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Should You Stop Drinking Before Alcohol Rehab?

Author: Justin Mckibben

If you have made the decision to go to alcohol rehab, it is the best step in the right direction to change your life. Sometimes you may have a few days or maybe even a week to kill before actually leave to begin treatment. Either you made a conscious choice to buy yourself some time, or due to availability at the alcohol rehab center you’ve chosen, you may be facing the question of how you should be spending the next few days.

Personally I know I had almost a week before treatment and I was unsure how to get through those next few days.  If you were to ask most alcoholics, typically we would say the same thing. We most likely plan to drink as much as we possibly can while we have the chance, because once we head off to treatment we may never drink again, or at least we hope so. But what is the safest choice? Some people assume, or their families will insist that they should try and quit drinking altogether before treatment. The real question is, should you stop drinking before alcohol rehab?

Should You Stop Drinking Before Alcohol Rehab: The Binge

Some people want to binge drink before alcohol rehab. When asked by a loved one ‘should you stop drinking before alcohol rehab?’ they usually answer with a resounding ‘NO!’ It may be out of fear, but sometimes it is also because we alcoholics typically count on our last Hoo-rah to hold us over for the future. The binge-drinking logic is very flawed, but it is a very real concept.

There are several really dangerous risks that you take on when decide the best way to spend your wait before rehab is to binge drink. Before heading to treatment a lot of people want to drink as much as possible, but the more serious risks include:

  • Drunk Driving
  • Accidents due to negligence under the influence
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Overdose when mixing alcohol with other drugs
  • Violence and assault

When an alcoholic decides to spend days before going to alcohol rehab binge drinking, they are probably going to feel even worse when you first arrive in detox and have to go without alcohol abruptly. The first couple of days will already be physically difficult for the alcoholic who has a real issue with physical dependence and withdrawals.  By binge drinking with the intent to get as much as you can before you stop, you are putting yourself in a worse position.

Should You Stop Drinking Before Alcohol Rehab: The Risks of Stopping

On the flip-side to the dangers of binge drinking, there are also some serious risks of going cold-turkey. When you ask yourself should you stop drinking before alcohol rehab, remember that as crucial it is to your recovery that you don’t continue to drink this way, you do not want to get ahead of yourself and do it alone.

For those who experience withdrawal symptoms like serious tremors or even seizures when they try to stop drinking abruptly, it definitely is NOT recommended to try to quit cold turkey unless you have medical professionals there to supervise and monitor your physical health. The withdrawal symptoms can be managed and maintanence medication is available in an alcohol detox facility. You will be much more comfortable in the alcohol detox portion of your rehab program once you can have immediate access to medications designed to treat the more damaging symptoms, reduce cravings, and help you more quickly, safely and effectively assist the alcohol in leaving from your system.

Even if you don’t typically experience physical withdrawal symptoms beyond a serious hangover when you stop drinking immediately, it’s likely that you will still feel considerably ill when you quit cold-turkey, and because of that you may even crave alcohol more. Trying to do this without the help of doctors and counselors can weaken your resolve to go to treatment and take away your chance at getting better and starting a new life for yourself in recovery.

Should You Stop Drinking Before Alcohol Rehab: Be Open and Honest

Some people even think when asked ‘should you stop drinking before alcohol rehab’ that they should not drink at all because the rehab staff may feel they are not taking the situation seriously, but this could not be further from the truth. Some people will even with-hold the information about how much they drink, or how recently because of this fear. But in this case being honest and open is much safer.

When the staff at an alcohol rehab ask about your recent drinking, it is not to see how ‘serious’ you take your recovery, it is to properly assess your physical state and safely medicate your withdrawal symptoms. The initial intake process is designed to help the nursing staff to outline the safest and most effective form of treatment for you during the detoxification process, so being open and honest about how much you were drinking leading up to arriving at rehab is important, it does not mean you are expected to detox yourself before you get to rehab.

That being said, try to take it easy on your body. Drink minimally to avoid making yourself feel worse, but not so little that you begin to go through withdrawal symptoms without the assistance of a medical detox. Get lots of rest, drink lots of water, and spend as much time with supportive family and friends as possible. Do everything in your power to safely take the first few steps on the journey to an amazing future.

Alcoholism is a dangerous and deadly disease and the physical effects on the drinker are treacherous and may be quite terrifying, so waiting to get to alcohol rehab before stopping drinking can actually help you avoid the more painful parts of recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

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