Text us Call us

What is Alcohol Detox?

Treatment for alcohol addiction begins with a waiting period where every trace of alcohol in the body is processed and eliminated. This period is known as alcohol detox. As alcohol flushes from the body, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, it is important to have medical supervision during alcohol detox. Medical staff ease withdrawal symptoms and provide emergency care if necessary. 

It may take several weeks to completely purge the body of alcohol, but when alcohol detox is over, the patient is primed for lasting care. Patients report reduced cravings and enhanced mental clarity after detox. This prepares patients for further treatment and improves their chances of recovery.

Indiana Center for Recovery knows inpatient detox can be the first and one of the most profound steps in getting your life back. By completing a detox, those struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can continue their recovery journey with individualized therapy, group therapy, and a supportive living environment.

Alcohol Detox

The first step in the treatment for alcohol use disorder is detox. This process involves ridding every trace of alcohol from the patient’s body. It is important that this is done in a controlled setting like a treatment center where there is access to medical care since detox can cause intense, sometimes fatal withdrawal symptoms. Undergoing detox in a professional setting ensures emergency care if needed and can increase the possibility of a successful recovery. Medical professionals can also provide support and medication that can help ease the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to moderate and even life-threatening. Individuals who excessively consume alcohol for a few weeks may experience mild symptoms like excessive sweating or nausea.Those who have a more severe history of alcohol use may have more intense withdrawal symptoms like seizures and vivid hallucinations.

Professionals at a facility like Indiana Center for Recovery will monitor the patient’s progress along the way and address any health concerns during detox. From six to twelve hours in, patients can expect mild symptoms, and while some symptoms may subside, others can progress. More intense symptoms tend to appear about one to three days into detox. Patients will begin to feel stronger and less reliant on alcohol after the initial days of detox. Once the patient is stabilized, they can be transferred to residential or outpatient care to continue treatment.

There are a variety of medications designed to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. These medications must be administered by a medical professional in a monitored environment. For example, Naltrexone reduces cravings by blocking the pleasurable sensation that alcohol brings to the individual.

Acamprosate is a medication that works to help the brain function and reduce the severity of withdrawal. Disulfiram produces unpleasant effects like headaches and nausea when the individual consumes alcohol while drinking on the medication.

Undergoing detox before alcoholism treatment offers an array of benefits like better overall health and improved self-esteem. If you or a loved one is struggling with the effects of an alcohol use disorder, detox is an essential element of recovery. Remember to consult with a medical professional before undergoing this process.

Why Alcohol Detox is Necessary

The idea of quitting alcohol can be overwhelming. There's the stigma attached to seeking help, deadly withdrawal symptoms, and the expectation your entire life will change. Do you really need to detox at an accredited facility if the detox process is natural? Let's explore the circumstances where professional alcohol detox is necessary.

Many don't realize that alcohol creates emotional, mental, and physical dependencies that can't be easily undone. As alcohol addiction becomes more severe, the brain adjusts to the alcohol by relying on alcohol to function. The abrupt cessation of alcohol can cause headaches, fever, nausea, heart issues, and even hallucinations, as the brain is missing the substance it has come to rely on for basic functioning. These effects are collectively known as withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol can create emotional, mental, and physical dependencies.

Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or deadly. It is impossible to know which symptoms you will experience during alcohol withdrawal, so it is vital to have a knowledgeable team supporting your detox. A detox without these professionals could present serious health risks, including death. Refusing detox is also dangerous, as the effects of alcoholism may go untreated. 

If you have developed a tolerance to alcohol, you should undergo a medically supervised detox at an accredited detox facility for your comfort and safety.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol detox can introduce mild, moderate, and life-threatening health risks due to the damage inflicted by abuse of alcohol on the brain and body. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal come from a place of healing. While detox may be uncomfortable in the short term, the long-term effects outweigh the risks.

Those who have been excessively drinking for weeks will have a different experience from someone struggling with alcoholism for years. Still, many of the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol are the same. Mild withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Intense nausea
  • Acute anxiety
  • Prolonged insomnia
  • Recurring headaches

Those with a more severe history of alcohol abuse may experience severe symptoms that can be fatal. Indiana Center for Recovery staffs licensed nurses and physicians to care for and guide our residents in their recovery. Under our expert care, our patients can overcome even the most intense detox symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Total disorientation
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

While uncommon, serious complications can occur during an alcohol detox that demands the experience of trained staff at an equipped facility. While some patients can have mild symptoms initially, the unpredictable nature of alcohol detox means that medical supervision is required. 

The severity and length of symptoms can also interact with other conditions like depression, anxiety, or lung and heart disease. Beyond mere supervision, Indiana Center for Recovery takes a holistic approach to the alcohol detox that ensures the safe rehabilitation of patients. 

Stages of Alcohol Detox

The three stages of alcohol detox

Throughout the stages of alcohol detox, your care team will monitor your progression and make sure any other health concerns are in check as you continue toward a full, happy life of sobriety.

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can appear just two hours after your last drink, meaning that some of the most painful hours are only moments away as the team begins working to prepare the best conditions for recovery. Throughout monitoring, listening, prescribing, and supporting—your team is there to encourage and provide comfort in the hours, days, or weeks ahead.

Six to 12 Hours

The first day of detox brings the initial and usually mild symptoms of alcohol detox. These include headaches, anxiety, nausea, shaking, and irritability. Some of your symptoms may subside here, and others can progress into the further phases of alcohol detox.

