If you consistently drink large amounts of alcohol over a lengthy period of time, your body eventually becomes used to it. In turn, you’ll become alcohol-dependent and may experience both mental and behavioural disorders, known as withdrawal symptoms. Even if you try to cut back or stop drinking completely, it is often difficult to do so, as these symptoms range from mild to severe. Detoxification (or ‘detox’) is a viable option for handling withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol detox is one of the most sought addiction treatments in the UK.
Alcohol detox is used to treat your alcohol dependence through an abrupt cessation of alcohol intake. The process is often combined with specially selected cross-tolerant drugs that prevent alcohol withdrawal by simulating the effects of alcohol. Chlordiazepoxide is the most commonly used medication for detox and is part of the benzodiazepine family.
Alcohol detox involves ridding your body of all alcohol or toxins over a period of time, allowing you to start treatment with a clean slate. It is important to know that the medication used during detox cannot make you stop drinking. You may still have alcohol cravings after the period of detox, which is only normal. With willpower and the right coping strategies, you can overcome such temptations. Alcoholism leads to serious health problems and the best decision you can make is to get help.
You are not alone. We understand you and are always ready to offer our services.
There are a variety of physical and mental health issues that can occur if you abuse alcohol and suffer from benzodiazepine dependence. Benzodiazepines are used mostly to diffuse stress and cope with its physical and emotional side-effects. The drugs acting in the nervous system slow down nerve activity in the brain and the rest of the central nervous system. This is the cause of the calming effect. The results of an overdose include intense drowsiness or confusion, slurred speech and drowsiness. Other mental health symptoms include hallucinations, depression and mood swings.
With continued use of these heavy substances over time, serious chemical changes in the brain occur, making you unable to function without such substances. If you try to go ‘cold-turkey’ and suddenly stop all usage, withdrawal symptoms then follow. Depending on the longevity of use and level of addiction involved, these symptoms will affect both your physical and mental health.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause abnormally slow breathing and impair the areas of the brain responsible for sight, speech and judgment. Permanent brain damage can also be caused by severe alcohol abuse and the effects of long-term benzodiazepine use, as the brain loses the ability to create long-term memory. Alcohol affects your body from the very first sip. As the habit grows, the effects accumulate, leading to serious problems for the liver and pancreas.
It is crucial to be monitored by medical professionals, as alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances from which to detox. The withdrawal symptoms can even be life-threatening during the detox process. As important as it is to rid your system of toxins, the psychological factors behind the alcohol dependence also need to be evaluated. Such factors can hamper treatment if left unchecked.
Our services are designed to provide one-on-one care and ensure that the necessary assessments are made during detox, so that your psychological issues can be properly managed.
Alcohol withdrawal is caused by a wide range of factors. When you drink, an enzyme in your liver breaks down the alcohol. This process results in purging the alcohol from your system through urine. Any alcohol left behind in your system that is not metabolised is then absorbed by other parts of your body, including your brain. The impact of alcohol on your brain leads to feelings of happiness and relaxation.
However, when there is an excessive amount of alcohol present, you may start to manifest symptoms of drunkenness. Such symptoms include difficulty walking, slurred speech and lapses in memory. Because chronic drinking raises your tolerance level, your body will then crave alcohol in order to get more of the ‘happy’ feeling. When you suddenly quit drinking, your neurotransmitters are no longer inhibited by alcohol, leading to a state of over-excitement in the brain. At this point, withdrawal symptoms affect you differently from alcohol consumption.
In order to diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS), your doctor will review your medical history and ask about your symptoms, the last time you had a drink and whether you have gone through withdrawal before. He will also conduct a physical examination to look for signs such as a fever, dehydration, hand tremors or an irregular heart rate. A toxicology screen – to test how much alcohol is in your body – may also be performed.
