If I Have Been Detoxing from Alcohol, Does That Make Me an Alcoholic?

It’s estimated that thirty percent of people in the US have experienced alcoholism or some form of alcohol dependency. Studies show that fewer and fewer of these people have been reaching out for treatment. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re an alcoholic, there are some methods you can use to tell.

Whether or not you think you’re an alcoholic, if you believe you need help to stop drinking, the best thing you can do is contact a treatment center. Treatment centers can ensure a safe, medically supervised detox. Alcohol detox can be dangerous when it’s undergone without medical supervision.

But if you do detox from alcohol, does that automatically mean you’re an alcoholic?

This is a complicated question that doesn’t always have a straight answer. Instead it can be broken down into manageable pieces.

Drinking to Unwind vs. Drinking Problem

Studies show that one drink a night doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. In fact, most studies draw no correlation between a nightly drink and negative health impacts or declines into alcoholism. That said, there are a few stipulations:

  • The drink must contain 0.6 fluid ounces or less of alcohol
  • Your total weekly intake must be less than 14 drinks

If your alcohol intake is higher than these amounts, you increase your risk for physical dependency. Drinking more than these amounts on a regular basis is a budding sign of alcoholism. If you’re having trouble cutting back, you might be more dependent on alcohol than you realize.

Dependence vs. Addiction

Even though dependence and addiction often overlap, they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Almost any substance can create a dependency if it’s part of your daily routine. Removing this substance from your daily routine might disrupt your ability to function in day-to-day life until you get used to its removal. Irritable and antsy feelings aren’t an indicator of full-blown alcoholism by themselves. But if stopping your alcohol use does make you irritable or anxious, there’s a good chance you have a physical dependency on alcohol.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism

The following are warning signs that you may be at risk for alcoholism:

  • You have a family history of alcoholism
  • You consume alcohol extremely quickly
  • You use alcohol to cope with emotion and stressful situations

If you need alcohol to deal with the stress of your day-to-day life, or you’re drinking to forget about your problems, that’s a serious sign that you may need help. Addiction is as much a psychological illness as a physical one, which makes reaching out for treatment twice as imperative. It’s extremely difficult for an alcoholic to get sober and stay sober without a strong support network and coping skills in place.

Ultimately, it may not matter whether you’re a full-blown alcoholic or not. If you have a dependency on alcohol, it’s a good idea to take a look at your life and the changes that you might need to make.

How to Detox Safely

The most important thing to remember when detoxing is that you aren’t alone. There are medical and mental health professionals who can help you. If you aren’t ready to commit to a treatment center yet, at least find a trusted friend or family member who can supervise your detox. The symptoms of detox can pose their own health problems, so you shouldn’t try to detox by yourself.

What Is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the process of cleansing the body of alcohol. Usually detox begins a few hours after the person’s last drink. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms tend to appear at this time. The exact symptoms, along with their severity and length, depend heavily upon the individual.

The Dangerous Side of Detox

Addiction sets in when the body becomes chemically dependent on a substance that’s been put into it. When the body stops receiving this substance, it shocks the brain’s neurotransmitters and the body’s blood levels. Alcohol use represses the brain’s neurotransmitters. Once alcohol use ceases, the glutamate system floods the brain like a dam coming down.

Dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dangerous dehydration levels

If you experience any of these, seek medical help immediately.

Less Dangerous Detox Symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • VomitingEven if they don’t become life threatening, none of these symptoms are easy to cope with. That’s why experts so highly recommend medically supervised detox, regardless of whether an individual is a full-blown alcoholic or not.

How Long Does Detox Last?

The exact length of a detox depends on the individual.

Usually, alcohol withdrawal occurs within eight hours of the last drink. In rare cases, withdrawal might not set in until days later. Usually symptoms peak within 24 to 72 hours, but in rare cases they might continue for weeks.

Several factors play a part in the length of a detox:

  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Length of time the person has been drinking
  • How often the person drinks
  • Nutritional variances
  • Age and weight
  • Co-occurring mental health problems

This is another reason to involve a treatment center – medical professionals will have a realistic idea of what to expect from your detox, and the best ways to help you through it.

What Now?

You’ve been given information about the difference between alcohol dependency and full-blown alcoholism. You know what to expect from your detox, and you know about the dangers involved.

If you’re ready to accept help for your alcohol dependency, or you have questions about treatment, our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 877-978-3125 to take the first step in your treatment today.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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