Detox Plus offers a medically assisted alcohol detoxification service throughout the UK.
The only safe and comfortable way to begin addiction recovery is by receiving a medically supervised detoxification.
Detoxification from alcohol can be achieved from your own home or in a rehabilitation centre.
Get in touch with our friendly and compassionate team to begin treatment by calling 02072052734
On this page:
- Alcohol detox explained
- Detox in rehab
- Detox from home
- Alcohol detox treatment
- Alcohol withdrawal effects
- Do I need detox?
- Best nutrition during detox
What is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol detox is the process of removing alcohol from your system and recovering from withdrawal symptoms you experience. This page will explain the different methods of alcohol detox and ways of dealing with withdrawal symptoms.
How to Detox from Alcohol
Alcohol recovery is never a straightforward process. Sometimes, you can feel completely fine, but the next, you’re suffering from a nausea attack followed by extreme dizziness.
You can never truly predict the specific symptoms an individual addicted to alcohol will experience during their detox. Patients receiving detoxification in a safe environment will receive medical treatment support.
Detoxing from alcohol can be achieved in a rehabilitation centre or at home with the help of medical professionals.
Detox in Rehab
In a medical detox unit, you should receive good quality medical advice and psychological support aimed at keeping you sober after completion of the detox. It is often acknowledged to be the first step of recovery.
Withdrawals usually begin 6 to 8 hours after the last drink of alcohol and can last for up to 48 hours, depending on how often and how much a person drinks. Withdrawal medication, vitamins, lots of fluids, rest and a healthy diet are vital for safe withdrawal.
It is always safer to seek help from a professional than attempting to withdraw yourself. Alcohol detox is the beginning of a fresh start to improve your health for a new life without alcohol.
Alcohol Detox at Home
Detoxing from alcohol at home can be a safe and easy option for people in certain circumstances. A private doctor can provide prescriptions for detox medication to manage symptoms, and therapy can be online or locally in-person.
Home detox has several benefits, including allowing you to deal with your commitments, saving money and travelling to a rehab clinic.
What is Alcohol Detox Treatment?
Treatment is the first step towards recovery when a person clears their system of alcohol. It is the body’s way of removing an unwanted substance. When a person living with alcohol addiction stops drinking, they will experience alcohol detox symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes frightening.
Detox can be dangerous to do alone and should be monitored by a professional so that needs such as diet, fluid intake, rest, and medication are supervised.
When a long-term heavy drinker abruptly stops drinking, they may experience symptoms such as delirium tremens (DTs), which include hallucinations, seizures, other psychotic symptoms, and problems with the heart rate and blood pressure. Although some people experience relatively mild withdrawal symptoms, disease processes or events that accompany withdrawal can cause significant illness and sometimes death.
The risk of withdrawal symptoms is high if you:
- Drink 15 units of alcohol per day. This is around half a bottle of spirits, just over a bottle of wine or seven cans of normal-strength beer.
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past when cutting back or stopping alcohol
- Engage in “relief drinking” on waking to relieve shakes or sweats
How to Detox Safely From Alcohol
If you seek professional treatment, you will undergo tests that check your mental and physical health, undergo blood work and answer questions about your physical and psychological health as well as your drinking history.
You will then enter the support phase, where you may be offered alcohol withdrawal medication. The clinic’s medical professionals will provide support for you with alcohol detox symptoms and for any issues that come up during the detox treatment process.
Keep in mind that detox from alcohol can vary in length, depending on the level of your consumption. For some people, the treatment process is reasonably quick. Others may go through a much longer and more unpleasant process.
Safe alcohol withdrawal treatment – What you need to know
The first stage of treatment for alcohol abuse is detox. Simply put, this means both allowing alcohol to leave your body and, at the same time, rebalancing the long-term effects drinking has had on brain chemicals.
Withdrawal is not pleasant, so you must be wholly committed to recovery, or you’ll be susceptible to falling back into alcohol addiction.
Withdrawal Symptoms Treatment
If your dependency is severe, you may need to go to a hospital or clinic to detox. This is because the withdrawal symptoms will also be severe and are likely to need specialist treatment.
Fixed schedule treatment
Benzodiazepines – drugs to calm anxiety and agitation – are given at fixed intervals even if symptoms are absent. A fixed-dose schedule strategy is most helpful in preventing withdrawal in patients who are at risk but with no or mild symptoms.
This is the most used approach, as it can be fine-tuned, as symptoms can be assessed:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Bursts of sweating
- Abnormal experiences with hearing
- Abnormal experiences with vision
- Abnormal experiences with touch
Symptom-triggered treatment has an advantage over fixed-dose treatment in needing lower total doses of benzodiazepine and shorter periods of hospitalisation.
Medications for treatment
Alcohol detox medication is most frequently used in moderate to severe alcohol withdrawals. This includes both medicines to reduce the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and medication to prevent relapse of alcohol addiction.