Some conditions mimic alcohol withdrawal syndrome and should not be mistaken for it. They are:
Withdrawal is an uncomfortable experience, both physically and psychologically. As a result, you might want to continue drinking – a pattern known as ‘relief drinking’ – to avoid the pain of withdrawal, even despite the negative consequences. There are a number of factors that determine how severe your symptoms are. They include:
You may experience some or all of the following physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal:
Your physical symptoms can be managed with anti-anxiety prescription drugs and a variety of therapies, including exercise and nutrition counselling to address any vitamin deficiencies in your system.
In addition to the physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, you may also feel some psychological symptoms, including:
The help of a trained professional can make it easier to deal with the psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Our rehabs are available to help you during each phase of treatment, as well as long-term sobriety.
The main goal of detox is to ensure a safe and comfortable start to an addiction treatment program. Detoxification from drugs or alcohol takes differing lengths of time, as it is different for each person. Certain factors affect the length and severity of the detox process. They include:
Opiates, benzodiazepines and some other medications need a slow and steady detoxification process, so as to prevent health risks or possible complications. It is crucial that during detox, you eat a healthy diet, take routine rest periods and refrain from physical activities. After your detox regime has been written by a specialist at our rehab centre, your private alcohol detox will be administered by a qualified staff member. Throughout the entire process, you will be closely monitored to check for any signs that may require a review of your detoxification protocol.
Withdrawal symptoms start to appear if after becoming alcohol-dependent, you suddenly stop drinking or drastically reduce your level of intake.
From six to 24 hours:
Mild withdrawal symptoms start to appear after you have stopped drinking for roughly five days or more. Some of them may include:
From six to 48 hours:
From six to 48 hours after drinking, seizures in the form of convulsions or generalised muscle cramps may appear. In certain cases, seizures are the first and only symptom of alcohol withdrawal. Recurrent withdrawals and consistent use of drugs such as tramadol, can increase the risk of seizures. While multiple seizures may occur, the first and last are rarely spaced more than six hours apart. Withdrawal seizures may be treated and prevented with diazepam, lorazepam or other forms of benzodiazepines.
From 10 to 72 hours:
Within 10 – 72 hours of having stopped drinking, you may experience transient hallucinations, which tend to resolve within 48 hours. Unlike a hallucinating person experiencing Delirium Tremens, you can remain lucid and stable. Symptoms of transient hallucinations may include:
From 48 to 72 hours:
Delirium Tremens, characterised by wild excitement and trembling, may develop and last up to 10 days. Delirium Tremens often follows alcohol withdrawal seizures, and the following symptoms may be present:
As a result of the high rates of mortality when Delirium Tremens (or DT) cases are left untreated, a great deal of care is needed. Therefore, diligent supervision, supportive care and sedating medications are required until the risks to life subside.
Acute alcohol withdrawal refers to the physical symptoms you might experience when your alcohol intake is suddenly reduced, after you have been excessively drinking for prolonged periods. In certain cases, minor symptoms including any combination of anxiety, tremor, nausea, hypertension, tachycardia, sweating and mild pyrexia may manifest. These symptoms peak at about 10 to 30 hours and can subside by 40 to 50 hours.
If you are experiencing any of these withdrawal symptoms, contact your GP or check into a detoxification centre. Many of the symptoms require treatment, which can last for about a week. Treatment for acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms include the use of intravenous fluids, sedatives, dietary supplements (such as glucose, potassium, folate, thiamine and magnesium), antipsychotics (in the case of hallucinations), benzodiazepines (diazepam), and other drugs as prescribed.
There is an important factor that determines the detoxification centre to which you’ll be admitted as an acute alcohol withdrawal patient. This is the capacity of the facility to manage the acute condition and ensure long-term abstinence. The facility you choose for treatment should have follow-up services, or liaise with the appropriate follow-up services that work to prevent a relapse.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is also referred to as Prolonged Withdrawal Syndrome. It describes a group of symptoms or disabilities that occur after withdrawal from alcohol and other substances. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is caused partly by persisting psychological adaptations in the central nervous system, manifesting in the form of tolerance. Neuroscience shows disturbances in the brain’s transmitters and a constant state of excitability as a result of alcohol abuse.
