Long Term Alcohol Treatment
The severity of alcohol use disorders and dependence is often minimized due to the legality of the substance itself. It’s important to realize that the health impacts of alcohol use and alcohol withdrawal have the potential to cause a catastrophic decline in clients’ overall health and well-being. Alcohol addiction & treatment requires the same level of clinical and medical monitoring than that of illicit drugs.
Alcohol addiction is a serious and often life-threatening condition that requires a specialized medical and nursing team to provide appropriate intervention. The high risk nature of alcohol withdrawal syndrome makes for treatment done on an inpatient basis to be most appropriate. Alcohol withdrawal seizures, DT’s (delirium tremens) and blackouts are all life-threatening symptoms directly attributed to the immediate cessation of use. An alcohol rehab center is the safest place to break the physical dependence to alcohol.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol has what’s referred to as a ‘depressive’ effect on the body, slowing down brain function and changing the way nerves communicate with each other. Hand tremors, nausea, GI upset, vomiting, sweating, anxiety, headache and insomnia are all common symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal is a byproduct of the central nervous system having adjusted to the chemical being consistently present in the body and then reacting once removed. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin just a few hours after the time of the last drink.
Inpatient alcohol rehab centers are best equipped to provide a safe medical detox as it allows for many safety measures to be in place. Alcohol addiction treatment is most appropriately done in a setting where clients can be monitored 24 hours a day by a medical & nursing team, in addition to clinical support from licensed therapists.
What Alcohol Withdrawal Management Looks Like
During the detox phase at an alcohol treatment facility, clients’ vital signs should be monitored at a minimum of every four hours. An elevation in blood pressure during alcohol withdrawal is common, even for clients that do not suffer from chronic hypertension. In some cases, clients may experience orthostatic hypotension (also known as postural hypotension) requiring vital signs to be checked both while sitting and standing to watch for sudden drops in blood pressure. If a client is ‘orthostatic,’ fall precautions (1 to 1 monitoring while ambulating) should be maintained as a means to monitor for lightheadedness and dizziness.
Damage or abnormalities to liver functions is often a byproduct of long term use, further requiring the expertise of alcohol treatment centers. Inpatient alcohol treatment centers have the ability to perform a full blood workup onsite, allowing for the results to be interpreted and treated by the attending physician. Even before a formal diagnosis of cirrhosis of the liver, there are a number of indicators shown in lab results that need intervention or a change in a course of treatment. The sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic class of drugs are usually prescribed in tapering doses to aide in alcohol withdrawal, however adjustments in medication regimen may be called for, depending on the outcome of clients’ blood draw.
The Importance of an Alcohol Detox Program
Another severe and acute impairment to liver functions that must be addressed is an elevation in blood ammonia levels. This type of impairment can cause a buildup of fluid around the stomach, mental confusion, jaundice causing the skin and eyes to become yellowish in color, as well as being at risk of internal bleeding. If left untreated, this impairment to the liver can cause a swift decline in a client’s clinical presentation, requiring a higher level of care. It is necessary that alcohol addiction and withdrawal be treated at a licensed and accredited inpatient facility.
For diabetics, alcohol can interfere with the positive effects of oral medications and insulin, placing those with comorbid medical concerns at higher risk during detox and treatment. Alcohol use has a direct effect on blood sugar levels further complicating the treatment of alcohol addiction.
The ability to closely monitor clients’ blood pressure, temperature and pulse, implement fall precautions, create safety plans for those who are emotionally distraught, monitoring of medical conditions and seizure activity make long term alcohol treatment centers to safest place for clients to begin their journey of recovery. If you or a loved one are in need of help, call us today for help with placement into an alcohol rehab center.