One to Three Days

After the first 24 hours of inpatient detox, your symptoms can take a steep turn. You may experience severe leg, arm, and hand tremors in the first three days. This is also where people experience disorientation or, in extreme cases, seizures. It is also common to experience hallucinations, panic attacks, and extreme anxiety. These can not only be upsetting, but they also pose a threat to the individual.

Without the professional help and support of trained medical personnel, many are unable to recover from alcohol addiction on their own. Medically supervised detox prioritizes comfort and safety, offering the best chance of detox success.

Three Days and Beyond

After the initial days of detox, patients start to feel better, stronger, and less reliant on alcohol. Though some symptoms will last for weeks, these symptoms are not life-threatening. Once the patient is stabilized, they can transfer to residential or outpatient treatment to address the root of addiction: the mind.

Medications in Alcohol Recovery

In addition to monitoring and support, alcohol detox specialists at Indiana Center for Recovery can offer medication for managing anxiety, seizures, recurring headaches, and more.

The goal of these medications is to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and make the process as comfortable as possible. Each medication described below must be administered by a professional in a monitored environment to reduce side effects and dangers during detox.


Naltrexone is a medication that reduces the severity of alcohol cravings by blocking the pleasurable sensation that alcohol might bring. Despite its effectiveness, naltrexone requires a supervised waiting period since someone taking it to fight alcohol cravings might begin withdrawal. Still, it's a course of action that your care team could take if relapse seems likely and you've progressed through days of rehabilitation already.


The brain does not simply bounce back into the state it was in before years of heavy drinking set in and oppressed it. Drugs like acamprosate can be prescribed to help the brain function and reduce the lasting effects of alcohol detox. It can, for example, lessen withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and anxiety while reducing compulsive cravings.


Alcohol consumption is as much chemical as it is behavioral or environmental. Instead of fighting these reactions, disulfiram produces its own harsh and unpleasant effects. Drinking while taking disulfiram results in headaches, nausea, weakness, and more to deter the patient from taking that next drink.

This treatment approach is not favored by all doctors; however, some patients claim these adverse effects helped them the most. Treatment professionals consider the patient's needs and input as they pursue sober living step by step. Indiana Center for Recovery has always met the patients where they are.

Benefits of Alcohol Detox

Those with severe alcoholism and those who have been unsuccessful at kicking their habit can find alcohol detox at an established facility beneficial for many reasons. Consider why people choose alcohol detox for themselves and their loved ones.

Brain Benefits

Alcohol is anti-brain. It slows the communication pathways, contributing to short- and long-term damage. Breathing, speaking, thinking, and moving are affected, while alcohol damages brain tissue and the limbic system. The result of these assaults is a life that seems bland, colorless, painful, unrelenting, and not enough.

To decide to quit alcohol is to decide that life can be better. Without alcohol, patients experience a lift from the old state of mind:

  • Eased depression
  • Improved mood
  • Sharper recall
  • Higher cognitive function
  • Better sleep
  • Mental freedom

Many people quit drinking because they are no longer satisfied with the constant brain fog and confusion alcohol provides. 

Full-Body Boost

Alcohol is also anti-body. It weakens your immune system, which depletes your ability to fight infection, disease, or sickness. With that, alcohol famously breaks down your liver, accumulating toxins and fat that lead to an early death. Heavy drinking can strain your heart, causing strokes, arrhythmia, and hypertension. If that weren't enough, alcohol cuts off your natural defenses by harming the antibodies in your blood that help you stay healthy.

After alcohol detox, patients may not get a clean bill of health, but they do enjoy noticeable and speedy improvements to their health, such as the following:

  • Better immune response
  • Return to proper liver function
  • Stronger heart muscles
  • Better digestion
  • Decreased cancer risk

It may feel as if a weight has lifted after detox as your body learns to function again without alcohol holding you back.

Better Self-Esteem

Alcohol is anti-you. Just as alcohol cuts your brain and body off from proper functioning, alcohol twists relationships, beliefs, perspectives, and connections. It creates separateness, isolation, and despair. Alcohol transforms what was once a life filled with excitement and possibility into one that only knows the bottle. 

Facilities like Indiana Center for Recovery fight alcohol's isolating effects through safe, supported detox. When clients decide to find freedom through medically supervised alcohol detox, they discover that these connections improve, reform, and grow:

  • Better communication skills
  • Happier relationships
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Reduced anxiety

Continuing treatment at Indiana Center for Recovery can enhance self-esteem and treat the mental health causes of alcoholism.

Choosing Detox is Choosing Recovery

Enrolling in alcohol detox at Indiana Center for Recovery is the first step in a lifelong recovery journey. Ultimately, you must decide if a safe, medically supervised alcohol detox is right for you and your journey. When you're ready to heal, Indiana Center for Recovery will be here. 

Find Alcohol Detox in Indiana

Indiana Center for Recovery is a top alcohol detox and rehabilitation facility, creating strength and resilience within each resident. Knowing that detox is a cornerstone in recovery, we strive for a safe, secure, and individually structured detox experience.

Our team of physicians, nurses, counselors, and specialists coordinate detox and rehabilitation through treatment teams that help people overcome addiction with great success. Together, we create a safe space to begin your journey without judgment or distress.

See what your life could be like without alcohol and START RECOVERY.