The symptoms include: insomnia, rigid thinking, racing thoughts, impaired short-term memory, difficulty concentrating and learning new things, emotional numbness or hyper-reactivity, feelings of guilt or anger, as well as hopelessness. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome has also been associated with longer occurrences of fatigue, confusion, increased blood pressure, body temperature and heartbeat, emotional numbness, anxiety and depression.
When dealing with PAWS, it is important to avoid triggers that worsen the syndrome. These symptoms may be worsened by stress, but tend to improve over time. Sufficient sleep, physical activity, regular meals, multivitamins and meditation are all helpful when dealing with PAWS.
Getting clean from alcohol dependence is not easy. A wide variety of psychological and emotional factors contribute to your addiction in the first place. Also, even after the habit ceases, other factors can still weigh on your mind. However, coping with withdrawal and overcoming the symptoms is one of the first steps to long-term freedom from alcohol addiction. It can be difficult, but you can get all the help you need with the right assistance and support service.
An important step to successfully coping is to let go of the fear of alcohol withdrawal. While the initial process of beginning a sober life can be uncomfortable, the end result is well worth it. For many people, alcohol detox involves very little in the way of unpleasantness. The truth is that your experience can depend as much on your expectations as anything else.
Medically assisted, private alcohol detox is crucial. Ethically, your safety is the number one priority during withdrawal. A trained medical professional can help you and your supporting team make informed decisions about the safest means of detox, depending on your medical status. In addition to safety, your alcohol withdrawal symptoms may challenge your desire to be sober, as there is often a need to ‘self-medicate’ to cope with withdrawal symptoms.
If you need help coping with withdrawal symptoms, there is an extensive support network available. You can also find compassionate, expert treatment in individual, group and family counselling, medications and peer support groups. Professional alcohol addiction treatment experts can help you design a customised, comprehensive recovery plan to take care of your unique needs and concerns.
The ideal way to prevent alcohol withdrawal syndrome is to avoid regular binge-drinking. However, if you are already dependent on alcohol, it’s time to seek intervention (counselling) and medical treatments. After withdrawal has occurred, medications such as acamprosate, disulfiram and naltrexone are used to prevent a return to drinking.
Preventing alcohol withdrawal syndrome can also be achieved by avoiding mixtures of alcohol with benzodiazepines like Valium, Klonopin or Librium. Mixing the two can increase the possibility of death from overdose or worsen your withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawals occur as a result of the effects they have on the GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) neurotransmitter system.
Even if you have gone through alcohol withdrawal syndrome in the past, you can prevent a reoccurrence in the future by following these two methods: avoid regular excessive drinking and avoid mixing drugs and alcohol.
Private alcohol detox can protect your safety, lower your discomfort and increase your chances of successfully withdrawing from alcohol. Detoxification occurs in a highly supportive clinical environment, and is closely supervised by
compassionate, understanding and experienced professionals.
You will undergo a 24-hour medical observation from qualified medical staff at our rehab centre. Your detox experience will depend on your needs and the level of severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, you may be given therapeutic support or prescription medication such as Chlordiazepoxide. A range of other services are also available to help end your alcohol dependence with minimal discomfort.
In treating alcohol withdrawal, willpower will be required on your part. Since treatment is residential, there is minimal temptation. Education about coping strategies is helpful for long-term relapse prevention and will also be provided to aid the process. Plenty of nutritious meals will be supplied in addition to a range of supplements as well.
After successfully completing your detox, you can directly transition into the next phase of treatment. At the post-detox stage, you will acquire the skills and strategies you need to live a healthier and more productive life. Subsequently, it is expected that you can go on to live your life free from the limitations and constraints of alcohol dependency.
By the time you start your private alcohol detox, your body has already suffered months or possibly years of alcohol abuse. A medical team will start by conducting a comprehensive evaluation to address any health concerns, nutrition deficiencies and other medical issues. A medically supervised detox may be recommended, depending on the type of addiction and length of drug use.
