Alcohol detox medication is given in the first stages of the detoxification process. This is the time when the alcoholic is “weaned” from dependence on alcohol. A chronic alcoholic will almost always experience withdrawal symptoms, and medical treatment can make this time bearable. There is no hope of recovery without passing through the withdrawal phase, but the symptoms can be so uncomfortable that, without medical assistance, many patients would quit and go back to drinking.
The recovering alcoholic is also closely monitored by medical personnel during this time. Each alcoholic has developed his or her own tolerance for alcohol. This can be quite high in some cases, producing severe withdrawal symptoms. Someone who wants to quit drinking may think twice when facing the possibility of strong cravings, body shakes, insomnia, or even convulsions. And that’s where anti-withdrawal, or drug detox medications, come in.
If the alcoholic is also taking prescription medications for other conditions, like liver problems, it is absolutely imperative that the detox process be completed under close medical supervision. Interactions between the medications, along with the body’s reaction to the sudden withdrawal of alcohol, must be closely monitored.
The time required to detoxify the body from alcohol’s effects varies, but generally will be between 3 days and 7 days.
There are several drug detox medications available to help the detox process along
A benzodiazepine-class drug like Klonepin will probably be considered. Benzodiazepines can help reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal, increasing the patient’s chances of making it through this phase.
If it appears there is a chance of seizures during the withdrawal phase, the use of an anticonvulsant medication will probably be evaluated. Some of the more common ones are Buprenophex and valproate.
Medication can also help with the inability to sleep, which is commonly experienced during the detox process. An alcoholic’s body has become used to high levels of alcohol. When this is stopped suddenly, the body reacts. The detox medications can alleviate, but usually do not stop all of the symptoms, and sleeplessness at some level is not uncommon.
Along with the detox medications, the alcoholic is often prescribed a multivitamin supplement. The typical alcoholic has a poor diet. Vitamin B1 is the most common deficiency, and it’s a serious one because it can affect brain functioning.
After the detox process, other medications may be prescribed to help the alcoholic succeed at sobriety. Drugs that reduce cravings or produce a bad reaction to alcohol consumption (nausea and vomiting, for instance) can help the alcoholic work through those inevitable moments of weakness on the road to recovery.
For alcoholics who have taken the huge step of deciding they’ve had enough, detox medication is one more weapon in their arsenal. Alcohol detox medications, in conjunction with medical supervision and a determination to stop drinking, can be a second chance for someone who wants it.