Alcohol-Related Issues and a Brief Overview of the Detox Process

While there are a variety of legal and illicit substances that cause issues for people throughout the United States, alcohol is considered to be the most significant drug problem. When considering adults 18 years and older, there are almost 13.8 million that have problems with alcohol. This includes 8.1 million adults with alcoholism.

Many people have one or more close relatives with drinking problems, and this amounts to roughly 53% of American adults. Recent figures also show that over ten percent of the children in this country have a parent within the home that experiences problems with alcohol. While adults 65 and older are the least likely to experience alcohol-related problems, adults between the ages of 18 to 29 are the most vulnerable population. College students in particular are susceptible, and approximately 20% have an alcohol use disorder.

A large percentage of emergency room visits are attributed to drug abuse. On a daily basis, this amounts to 5,000 of these hospital visits. When individuals sustained injuries that required them to visit the emergency room, it was determined that alcohol was a contributing factor:

  • Tested positive for alcohol: 47% of the patients
  • Intoxicated: 35% of the patients
  • Signs of chronic alcoholism: 75% of the patients

While some individuals may acknowledge they have an issue and seek treatment, others may require an intervention. Once they’ve developed this condition, however, it usually takes alcohol-addicted patients eight years to seek or otherwise receive treatment. While a large percentage of individuals don’t experience severe withdrawal symptoms, ten percent to 20% will require monitoring and medication to assist them with the withdrawal and detox process.

One of the more serious issues that can develop is delirium tremens. When someone develops this condition, they will experience sudden and severe mental and/or nervous system changes which can be life-threatening. This condition tends to develop between 48 to 96 hours after someone has had their last drink. It’s important to note that this condition can also occur up to ten days after someone has stopped drinking.

When a person experiences acute withdrawal symptoms, these can last for three to five days. After this, there is another withdrawal phase which is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. This condition can continue for a year or even longer.

Once a person suffering with alcohol addiction seeks help, it’s important to note that they need to go through the detox process before they can begin their rehabilitation. A detox doctor can monitor the detox process and make recommendations for local rehabilitation programs. Since having a support system is essential to the rehabilitation process, a person’s physician may also recommend that they obtain an emotional support animal.

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