Sometimes I can go several months between seeing a patient because he or she is on another provider’s schedule. It’s one of the nice things about our office – that all of the providers can get to know each other’s patients.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of following up with two wonderful men who both completed alcohol detoxes at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine just over a year ago.

I had seen both of them in the first few months in their early periods of recovery, and they were both doing what they were "supposed to be doing," and getting along okay. Physically, they were both feeling better, although Kyle in his early 40’s found that he had gained quite a bit of weight, particularly going after sugary foods and carbs.

He was a bit anxious as he still had some court issues ahead, including weekend jail time. And Kyle is a respected, oxford-shirt wearing professional. He had never experienced the inside of a jail – until that pesky DUI. Needless to say, he was highly motivated to check off anything on the list that might reveal to the judge what an upstanding citizen he was. He was seeing a counselor and attending an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), volunteering at a homeless shelter, and he was coming to our office monthly for Vivitrol® injections – a long-acting form of naltrexone.

He has now reached a year of sobriety and while many of the activities he was doing after his DUI were more fear-inspired, it was amazing to hear him describe the state of his current life.

He is sleeping 8-9 sound hours a night. He has been promoted at his job and reports that the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), originally "used" on him by his counselor, is something that he now uses to help the co-workers he manages to solve their work-related issues. He has lost over 30 pounds and is a regular at the gym.

He has returned to playing his saxophone, long discarded and languishing in the attic. Perhaps most importantly, his relationship with his wife has never been better. He is happy.

What to Expect in an Alcohol Detox?

For each patient different needs are met when it comes to treating any alcohol use disorder (AUD). Depending on what one's pattern of alcohol is like and their symptoms will almost always indicate what type of care one would need in a program. While many tend to think that detoxification is the main area of treatment, this is only the first step in getting to sobriety.

With an Alcohol Detox, this can easily manage the withdrawal symptoms and treat potentially deadly complications. In order to avoid any serious health risks like heart disease, stroke, cancer, or dementia (which all stem from alcohol abuse) a detox can be the first phase of treatment. Aside from your alcohol detox there are many continued steps such as support groups, therapies, and individual counseling; in order to help ensure that you do not relapse or fall back into a heavy drinking regimen. For those individuals who have specific severe drinking problems, they may be in the detox recovery stage for quite longer before getting into counseling.


Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Patients can experience withdrawal symptoms during any alcohol detox and they are common. While these symptoms can be mild for some, others may experience more severe indicators.

Typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Unstable blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Unlike Kyle's experience after alcohol detox, another patient, Carl, had a different outlook in his journey to recovery. Exceeding expectations of his family and friends; while often surprising our staff at the Coleman Institute, this is Carl's story.

    Carl is about fourteen months into recovery. Carl is a retired professional, dare I say, a former big shot with lots of connections and experience. His drinking really accelerated when he retired and he was determined that his retirement years were going to be spent enjoying his wife, his children, and his grandchildren. That’s when he came to the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine for alcohol detox.

    Carl is quiet. He is often looking down during conversations, and what I quickly learned is that he is always deeply listening. He listens, he processes, and maybe he will speak. If he chooses to speak, it’s measured and relevant, perhaps bordering on the profound. I am reminded of the quote attributed to Gandhi: “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

    That would be Carl, improving upon the silence.

    Carl, too, has done his "homework." He goes to one-on-one counseling, as well as group meetings weekly. His counselor has come to count on him as a leader in the group sessions, enough so that recently when the counselor couldn’t be present, he asked Carl to take over the group session!

    Carl was open to recovery meetings early on, even though aspects of the meetings were not necessarily aligned with every one of his beliefs. He continues to attend both AA, NA, and Smart Recovery meetings, remaining open to any ideas or ways of being that will enhance his recovery. He particularly enjoys Smart Recovery meetings and is now doing the facilitator training program. It is on his list to explore a Refuge Recovery meeting, a Buddhist approach to recovery from addiction.

    Why Choose an Alcohol Detox?

    It may be hard and even difficult at times to realize when casual drinking has become a crossover to true abuse or addiction. When it comes to better understanding alcohol intake or alcohol use disorder, there are many resources that can provide guidance in how to identify if you may have AUD.

    Here are a few common patters that signify that Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) may be prevalent:

  • Failed to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Continued to drink alcohol in situations that were potentially hazardous
  • Gained tolerance to alcohol by needing more each day and noticing it does not affect you
  • Became less involved in work or social related activities because of alcohol use
  • Have cravings, or a strong desire to taste alcohol
  • Have tried to cut down your alcohol intake, without success
  • Have consumed alcohol in large amounts over extended periods of time
  • If you are struggling with alcoholism, then an alcohol detox is right for you. With serous withdrawal symptoms ranging from uncomfortable to potentially fatal - we can take these risks seriously and treat your addiction safely. At the Coleman institute, we have created a safe method to restore brain and body function in an outpatient setting with little disruption to your day-to-day activities.

    Once your body is free of alcohol, we will also be there to guide you every step of the way including individual counseling, a 12-step program, or assisted Naltrexone Therapy to reduce cravings.

    If you or a loved one are contemplating a life free from alcohol or opioids, please give us a call and let us help you get started safely.

    If you or a loved one are contemplating a life free from alcohol or opioids, please give us a call or request a callback and let us help you get started safely.


    Joan R. Shepherd, FNP