The Benefits and Risks of a Medical Detox for Alcohol Addiction

Medical detox for alcohol can help you recover from alcohol addiction safely. Quitting alcohol suddenly can be harmful. Learn more here.


A concern people often face when considering medical detox for alcohol addiction is the fear of withdrawal. If you or a loved one are a long-term drinker, you will likely experience physical and emotional symptoms when you quit. Depending on the severity of your addiction, your symptoms may range from mild to severe.

For some, the worry about what detox and withdrawal will be like is enough to affect their desire to seek treatment help. At a medical detox for alcohol addiction in the Los Angeles area, taking your first steps toward sobriety in a safe and comfortable setting is possible.

Medical Detox for Alcohol

When is Medical Detox Necessary?

Although some can quit drinking without support from a medical detox for alcohol program, it may be unsafe. Withdrawal symptoms, generally mild, can occur regardless of substance use. Certain drugs, including alcohol, can lead to severe and sometimes overwhelming withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them.

Co-occurring Disorders

Another reason to choose medical detox for alcohol at a supervised program like Essence Healthcare is if you have a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder (sometimes called a dual diagnosis) occurs when someone has an alcohol use disorder and experiences symptoms of a mental health condition. Co-occurring disorders are more common than many realize. Recent data from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health suggest at least 9.2 million adults in the US have a co-occurring disorder.1

When you have a co-occurring condition, choosing a treatment program that addresses both conditions as part of a single treatment program is essential. The side effects of withdrawal can mirror or worsen the symptoms of many mental health conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to address both during treatment.

Why is Medical Detox Recommended?

Alcohol addiction changes how your brain and body function. Long-term, hefty, frequent drinking impacts how your brain releases neurotransmitters that control specific emotions, including pleasure, happiness, relaxation, and joy.

When you drink, the levels of these neurotransmitters escalate far higher than they would under “normal” circumstances. When you stop drinking, your body (at least for a time) cannot release enough neurotransmitters to achieve the same feelings acquired by drinking, leading to cravings for alcohol.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

In addition to changes in your emotional state, quitting drinking can lead to several physical symptoms. These physical symptoms, including sweating, body aches and pains, headaches, stomach problems, difficulties with sleep, make it challenging to stay on the path to sobriety without support and help.

In some cases, withdrawal symptoms become too difficult to manage. When this happens, you may start drinking again. Returning to substance use this way can worsen rather than improve withdrawal symptoms. At a medical detox for alcohol, providers can help you manage your symptoms and wean off alcohol, allowing you to achieve sobriety.

At Home Detox vs. Medical Detox: What’s the Difference?

The challenges people face when they enter medical detox for alcohol programs can vary from person to person. When you or a loved one are ready to quit alcohol, it is important to do so in the safest and most supported way possible. It is not uncommon to experience many different withdrawal symptoms throughout the course of detox. Sometimes, they may be mild and. managed with little or no medical intervention. But in other cases, alcohol detox symptoms can be severe, overwhelming, and even fatal.

What Are the Risks of Alcohol Detox?

Leaving your comfort zone to seek help outside the home can seem overwhelming. These difficulties lead some to consider quitting alcohol at home or ‘cold turkey.’ Unfortunately, giving up alcohol is challenging for many reasons. As mentioned before, alcohol detox can cause severe symptoms including:2

  • High fevers, chills, and sweats
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Seizures
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Cardiac and respiratory arrest
  • Delirium tremens (a dangerous withdrawal symptom experienced by 3-5% of patients during detox)

How Can One Mitigate Those Risks?

The risks of alcohol detox can be managed at a medical detox for alcohol treatment center in the Los Angeles area. During medical detox, a team of medical and mental health providers helps you throughout the most challenging days of withdrawal. Medically supported detox programs ensure you cannot manage difficult withdrawal symptoms alone.

At Essence Healthcare’ medical detox for alcohol program, our providers offer 24/7 care and monitoring. Medical detox often uses medications to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Medications can also reduce cravings and other side effects of detox, reducing the risk of relapse.3

benefits of medical detox for alcohol

What Types of Treatments Are Recommended in Detox?

The treatments recommended during detox may vary based on individual factors. When you or a loved one are ready to take the first steps towards freedom from alcohol addiction, treatment at a program offering medical detox for alcohol is the first step. Individually tailored medical detox plans at Essence Healthcare involve a combination of medications and physical and psychological support.

Several medications are used in the treatment setting to manage acute withdrawal symptoms. They include:4

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Barbiturates
  • Beta-blockers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antipsychotics

The effects of each medication can vary. Your treatment team at Essence Healthcare will work with you to evaluate the potential benefits of each medicine before including it as part of your detox treatment plan.

Are There Recommended Treatments Post-Detox?

Once detox is complete, there are longer-term medically assisted treatment (MAT) medications your provider may suggest. These medications, acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram, are recommended after being alcohol-free. These Food and Drug Administration-approved medications help to control cravings and maintain sobriety post-detox.5

In addition to medications for symptom maintenance, behavioral therapies are a crucial component of post-detox treatment. Individual and group therapies help you:

  • Develop and practice healthy coping skills.
  • Understand the root causes of addiction.
  • Engage with peer support groups.
  • Change your behaviors and attitude about alcohol use.

Recovery is Possible at Essence Healthcare

At our Los Angeles area medical detox for alcohol program, a team of caring, compassionate, and experienced medical professionals are here to support and guide you through detox. We understand that each person’s needs as they take their first steps toward sobriety differ. We will work with you or your loved one to develop a treatment program focusing on healing the whole person. Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health are crucial to your recovery.

Reach Out Today

The most successful treatment programs choose therapy models that meet the person’s specific needs as they enter treatment. Let us help you quit alcohol and achieve lasting sobriety. To learn more about alcohol detox in Los Angeles, contact a member of our admissions team at Essence Healthcare today.

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Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.