Alcohol Detox That Can Help | Rehab Guide

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol Detox


Alcohol Detox

If you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking, it may be that you have an alcohol addiction or are possibly alcohol dependent.

Those who have a physical dependence will find it very difficult to get sober without medical and professional help. Those who have an alcohol addiction will find it difficult to get sober and need assistance and treatment to stay sober.

We are here to guide you through the entire detoxing process from alcohol and advise you of the alcohol detox options and various methods and treatments available in the UK and overseas.

We work with several highly reputable private alcohol services and can locate a clinic near you that will provide life-saving treatment to stop drinking safely.

With our expert help, quitting alcohol doesn’t need to be a frightening or overwhelming prospect. You or your loved will have the means to get sober and start your recovery journey today.

What is a Medical Alcohol Detox?

A medical alcohol detox is a procedure conducted by qualified addiction treatment professionals.

A qualified doctor or psychiatrist will prescribe a detox regime, whereby an approved detox medication is used to substitute the alcohol immediately. You mustn’t drink any alcohol while undergoing a full medical detox.

Following a comprehensive medical assessment of your mental and physical well-being, considering your age, gender, BMI, medical history and dependency levels, a medical detox regime will be prescribed.

You will start off in the highest amount of detox medication, which will be frequently administered – usually every 4 to 6 hours. The medication is then reduced over a number of days until it is stopped completely. Providing you do not drink during your medical detoxification, you will then be alcohol-free.

A prescribed detox regime makes stopping drinking much safer. It works by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms to manageable levels. You’re well being is continually monitored during the detox process by highly trained professionals. This ensures you are comfortable, safe and supported throughout.

Understanding Alcohol Tolerance, Dependence and Addiction

Tolerance develops over a period of time and with frequent exposure to alcohol. Those that drink daily or binge drink are at the highest risk of developing a tolerance.

Once tolerant to a certain level, you will find that you need to drink more in order to gain the desired effect.

If tolerance is accompanied by alcohol dependence, you will need to consume a certain amount of alcohol to stop withdrawal symptoms from developing.

Alcohol Dependence

Dependence can follow on from alcohol tolerance but not always. Those that drink daily are at high risk of becoming both alcohol tolerant and dependent.

Displaying withdrawal symptoms that are relieved with consuming more alcohol is a definite sign of dependence.

Alcohol addiction, commonly known as alcoholism, is a medically recognised condition that requires intensive and specific professional treatment.

More often than not, it is the case that once dependent, an individual will also become addicted.

Alcohol Addiction

Addiction occurs when you develop a psychological attachment to alcohol, with or without the presence of physical dependence.

Psychologically, alcoholism is an extremely complex illness to treat. Stopping alcohol does not cure alcoholism; it does, however, stop the disease from further progressing.

Alcohol addiction can occur in anyone and at any time, although there is a period of heavy or regular drinking leading up to it in people.

Alcoholism occurs through repeated exposure. Over time, substantial chemical changes take place in the brain’s neural pathways. The brain then becomes progressively more obsessed and preoccupied with alcohol.

An alcoholic will not only find it incredibly difficult to stop but will also find staying stopped a daily battle if the addiction is not adequately and professionally treated.

Alcoholism is a Disease

In 1956 the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a disease. In 1991, the AMA endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.

They stated the following reasons for alcoholism to be classed as a disease:


This diagnosis fits with the “Description of the alcoholic” and ‘The Doctor’s Opinion” detailed by Alcoholics Anonymous – Who in 1939 published the first Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book edition, describing alcoholism as a disease that centres in the mind and manifests in a physical allergy to alcohol.

The Centre on Addiction defines addiction as:

 “….a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods

alcohol detox

Who Needs A Detox?

Anyone that has developed a physical dependence will need a detox in order to stop drinking safely.

Displaying withdrawal symptoms when a drink is needed indicates that medical detox is the safest course of action. Stopping any other way is highly risky and can even be life-threatening.

Drinking heavily and for prolonged periods of time heavily impacts the brain and body, as explained in the following video, sourced from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can start within as little as 2 hours from the last alcoholic drink where there is alcohol dependence.

The alcohol-dependent brain reacts to a sudden drop in alcohol by manifesting a number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms – some of which can cause complications and even death.

The first 72 hours of withdrawal syndrome are considered to be very high risk. In reality, withdrawal symptoms can continue for much longer.

Undergoing a full medical detox in a treatment centre prevents withdrawal syndrome from occurring; symptoms are carefully monitored and effectively managed by approved substitute medication.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping alcohol abruptly or reducing the amount you drink too quickly without medical help can result in the following unpleasant and dangerous  withdrawal symptoms:

Physical symptoms of withdrawal:

Psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hallucinations (auditory or visual)
  • Irrational thoughts
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Self-harm urges

Withdrawal symptoms that are highlighted in Red are considered to be very serious and require immediate medical attention.

