Why is detoxing from alcohol so dangerous?

With April being Alcohol Awareness Month, it’s important to know the dangers of detoxing from alcohol for those who have been drinking heavily for years, months and even weeks.

“Obviously we want people who have problems with drinking alcohol to stop, but they need to do so under medical supervision,” said Fairbanks Medical Director Darrin Mangiacarne, DO, MPH, CPE.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur as early as a couple hours after the last drink and persist for a week. Early warning signs include anxiety, sweating and hand tremors. Later patients can have seizures and delirium tremens (DTs) – characterized by confusion, rapid heartbeat and fever.

“If you’ve been drinking long enough, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening,” Mangiacarne said.

In fact, detoxing from alcohol is more dangerous than stopping the use of opioids like heroin.

“The average person detoxing from heroin may feel like they’re dying, but their lives are not in jeopardy,” Mangiacarne said. “The same person detoxing from alcohol may feel OK – and may not have any symptoms initially – but a couple days later may get really sick and could die.”

That’s why insurance routinely covers alcohol detox, more so than from opiates.

Alcohol remains the most abused drug in the United States behind tobacco – more than opiates, marijuana and cocaine combined. The average male should only consume up to two drinks daily. For the average female it’s one. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines binge drinking as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women on the same occasion.

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, Fairbanks can help. We have over 70 years of experience in helping people regain control of their lives from alcohol abuse. Call 317-572-9396 to schedule an appointment.