Alcohol Addiction: Get Away in Two Phases

If the alcohol is lacking, the body goes full throttle: During the detoxification withdrawal, symptoms can occur, which are even life-threatening. Thereafter, withdrawal and weaning help to overcome alcoholism.

The way out of alcohol dependence is a steep staircase with many steps. Although some alcoholics manage to extricate themselves from dependence without outside help, for some, it would not only be too hard but even dangerous, to quit drinking.

Therefore, the first step should always be a visit to the family doctor, the Serenity Recovery Center recommends. This makes the diagnosis with the help of specific questions about the drinking behavior and determines the liver values. Together with the doctor, the alcoholic will then decide whether it is necessary to visit a counseling center or to be admitted to a withdrawal clinic. Getting away from alcohol happens in three phases.


At the beginning is the physical detoxification. This takes three to five days and can be performed, inpatient or outpatient. During this time, the alcohol is omitted, which can sometimes lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. These include, for example, sweating, trembling or irritability, but in some cases, the withdrawal symptoms can even be life-threatening.

Karl Mann, medical director of the Department of Addictive Behavior and Addiction Medicine at the Central Institute for Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim, explains: “Alcohol has a sedative effect, especially in higher dosages, which is like a constant pressure on the brake pedal during chronic consumption automobile.” If the alcohol stops suddenly, the brake is missing, and the body is in full throttle.

With the help of medications, physicians can facilitate this conversion of the body to a life without alcohol. These include antidepressants and tranquilizers of the benzodiazepine type. In the case of an outpatient detox, the patient is usually on sick leave for about a week.


The physical detoxification is followed by the actual withdrawal therapy, which usually lasts two to three weeks. During this time, the patient participates in individual and group therapy in which conversations attempt to strengthen the desire for abstinence.

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