If you are addicted to alcohol, suffering life-threatening benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms or undergoing opiate detox, a supervised medical detox is well-advised. Even though medication can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox, you might still feel uncomfortable for this period of your recovery.
Detox prepares you to take part in a drug rehab program. This program will include therapy, stress management, 12-step meetings, relapse prevention planning, family counselling, and other recovery-related activities. There are a wide range of rehabs, so ensure you choose one that meets your specific needs.
A medically assisted detox offers the best path towards complete recovery. On its own, detox can only do a little to help you put an end to long-term alcohol abuse. Increase your chances of long-term sobriety by seeking treatment and therapy during and after detox.
You can access a number of different treatment therapies. While some of these begin as detox is taking place, others can only start after you have completed your detoxification process. As soon as you gain admittance, you will be introduced to our psychiatry specialist who will perform a thorough assessment. After this, your primary counsellor will also be introduced to you. This is the person who will take you through the post-detox process and offer a number of treatments, including group therapy.
As soon as you are physically capable, you can start attending individual therapy sessions that offer critical support during and after rehab. The right professionals can provide you with cognitive behaviour therapy and help you identify and cope with your alcohol addiction triggers.
Individual counselling is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy which addresses your thoughts in relation to substance-related disorders, in addition to the way you think about life in general. It helps you reform your thinking patterns and make better changes in order to live a healthy and alcohol-free life.
During individual counselling:
One important component of your treatment process is support groups. Individuals are able to meet in a small group setting that is supervised by professionals. During the treatment process, individuals within the group are encouraged to tell their personal success stories to help your own treatment.
Support groups help you better understand yourself and your addiction. The goal is to create a safe place where you can share your problems, find a support system on which to lean, and develop new coping mechanisms to stay alcohol-free upon leaving treatment.
There are also different psycho-education workshops, focused on improving your knowledge of alcohol and alcohol dependence. By attending them, you can gain a wider perspective of your recovery process. The more knowledge you have, the more manageable sobriety will be for you.
Some good support groups offering useful resources on alcoholism include:
The twelve-step facilitation therapy follows the same idea as the program designed by AA. However, instead of working through the stages in a group, you work on a face-to-face basis with a counsellor. This form of therapy is usually the preferred treatment option when you are uncomfortable with the idea of discussing your addiction problems in a general group setting.
The benefits to this process are:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for alcoholism is highly effective. It offers a form of treatment that focuses on your thoughts and beliefs. Thoughts and beliefs determine how you feel and what you do. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapists, CBT relies on the fact that feelings and behaviours are caused by thoughts and not external factors, like people or events. Therefore, by changing the way you think, you can feel better and act differently, whether your external situation changes or not.
In dealing with alcoholism, CBT takes care of specific problems using a collaborative, goal-oriented approach, lasting an average of 16 sessions. The therapy offers you faster results, due to the method of using weekly assignments. CBT uses different approaches, including rational living therapy, rational behaviour therapy, rational emotive therapy and dialectic behaviour therapy.
To achieve the desired results from CBT, you need to complete the three main steps: first, identify your problem. Then the thoughts, beliefs and emotions associated with the problem are also identified. The final step involves changing your negative thoughts, beliefs and emotions brought about by the problem.
If you are alcohol dependent, your family members are usually seriously affected and need help dealing with your destructive behaviour. Family therapy highlights common warning signals and offers families a plan of action, should a relapse occur. Families can also learn the best way to provide the support you need during rehab and recovery. They will also learn to forgive you for any wrongdoings in the past, as a result of addiction.
Therapy is also available for the benefit of family members. It is quite stressful to live with someone who misuses alcohol. Therefore, receiving support in the form of family therapy can often be helpful. If you or someone you know is living with an alcohol dependent, there are a number of specialist alcohol services offered at our rehab centre that can provide the help and support needed.
The National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommend a number of medications to treat alcohol dependency. These drugs are FDA approved and include acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone and nalmefene. These medications are discussed in detail below.
