We think of toxic things as poison, things that kill you instantly. Some people might think of "detox" as something you do on some exotic diet where you only drink juice for a week.
We don't generally think of alcohol as "toxic." We generally view alcohol positively. You see commercials and movies where people are drinking, and they're having a great time. But too much alcohol can often become a problem very quickly.
Consuming alcohol in moderation can be just fine. But the real face of irresponsible drinking is addictive drinking - also known as alcoholism.
What you need to know about the process of detoxing from one of Washington State's most addictive substances.
First things first. Just so you don't think this is a minor issue, let's go over some statistics pertaining to just how prevalent drug abuse in the state of Washington.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) 2015 Behavioral Health Barometer, Washington State's rate of alcohol dependence has consistently been higher than the national average.
From 2013 to 2014, there were about 383,000 individuals over the age of 12 that were dependent on or abused alcohol within the last year alone. That's around 6.6% of the population in this age group.
When it comes to youth binge drinking, there were about 125,000 youths from the age of 12 to 20 (around 14.4%) that binge drank within the past month. This number, again, was higher than the national average.
And finally, heavy drinking rates for individuals over 21 also exceeded the national average across Washington State at about 6.9% (or 336,000) adults reporting heavy alcohol use in the past month from 2010 to 2014.
It's clear, then, that Washington in particular has an addiction problem. But what about treatment?
Unfortunately, there are still an enormous number of alcoholics that are unable to come to terms with their own addiction and seek out professional help in Washington. SAMHSA estimates that around 90.6% of alcohol-dependent individuals in Washington did not receive treatment for their alcoholism from 2010 to 2014.
Treatment for alcohol abuse in King County is also on the decline, dropping from 4417 treatment admissions in 2010 to 3106 admissions in 2014. And given that binge drinking and other pre-alcoholic behaviors are actually on the rise in many areas, this might point to a problem rather than a less-addicted population.
The alarming rise in alcohol abuse across the state and the county has some pretty substantial impacts.
As expected, drunk driving in Washington State is a bigger problem than other parts of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, self-reported drunk driving rates in Washington came in at about 2.1%, around 0.2% higher than the national average.
The number of arrests for DUIs in King County has also risen substantially – by 22% from 2015 to 2016 alone.
The fallout here is clear – DUI-related deaths in the state are continuing to rise year over year and even reached an all-time high in 2015.
In fact, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission's 2016 Washington State Traffic Safety Annual Report, impaired driving was responsible for over one fifth of all serious injuries and almost half of all fatalities from auto crashes over 2010 to 2015.
What's more, the CDC estimates that the economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in Washington State are estimated to be around $5.8 billion. This figure takes into account lost workplace productivity, health care expenses, criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage.
Alcoholism doesn't feel like a problem to the alcoholic themselves. To them, the state of being sober is the one that hurts, and the state of drunkenness is the normal one. So the body and mind draw the logical conclusion to solve the problem of feeling bad with more alcohol. This is a chemical impulse your body has learned, and the point of alcohol detox is to help you get rid of it.
The initial period of withdrawal symptoms can be potentially dangerous without proper medical attention, so detox isn't just about making things easy - it's about making them safe.
But what is detox? Do you need it for alcohol rehab? How bad can withdrawal symptoms really be? Let's get into answering those questions first.
Let's go ahead and put this out front: Withdrawal symptoms for alcohol are a big deal because they're potentially fatal.
But what actually are withdrawal symptoms? Simply put, withdrawal symptoms are the physical reactions your body has to not getting the substance it's addicted to. They vary from person to person, but there are some common ones to look out for, like nausea, tremors, and even severe seizures.
These symptoms are severe, can last several days, and are frequently fatal when left untreated. DTs are a big part of the reason why alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to have withdrawals.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can start popping up just a couple of hours after you quit drinking, and can persist for as long as two weeks. Detoxification helps lessen those symptoms.
Despite the legality of the substance and the widely-held belief that it's one of the safer drugs to be addicted to, alcohol actually has some of the most physically uncomfortable and even painful withdrawals of any drug – even more so than some of the most notorious illicit drugs.
According to Mental Health Daily, these symptoms include:
The severity of these symptoms is one of the main reasons why relapse among alcoholics is so common. That's why it's crucial to partner with a professional Bellevue alcohol detox program – these programs have the expertise and the medications needed to help you not only get through withdrawals but also feel as comfortable as possible throughout.
The exact timeline for your alcohol detox in Bellevue isn't set in stone. Individual genetics, the extent of your addiction, overall physical health, and a variety of other factors all contribute to just how long you'll feel the effects of the detoxification process.
In general though, your alcohol withdrawal timeline will likely begin around 8 hours after your last drink and will generally last around a week or so. In more extreme cases, it can take several weeks to start feeling normal again.
With proper guidance during your Bellevue, WA alcohol detox though, you'll be significantly more comfortable throughout the process.
One of the most important reasons for partnering with a professional alcohol detox in Bellevue, Washington is because withdrawing from alcohol without medical help can actually end up costing you your life thanks to a condition called delirium tremens.
More commonly known as "The DTs," delirium tremens is more common than you might think among chronic alcoholics. In fact, around 5 to 10% of chronic alcoholics will generally develop delirium tremens during detoxification.
According to MedlinePlus:
It occurs most often in people who have a history of alcohol withdrawal. It is especially common in those who drink 4 to 5 pints (1.8 to 2.4 liters) of wine, 7 to 8 pints (3.3 to 3.8 liters) of beer, or 1 pint (1/2 liter) of "hard" alcohol every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have used alcohol for more than 10 years.
