Need Help? Residential Alcohol Detox Explained

A person dealing with severe alcohol abuse or dependence is likely to need a comprehensive alcohol detox treatment in order to overcome his or her problem fully. It is the nature of the beast. Therefore, the first question when establishing a treatment plan is whether residential alcohol detox is the best option or not.

Residential detox takes place in a clinic that can house dozens of patients simultaneously. During treatment, patients are actually residents of the facility, where they sleep, eat, and undergo treatment programmes together. Detox is often followed by several weeks of psychotherapeutic treatments that enhance recovery by helping patients understand the mechanisms of addiction and how to avoid future relapse.

It has been our experience that residential detox is the best option for most alcoholics. It is not the right option for everyone, so we also have access to outpatient detox programmes along with services provided by counsellors, support groups, and alcohol charities.

How Residential Alcohol Detox Works

There are a lot of reasons we recommend residential alcohol detox over outpatient programmes, beginning with the fact that detoxing in a residential clinic is medically supervised. Furthermore, medical supervision is provided 24 hours a day for the duration of treatment. In a detox situation, this is critical.

Detox is, at the very least, uncomfortable for the patient. But it can develop into an emergency situation if a patient develops a condition known as delirium tremens. Because there is no way to predict whether delirium tremens will occur, the best course of action is to provide constant medical supervision just in case it does. Delirium tremens can result in serious injury or death.

Upon entering the clinic, a patient will be medically evaluated by a team of doctors, nurses and therapists. That evaluation will result in a bespoke treatment plan unique to that patient’s circumstances. The patient is then made comfortable in a recovery room in anticipation of withdrawal symptoms beginning. Patients can expect symptoms to start appearing within 3 to 8 hours after the last drink was consumed.

Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Anxiety and disrupted sleep
  • Nausea (with or without vomiting)
  • Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • Mild to moderate confusion
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures and convulsions.

Most alcoholics going through detox will experience withdrawal symptoms in three stages that usually peak somewhere between 24 and 36 hours. In some cases where delirium tremens occurs, symptoms may not peak until the 72-hour mark. The good news is that symptoms gradually decrease after peaking and are all but gone within seven days or so.

Prescription Medications and Detox

There are cases in which patients in a residential detox programme will be given prescription medications to make the process more bearable. This is not a guarantee, but prescription medications are used where appropriate. Some patients may continue receiving medication after detox to control alcohol cravings.

It should be understood that prescription medications are not intended to be an alcohol substitute. In order for the alcoholic to fully overcome his or her problem, complete separation must take place. This is the whole point of detox.

What Happens after Detox

Another reason we prefer residential detox as a treatment for most alcoholics is what happens after detox. The reality is that detox only takes about seven days to complete. But that’s usually not enough to accomplish full and total recovery. Something must follow detox, something that addresses the psychological and emotional aspects of alcoholism.

Residential detox affords that extra treatment following the initial 7-day detox period. Those who want to avail themselves of it can take advantage of up to 12 weeks of psychotherapeutic treatments that significantly increase the chances of permanent recovery. Psychotherapy addresses the cause of addictive behaviour and teaches patients strategies to avoid the temptation to drink or take drugs in the future.

Why is psychotherapeutic treatment so important? Because the psychological and emotional dependence on alcohol is much stronger than physical dependence. As such, it is much harder to overcome. Physical dependence can be broken in 5 to 7 days with a standard detox procedure. Psychological and emotional dependence can take weeks, if not months to correct.

Five Reasons to Consider Residential Detox

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or dependence, you have some decisions to make. One of your first decisions is that of if, when, and where you will access alcohol detox. We urge you to strongly consider a residential clinic offering a combination of detox and rehab therapy. Here are five reasons behind our recommendation:

  1. Medical Supervision – Medical supervision throughout recovery is imperative for patient safety. Detoxing without medical supervision is simply not wise.
  2. Focused Treatment – Because residential clinics only offer detox and rehab, their services are highly focused. The NHS does not have the same kind of focus.
  3. Full Separation – Many alcoholics don’t do well in recovery unless they are separated from their normal routines and the circumstances of daily life that encourage them to drink. Residential treatment offers full separation.
  4. Ongoing Support – Residential detox and rehab also provide continued support by way of trained counsellors, therapists, and other patients also walking through the recovery journey.
  5. Aftercare Support – Statistics show that recovering alcoholics who receive aftercare support are significantly less likely to relapse within two years of treatment. Residential treatment offers aftercare support; outpatient treatment does not.

We work with residential treatment clinics located throughout the UK. When you contact us, we will help you evaluate your situation and, at your discretion, refer you to a residential detox programme in your local area. If our assessment determines that residential treatment is not in your best interests, we will provide you with a list of other options.

There is no need for you or your loved one to continue struggling with alcohol. Recovery is possible if you are willing to enter an alcohol detox and rehab programme. We are here to help you.

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