This medication can help you maintain long-term sobriety. It works by cutting down cravings and other associated withdrawal symptoms such as sleep problems, restlessness, dysphoria and anxiety. It also functions by affecting the GABA chemical in the brain which is thought to be partly responsible for craving alcohol. Acamprosate may be a good pharmaceutical drug option if you are dealing with severe addiction and dependence. This is because it has been clinically proven to maintain sobriety for long periods of time.
You can only use disulfiram after you have completed your alcohol detox. Disulfiram causes unpleasant physical side-effects when small amounts of alcohol are consumed. The goal is to discourage you from drinking, so you can experience anything from nausea and vomiting to dizziness, chest pain, flushing and palpitations. These symptoms usually last up to an hour and for many people are enough to ensure abstinence.
However, other sources of alcohol will also need to be avoided in order to avert inducing the same side-effects. Therefore, products like aftershave, perfume, mouthwash and certain types of vinegar may contain alcohol, and should all be avoided while taking disulfiram. Also, paint thinners, solvents and other substances which produce alcoholic fumes should be avoided during your treatment period. Disulfiram may be the best medication option if you are highly motivated to quit drinking.
Studies have shown that naltrexone can effectively prevent a relapse and put an end to constant drinking. It stops the effects of alcohol in the body by blocking opioid receptors. One course of naltrexone can last for up to six months or longer, and it works well when used in combination with other medication treatments or counselling.
It is important for you to be aware that this medication prevents painkillers containing opioids (such as codeine and morphine) from working. If for any reason you feel unwell or out of sorts while taking naltrexone, stop using it immediately and consult your GP or care team.
Nalmefene may be taken to prevent a relapse from occurring or to cut down the amount of alcohol you are drinking. The medication functions by blocking the brain’s opioid receptors, reducing alcohol cravings. When treating alcohol dependence, nalmefene may be recommended as a possible treatment if your initial assessment results show that:
It is important that you only take nalmefene if you are currently receiving support with alcohol intake, and intend to continue treatment.
Detox is simply the first step in recovering from an alcohol dependency. In addition to overcoming your physical symptoms of addiction, you also need to tackle its cause. We review all the underlying factors that may have pushed you to abuse alcohol in the first place. After which, we will help you take steps to rebuild your life without alcohol.
To achieve this, it is recommended that you do more than just detox. To stay off alcohol completely and to prevent a relapse, you can undergo an alcohol detox and take part in a treatment program. Our services include a treatment plan that combines counselling and a range of therapies. You can thereby rebuild your life, develop effective coping strategies and understand the root cause of your alcohol abuse.
After detox, you will be offered psychotherapy and taken off medication, so that you can complete your drug rehabilitation and be alcohol-free. You can therefore expect to feel healthier and have a clearer mind, and thereby be able to focus on your recovery and achieve long-term sobriety.
Moderation and abstinence are two alcohol addiction treatment options that are recommended if you are:
The choice of whether to abstain or use moderation is ultimately up to you. However if you choose moderation, you’ll need to attend further counselling sessions to assess your progress. Regular blood tests may also be required in order to monitor the health of your liver. Moderation offers a realistic goal for dealing with alcohol dependence, and can be seen as the first step on the way to abstinence. If you are unsuccessful with moderation however, abstinence may be recommended.
Abstinence is also strongly recommended in the following cases:
What will happen if you don’t reduce your drinking?
If you continue constant and excessive drinking, despite your withdrawal symptoms, you may find them getting progressively worse. This situation is referred to as the kindling (sedative-hypnotic withdrawal) effect. This process is not yet completely understood by scientists. However, it is necessary to take action to drastically reduce the amount of alcohol you drink when withdrawal symptoms are present, so that they do not worsen.
Who is likely to have significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
You are likely to have significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you are alcohol dependent or a consistently excessive drinker. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are more common in adults, but children or teenagers may also experience the symptoms if they drink excessively. You are also likely to have significant alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you have had them in the past, or undergone medical detox for a drinking problem.
What are the risk factors for Delirium Tremens?