Delirium tremens is known to cause grand mal seizures which can in fact be fatal. As a result, alcohol is one of the only drugs with life-threatening withdrawal symptoms which is why it's so important to use a professional alcohol detox in Bellevue rather than going cold turkey by yourself.
But how do alcohol withdrawal and The DTs cause seizures in the first place?
The DTs are brought on by an overcompensation of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain. To explain, alcohol causes the brain's main inhibitory chemical GABA to become more potent. In order to counteract the stronger GABA, the mind increases the potency of its excitatory chemicals. But when alcohol is quickly removed from an addicted system, the GABA returns to normal while the excitatory chemicals stay the same.
As a result, the brain is launched into a flurry of electrical activity by the stronger excitatory chemicals, thus causing a host of dangerous and uncomfortable symptoms including grand mal seizures.
Other symptoms involved in delirium tremens include:
Medicine is a big part of most detox programs, and some medications are absolutely necessary for preventing the most severe of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But holistic detox programs are on the rise in popularity, and most of the best detox programs now use a blend of the two styles.
Many alcoholics have a tendency to forgo a proper diet, choosing instead to binge of junk food or simply "drink their meals." One of the signs of addiction is that the body's need for a drink overrides the desire to eat healthy food. Basically, any sort of "basic need" impulse your body gives you turns into a desire for alcohol.
Exercise is also a major component of detox, because the focus is on kick-starting your body's natural ability to handle toxins. This helps reduce the chances you'll become dependent on detox medications. Once your body starts getting healthier in general, your body's normal detox functions kick back in and start processing things more efficiently.
There isn't any medicine that can help you detox better than your own healthy body. Your body knows how to heal itself. You just have to give it the fuel it needs to do it.
That being said, there are a few medicines that can help treat the uncomfortable symptoms of alcohol detox.
Anti-nausea medications, for instance, can be instrumental in treating the overwhelming gastrointestinal problems that accompany getting clean from alcohol.
Pain relievers like ibuprofen can help relieve symptoms like headaches and muscle pains but be careful as too much can cause severe liver damage.
And finally, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications like Ativan can also be helpful in treating some of the severe psychological symptoms that can end up plaguing you during withdrawals as well. However, these should only be obtained through a licensed physician or professional alcohol detox in Bellevue as they can be quite addictive when used inappropriately.
During your Bellevue alcohol detox program, your specific needs will likely be assessed, and your presiding physician may prescribe any combination of these drugs or others. It's worth remembering, though, that not all detoxifications are exactly the same. You may experience something far different than another individual going through the very same program.
As such, it's important to trust your alcohol detox staff throughout the process. They will know how best to treat your symptoms and if any addiction medications are in fact necessary.
One of the biggest components of getting through your alcohol addiction is finding new healthy activities to fill up your day. The list below of alcohol-free things to do around Washington will help you keep your mind on sobriety and show you that life without alcohol is both possible and more fun than you thought it'd be.
Since exercise plays such an important role in detoxification (as you'll likely learn during your Bellevue alcohol detox program), it's helpful to know where you can go in the area to get your endorphins pumping.
The gyms below can all be found around Bellevue and will not only help you get in shape, they'll also keep you feeling motivated and energized during and after your detoxification.
Addiction can have a significant impact on your health and when you finally make the choice to detox, it'll take some serious nutrition to get your body through the withdrawals. The health food stores below are all found in the Bellevue area and can be a great way to start eating better and get clean quicker.
Believe it or not, there are things you can do to make the detox process easier on yourself that have nothing to do with your alcohol use. Mostly, these are steps geared toward jump-starting the sort of holistic treatment you'll get in detox, like eating right and drinking water.
If you plan to go to detox, it is not a good idea to try and quit drinking first. If you do want to try to quit on your own, be very aware of any nausea or tremors you may have after a few hours. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms advance quickly, so seek immediate medical attention before your symptoms have a chance to advance to potentially severe levels.
Your detox clinic will most likely offer you a heavy dose of medication on your first day without alcohol, because the whole point of detox is to help you navigate the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism. If you try to quit cold turkey a day or two before you go to detox, you're going to put yourself right in the middle of your withdrawals before you get that help, and as we've discussed, that's potentially dangerous.
If you want to start backing down your consumption, that's fine. Try to drink as little alcohol as possible to stave off withdrawal symptoms. But the shock of going cold turkey - especially if you're a heavy drinker - is something that's best handled when you have the medical attention around you to handle it.
Detoxing from an alcohol addiction on your own can be incredibly dangerous. Not only can it substantially increase your chances for relapse down the line, it can also lead to a life-threatening syndrome known as delirium tremens which can cause hallucinations, severe confusion, and even life-threatening grand mal seizures.
It's vital, then, that you partner with a professional Bellevue alcohol detox program to help manage these potentially fatal symptoms.
If, however, you have chosen to detox on your own and have begun experiencing symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal, you should contact emergency services immediately.
However, we are proud to work with some of the best alcohol detox clinics in King County and beyond. We work with clinics that utilize the most modern, holistic methods for alcohol detox, and we make sure to incorporate detox into our treatment plan.
To learn more about how Northpoint Evergreen Bellevue can help you with your addiction, check out our treatment plan and philosophy. And if you'd like to discuss your options in more detail, please contact us.
Our goal is to help you successfully stop using alcohol without worrying about relapsing. And we want to get you the exact treatment you need for your own personal recovery journey. It doesn't matter if we're the ones to help you beat addiction. We just care that you beat it. We're here to help if we can.