It is possible to die from alcohol withdrawal.

Methods of Detox

 Abrupt cessation of alcohol / “cold turkey” – This is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted where there is physical alcohol dependence.

Alcohol reduction regime – You may decide to taper off your consumption rather than undergo inpatient treatment. Please consult with your doctor and an addiction professional before attempting to do this. Reducing too quickly can result in an alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Medically assisted alcohol detox – This is where medication is prescribed to help you reduce and stop your alcohol intake. There is a danger of prescription drug abuse with this option, and it rarely works for those that attempt it in the community.

Home detox it is possible for a private detox to be arranged at home, whereby a trained nurse will visit daily to administer the medication. It is vital that you are supervised throughout the detox to ensure your safety.

Medically managed detox – This is where the alcohol is completely substituted with approved pharmaceutical medication. The detox is controlled by professionals who will continually monitor you for signs of withdrawal from beginning to end. In a controlled facility such as a residential clinic or rehab, there is no alcohol access, so the temptation to drink is removed. This makes the detox much easier to complete.

Safe Withdrawal

Risks associated with a medical detox are minimal as experienced professionals control the procedure. If withdrawal symptoms occur, they will be assessed for their severity and if necessary, an adjustment to detox medication can be made.

Risks associated with non medicated and unsupervised detoxes are severe and life-threatening. There is also an extremely high risk of relapse.

Benefits of Alcohol Detox in a Clinic

The CQC registered inpatient clinics that we work with offer the following benefits:

  • 24/7 monitoring from a team of medical and addiction professionals
  • Medication to ease  withdrawal symptoms
  • A safe, compassionate, alcohol-free environment
  • Focus on personal recovery and healing
  • Counselling and therapy delivered by addiction treatment professionals
  • The opportunity to undertake a full rehab programme
  • Aftercare

What Happens After Detoxification?

It is strongly recommended that any individual that undergoes detox also undergoes a comprehensive rehab programme and aftercare.

Detoxification only effectively removes alcohol; it does not provide the addicted individual with the necessary healing and recovery tools required to prevent relapse.

An alcohol rehab programme is tailored specifically to meet your individual physical and psychological treatment needs, ensuring a comprehensive healing experience.

Any treatment programme that is missing the essential psychological component of treatment is considered inadequate in achieving long-term recovery.

Q & A 

Is alcohol withdrawal painful?

The fear of pain is what stops many from undergoing withdrawal, even when they desperately need it. Going cold turkey from alcohol where there is a physical dependence is very unpleasant, can be painful and even life-threatening. However, medical detox is nothing like this.

How does a medical alcohol detox feel?

Undergoing a medical detox may make you feel sleepy and forgetful. This is because the medication used suppresses your body’s natural reaction to stopping. Your body and brain are slowed down to stop life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Most individuals that undergo a medical detox report that it is not an uncomfortable experience.

Is alcohol withdrawal dangerous?

Stopping abruptly or too quickly where there is an alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction is extremely uncomfortable. Some find it terrifying. Life-threatening complications can occur during an unmanaged withdrawal.

Medical detoxification is not considered dangerous when managed correctly.

Can my GP help me detox from alcohol?

Most GPs will not prescribe the medication in the community. This is because there is a high risk of benzodiazepine abuse or prescription drug addiction occurring.

Where can I get a free alcohol detox?

Alcohol detoxes on the NHS, or free detox, either come with lengthily waiting times or great risks.

NHS hospitals will very occasionally conduct a medical detox but only where there is an emergency admission that requires an inpatient stay.

To apply for free alcohol detox in the community, please contact your local drug and alcohol team.

Can I force a family member or loved one into alcohol rehab?

The short answer to this is no. No one can be forced or should be forced against their will.

Treatment is likely to fail if the person is not willing. All patients have the right to discharge from a detox clinic or hospital if they wish.

How long does alcohol detox last?

The length of medical detox can vary depending on the individual’s addiction treatment needs. Most are completed within 5 to 10 days.

Attempting a non-medical alcohol detox is not recommended if you have a dependence to alcohol.

How soon can I admit to a private clinic?

We work with many accredited and exemplary CQC registered centres. We can arrange an admission within 24 hours of receiving your telephone call or email enquiry.

How much does alcohol detox cost?

Private treatment costs vary depending on the facility in which they are conducted and the detox duration required.

Rehab Guide offers everything from affordable detox to luxury detox; please call us directly for more information on our prices and facilities available.


The Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) – Wikipedia



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