The risk factors associated in developing Delirium Tremens during alcohol withdrawal include:
The rapidity of onset and severity of symptoms are aligned with the frequency and quantity of your drinking. Not every recovering drinker will develop Delirium Tremens, but it is important to have your risks assessed. A physician (or other addiction treatment professional) is best placed to tell you if you need to be prepared for potential complications.
Can I detox from alcohol at home?
If you choose to detox from alcohol abuse at home, it is crucial you do so under professional supervision. There is always a risk of extreme health consequences with alcohol detox and withdrawal. To ensure safe recovery, find a proper detox program, whether delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
Some outpatient recovery programs allow you to go through home detox, but you should talk to your healthcare provider first. Recovery from home is not the best option in most circumstances. It is possible to manage relatively mild withdrawal symptoms using the right medications and regular check-ins with a specialist. However, it is impossible to predict all the withdrawal symptoms you might experience, or control all the possible variables at home. As a result, it is advisable to undergo detox at a treatment centre and work through the rest of your treatment from home.
Detoxification with the help of a GP?
Some specially trained GPs are willing to prescribe for an alcohol detox. On the day you stop drinking alcohol, a high dose of medication will be prescribed. This dose will then be reduced gradually over the next five to seven days, in order to prevent (or reduce) unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When you are undergoing detoxification with the help of your GP, you must agree not to drink any alcohol. In some cases, this will be confirmed using a breathalyser.
During the detox period, you can expect to see a lot of whoever is helping you. Support from family and friends can also be a huge help, and they can even share the responsibility of obtaining the prescription and administering the detox medicine.
Detoxification with the help of other health professionals?
You may opt for detox at a specialist drug and alcohol unit. This type of private alcohol detox is usually more effective for people who have mental and physical health issues, in addition to a drinking problem. Therefore, if you have learning or social difficulties, you could be offered hospital admission. Other health professionals can also be used if you have:
The clinical medicine used to detox in specialist units is basically the same as what GPs prescribe. However, the other health practitioners have more staff and expertise to provide the necessary counselling and support.
Can you successfully use alcohol to taper off?
There are many recorded cases of people successfully using alcohol to taper off from alcohol. The best form of alcohol to use in this case is beer. If you try to use wine or hard liquor to taper off, there is a greater chance of ending up drunk again, as they contain higher alcohol content than beer.
When you start tapering, try to limit the quantity of alcohol and drink just enough to stave off alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as sweats and shakes. As you continue to taper, gradually reduce the quantity of beer you drink. You should be tapered off completely in about a day or two, if the withdrawal is not too extreme. Tapering with alcohol can take three to seven days for some people. If you still feel withdrawal, then this symptom shows that your taper is incomplete.
What are the dangers of alcohol and benzodiazepine at-home detox?
Alcohol or benzodiazepines at-home detox is rarely recommended. This is because during withdrawal, these drugs can lead to major health complications, such as hallucinations, psychosis, health palpitations, tremors, insomnia, anxiety, Delirium Tremens, relapse, headaches, muscle pain, panic attacks and digestive discomfort. However, it is easy to be tempted by the seeming ease and cheap cost of performing at-home detox. The general assumption is that the addiction is to the social aspects of psychoactive drugs, and an easy solution lies in simply quitting both substances.
It is important to be aware of – or prepared to deal with – the potential dangers which alcohol or benzo withdrawal can cause. Otherwise, you may be surprised to find that a sudden halt is more dangerous than withdrawal from other addictive substances. In addition, friends and family often lack the knowledge or ability to manage the withdrawal symptoms during an at-home detox.
What is a drinking diary?
A drinking diary is recommended if your goal is to moderate your alcoholic intake. You can make daily notes about each standard drink you’ve had, the time you had them, where you were and how many units you drank. The diary will provide a clear idea of how much alcohol you are drinking, the situations that trigger your drinking, and how you can efficiently cut down on the addiction.
If you’re dealing with withdrawal symptoms and considering private detox, it’s important to know you are not alone. We understand you and are always ready to offer our services, whenever you need them.