Effects of alcohol withdrawal
Without treatment, you might be surprised by how fast alcohol detox symptoms can hit you. Here’s a timeline of how long after your last drink it typically takes to start feeling the effects of the alcohol withdrawal process:
6 -12 hours after
12 – 24 hours after
- Hand tremors
48 hours after
- High blood pressure
- Excessive sweating
- Visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations
Delerium Tremens & Alcohol Detox
DTs occur in around 1 in 20 people who experience withdrawal symptoms in which the following occur:
- Hallucinations in vision, hearing and touch
- Disorientation in time and place
- Rapid heartbeat and raised blood pressure
- Raised body temperature
- Severe agitation and restlessness
DTs usually start between 48 and 96 hours after the last drink and last between 1 and 5 days. If left untreated, as many as 8 in every 10 people can die during DTs – reduced to fewer than 1 in 10 if treated early.
There are several reasons for the high death rate in untreated DTs, which include:
- Heart beating too fast, trying to keep up with the amount of oxygen required to deliver oxygen to major organs
- Slowed breathing to compensate for changes in acidity in the blood
- Changes in the level of salts and minerals in the bloodstream, as well as dehydration
- Overheating of the body
This is separate from DTs, although abnormal experiences are seen in both. The difference is changes in alertness or orientation do not accompany that alcoholic hallucinosis.
Alcoholic hallucinosis refers to hallucinations that develop within 12 to 24 hours of abstinence and usually improve within 24 to 48 hours. Seeing, hearing and feeling things that others see as part of alcoholic hallucinosis can be distressing for the person experiencing them in that there may be some awareness that they are hallucinating.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
PAWS can persist for a year after alcohol detox has been completed. The main symptoms are:
Anxiety can last for up to 9 months, with anxiety or depression lasting for up to 2 years after alcohol detox.
Even after alcohol detox, there may still be ongoing health problems in the form of physical and mental disorders. The good news is that some of these are reversible and include the following:
- Fatty liver happens when the body cannot store the sugar broken down from alcohol in a readily available form. Instead, sugar is converted into fat and stored in the liver. This is reversible if you continue to remain sober. If not, fatty liver may progress into increased liver thickening. This is called irreversible cirrhosis.
- Alcohol-related brain damage can lead to problems such as Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome and alcohol-related dementia. Wernicke’s is reversible if trained health professionals give a high dose of thiamine. Alcohol addiction often causes damage to nerve cells in the brain – especially those that maintain memory, planning and judgement over finances. If you remain sober after detox, there is a good chance that some of this damage can be reversed.
- High blood pressure – also called hypertension – can lead to stroke and can be prevented through remaining sober. Even if hypertension is present when drinking heavily, it can still be reduced through sobriety.
- Heart disease can lead to cardiac arrest from an irregular heartbeat or from enlarged heart muscle that stops blood from being pumped efficiently.
- Other health problems that can be prevented from maintaining sobriety after alcohol detox include cancer, picking up infections more quickly from a weakened immune response, anaemia and insomnia. Sobriety also reduces the risk of mental disorders such as anxiety or depression.
Do I need a Medical Detox?
More specialised alcohol detox may be required for alcohol addiction if the following are present:
- Intoxication in the past 30 days
- Past treatment for alcohol addiction
- Past withdrawal symptoms
- Past blackouts
- Past withdrawal seizures
- Past DTs
- Combination with “downers” such as benzodiazepines or barbiturates in the past 90 days
- Combination with any other substance in the past 90 days
- High blood alcohol level on presentation
The mainstay of treatment is making symptoms less severe, correcting changes in salt, water and mineral imbalances, rebalancing changes in circulation, breathing and body temperature, and reducing agitation. There should be additional treatment with thiamine to minimise the risk of Wernicke-Korskoff Syndrome (WKS). Nursing should take place in a well-lit, quiet environment.
Best Food and Drink for Alcohol Withdrawal
It can be difficult to consume food during the initial stages of your detox. More likely than not, you will have issues keeping your meals down. However, you must adopt a well-balanced diet to help you fully recover.
Stay well hydrated during your treatment, especially during the initial stages. Your symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will only intensify if you’re dehydrated. You must follow medical advice to maintain an adequate fluid intake. This will ensure that your kidneys can filter out alcohol from your bloodstream in an efficient way.
Soups and Liquids
At the start of your treatment, around 24 to 72 hours, you should focus on consuming soups and other liquid-based meals. If you indulge in more substantial meals, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to keep it down for long.
We recommend that you consume lean protein sources, including fish, beans or poultry. Your soup should also contain lots of vegetables.
Vitamins and minerals
People with alcohol addiction tend to suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Therefore, you should stock up on foods that are full of specific vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A (includes milk, carrots, and fish)
- Vitamin B (includes leafy greens, nuts, and eggs)
- Vitamin D (includes fatty fish and fortified milk)
- Vitamin E (includes vegetable oils, nuts, and almonds)
- Vitamin K (includes leafy greens and olive oil).
The most important of these is vitamin B1 – thiamine, which needs to be given in high doses during medically assisted detox, where it is provided by injection and then continued in the form of a tablet for at least six weeks after detox.
After Alcohol Detox
After you’ve successfully undergone a safe alcohol detox treatment, clients have the choice to opt-in to the therapeutic recovery programme. They can usually begin participating within days after detox starts.
Help with Alcohol Detox
It’s not easy to recover from alcoholism, but know there are resources dedicated to helping you and your family members fight your addiction. Remember, you can only begin the path to recovery once you’ve promised yourself that you will no longer abuse alcohol, and then you can move forward to a brighter, alcohol-free future.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism and sincerely want to get sober, contact us today to learn more about alcohol addiction and medical detox from alcohol.