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Alcohol Detox

 

The Alcohol Detox Process

An addiction to alcohol can be one of the most daunting things to overcome in life. However, the first step in breaking out of any addiction cycle is to first admit that there is a problem. Lying to yourself won’t do you any good and it will only prolong the issue, resulting in symptoms that can be challenging to live with. One of the best ways to deal with an addiction is to visit a treatment centre that is equipped with understanding staff and facilities that can help you conquer your alcohol addiction by putting you on a the right alcohol detox program.

alcohol-detox-400x266 Alcohol Detox

What is Alcohol Detox?

The word detox is often mislabelled as a full treatment to help with alcohol addiction. Detox is actually a cleansing step that helps you get rid of your dependency on alcohol. This shouldn’t be confused with completely getting rid of the addiction. If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly in an attempt to quit your alcohol addiction, the symptoms of alcohol dependence will start to sink in around an hour after your last drink.

During detox, the alcohol is completely flushed from your system, meaning that it will likely trigger withdrawal symptoms that can last a fairly long time if they aren’t dealt with completely.

 

Do I Need an Alcohol Detox?

One of the easiest ways to tell if you need an alcohol detox is to see how long you can last without drinking. If you don’t “feel right” without drinking a bit of alcohol then you may have developed a dependency on it. People often think that breaking a drinking addiction is all about willpower, but the reality is that there are chemical changes in your body that have adapted to the constant intake of alcohol.

As a result, alcohol dependency is a real issue that isn’t just about willpower. Your body will crave alcohol if you’ve gotten used to it. In fact, going cold turkey and suffering from withdrawal symptoms can actually be incredibly dangerous and put your life at risk.

 

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is the term used to describe the symptoms experienced when a heavy drinker suddenly stops or reduces their intake of alcohol. It’s caused by the alcohol in your system changing your central nervous system to account for the extra alcohol intake. Your body works harder in order to keep your body functioning normally when it detects a heavy amount of alcohol. If your body gets used to this sensation, then your brain will continue to operate as if there’s alcohol in your system even when you don’t drink as much.

This eventually creates a dependence on alcohol. If your body doesn’t receive any alcohol, then you can experience withdrawal symptoms.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Symptoms can be mild or severe depending on long you were exposed to heavy alcohol intake. In most cases, the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are as follows:

  • Feeling of anxiety
  • Hand tremors
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Frequent nightmares
  • High blood pressure

 

These are considered mild symptoms that will likely appear a few hours after your last drink. If you only experience these symptoms then your body is likely in a state where quick recovery is possible. However, there are also severe symptoms that you might experience if you’ve been a heavy drinker for a long time. This includes:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DT)

If you experience any of these symptoms after stopping or reducing your alcohol consumption, it’s important to contact help as soon as possible.

 

What is Delirium Tremens?

Often referred to as DT, delirium tremens is a severe form of confusion that is often caused by alcohol withdrawal. It’s a rare condition that only affects around 5% of people that suffer from the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and often starts around two to three days after your last drink. This is one of the most dangerous conditions to experience once you go cold turkey, hence the importance of seeking advice before you decide to try and quit drinking. Here are some of the common symptoms of DT:

  • Intense body tremors
  • Vivid hallucinations
  • Rapid mood changes
  • A feeling of impending doom
  • Sudden severe confusion
  • Deep sleeps that last over 18 hours

If you experience these symptoms after cutting your alcohol consumption for two to three days, seek medical attention immediately

 

What Does Alcohol Detox Involve?

Detox programs are fairly straightforward. It often involves an intake exam so that your doctor or detox team can examine the current state of your body to see what kind of support is required. This may include taking a blood sample and discussions about your drinking so that the team can get a better understanding of your situation.

Next, you’ll often receive support for your alcohol detox. This includes specialised medicine to help cope with the withdrawal symptoms and other health conditions that may be detected by the intake exam. Your detox team will primarily focus on trying to handle the mental and physical issues associated with detox withdrawal, and you may have to get your blood pressure and heart rate checked on a regular basis to anticipate withdrawal symptoms and deal with them appropriately.

Finally, detox programs will ultimately help you break your addiction by examining the reasons why you drink, how to cope with your issues and also how to avoid relapse in the future. There are other more detailed aspects of an alcohol detox but they will depend on the type of treatment that you pick, so if you need more information, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and contact us for more advice.

 

Will Alcohol Detox Help Me Break My Addiction?

Alcohol detox will be the first step to helping you break your addiction. Alcohol addictions often start due to complicated problems in one’s life which pushes them to drink alcohol as a mental refuge. Identifying and admitting these problems is often the second step after detoxing your body so that you can face the problems in your life that have caused you to fall into addiction in the first place.

Unfortunately, you may find that relapsing into your alcohol addiction is easy even after a successful detox. This is why it’s important to stay in touch with people that are ready and willing to encourage you to continue your sobriety. Feel free to give us a call if you’d like some advice on how you can stay off alcohol after a successful detox program.

 

What Alcohol Detox Treatments Are Available?

There are often two types of detox treatments; outpatient and inpatient.

The first is outpatient treatment. This usually involves day treatments mixed with medication to provide relief for your withdrawal symptoms. Outpatients detox programs are recommended for those with light to mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This is best if you only have a slight addiction and are healthy both mentally and physically and your home environment is safe enough to help you break your addiction.

Inpatients, on the other hand, usually involve staying at a hospital, clinic or rehab centre. You’ll live at the location for several weeks or months and will receive help at all times to help you through your addiction. This is preferred if home factors are affecting your alcohol addiction or if your withdrawal symptoms are proving to be difficult to manage or handle at home. Inpatient treatments are often more effective because you will be monitored for most of the day and you will have access to more potent medication that won’t be available if you try to self-detox.

 

How Long Will It Take to Perform an Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox starts within hours of your last drink. However, without professional assistance, it can be easy to relapse. The duration of a full program will depend on how severe your withdrawal symptoms are. Sometimes it takes under a week for your body to be clear of alcohol but it can also take several weeks or even months before your withdrawal symptoms start to disappear. Factors that could affect your alcohol detox timeline include:

  • The level of your alcohol consumption
  • How long you have been drinking
  • How often you drink
  • Other substances taken with the alcohol
  • Your weight and age
  • Mental health concerns such as depression

It’s important to remember that alcohol detox is just the first step to breaking your alcohol addiction and it can take several weeks and months or multiple tries in order to fully rid yourself of alcohol addiction. It can be a long process, but there is always support available.

 

Where Can I Go for More Help?

There’s plenty of help available to help you beat your alcohol addiction. If you feel that you or a loved one needs treatment for alcohol addiction, then contact us on 0203 955 7700 for advice on how you can combat it. Calls are completely free and you’ll be put through to a friendly non-judgemental representative that you can speak to anonymously for help regarding your alcohol addiction situation.

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.