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Alcoholics may spend a few days in medical detoxification, also know as "drying out." Alcohol's addictive nature means that there are significant physical effects of withdrawal. The purpose of alcohol detox centers is to help the patient manage those effects under medical supervision while spending time in an alcohol-free environment.
Reactions to alcohol withdrawal can include tremors, headaches, vomiting, and insomnia. More serious problems include the possibility of seizures and hyperactivity. Depending on the severity of the case, doctors may treat the detox patient with anticonvulsants or other medication to help manage these symptoms. In addition, a good detox facility provides nutritious food to help the body repair itself.
The period of withdrawal often is emotionally as well as physically difficult. Many alcoholics fail in their attempts to quit on their own because these symptoms work to weaken their resolve. Medically supervised detox is also necessary when the alcoholic has certain conditions, including high blood pressure, malnutritionl, or a history of seizures.
Detox may save lives, but it does not help patients live their lives. Only when the patient is alcohol-free can the process of treatment and recovery begin.