures. Vitamins are also administered daily. Some places will administer the drugs on a set schedule while others will give them on an as needed basis. This varies from place to place. These medications are extremely effective and, in most cases, completely eliminate all withdrawal symptoms. Anyone considering treatment should not be afraid of feeling bad in a detox facility, as the staffs are well-trained and the person will be treated with care.

It is important for an alcoholic to keep in mind that these medications can be dangerous and it is best to be detoxed in a rehab facility. Some doctors will write an alcoholic a prescription for a benzodiazepine and expect the alcohol to take them in a fashion that will take care of their alcoholism. When this happens, the alcoholic can change dependencies and become addicted to the benzo. As Benzodiazepines are pills instead of a drink, they can be ingested a lot faster and cause more harm than alcohol. It takes less time to cause severe damage and the withdrawal effects are just as deadly as alcohol (as they affect the same areas of the brain). These medications should always be treated with caution.

What are the psychological effects of alcohol detox?
Detoxing from alcohol can be a traumatic experience. The person is in an unfamiliar environment, usually surrounded by other alcoholics and drug addicts that are ill and emotionally unstable. It can also be an intimidating environment, because depending where a person goes, court-mandated criminals might be going through treatment there as well. Many people experience sleeplessness, even with the medication, which can lead to anxiety. Vivid nightmares are also a common occurrence in this process. A lot of people feel ashamed and embarrassed. These feelings are normal and that is why detox is only the first step in recovery. Further treatment will show the alcoholic how to overcome these feelings. When a person constantly hides from their emotions by getting intoxicated, they tend to be overwhelmed by feelings when he or she can no longer drink.

Patrick Smith lives in Thailand and helps people to become free from alcohol and drug addictions.