Alcohol & Drug Detox

Alcohol & Drug addiction involves multiple components with both physical and psychological aspects. Simply put, when someone is addicted to any kind of substance it is not a cut and dried issue that can be solved with a ‘magic pill’ or a bit of hypnosis. Addiction is a very serious medical condition requiring very specific treatment. In most cases involving chronic addicts, alcohol & drug detox is the first step in overcoming addictive behaviour. The word detox is just a shortened version of ‘detoxification’, a word defined by the Oxford dictionaries as follows:

Medical treatment of an alcoholic or drug addict involving abstention from drink or drugs until the bloodstrehab houseream is free of toxins.”

In layman’s terms, detox is a scenario in which the addict refrains from drinking or taking drugs in order to allow his or her body to completely cleanse itself. Detox can be administered on either an inpatient or outpatient basis or, when circumstances warrant, at home.

Medicated Alcohol & Drug Detox

Most drug and alcohol detox programmes these days involve some sort of prescription medication designed to make the process easier. For example, a heroin addict might be given methadone in order to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. An alcoholic might be given one of several medications intended to reduce alcohol cravings.

The point of medicated detox is to make the process as safe and comfortable as possible. However, non-medicated alcohol & drug detox is also available for those who prefer it. Non-medicated detox is more commonly known as the ‘cold turkey’ method.

The main advantage of non-medicated detox is that it can be completed more quickly and thoroughly. The main disadvantage is that it is likely to be more uncomfortable than its medicated counterpart is. That said, there is a new form of detox emerging in England – a detox method involving heavy doses of vitamins and minerals given intravenously to counteract withdrawal symptoms. It’s still in its infancy, but it is showing a lot of promise.

Inpatient Detox Options

Drug and alcohol addicts in Essex have the option of undergoing inpatient detox at an NHS facility or a private clinic. Inpatient alcohol & drug detox involves a 5 to 10 day stay in which the addict will be under medical supervision at all times. This type of detox is medicated most of the time.

Detox undertaken at an NHS clinic is followed by the recovering addict seeking help from community-based services such as support groups and counsellors. It is generally the responsibility of the individual to seek out these services on his or her own. When detox is provided by a private clinic, things are slightly different.

Private clinics offering residential detox usually follow up with a 4 to 12 week residential rehab programme. This additional treatment increases the chances of long-term success substantially. That is one of the reasons we recommend inpatient alcohol & drug detox  at a private clinic over the NHS option.

Outpatient Detox Options

Like inpatient detox, addicts can choose outpatient detox through both the NHS and private clinics. This type of detox is generally reserved for those deemed strong and healthy enough not to need residential treatment. However, it still requires the recovering addict to take responsibility for him or herself.

In an outpatient scenario, the individual visits the clinic every day for the duration. The purpose of the visit is twofold: to receive prescription medications and to be assessed for possible health complications and overall progress. As long as the addict is doing well, he or she can finish their outpatient programme without interruption. However, any potential medical emergency will be reason enough to recommend the individual switch to inpatient care.

Home Detox Options

There are times when an individual is unable to take advantage of standard inpatient or outpatient care. In such cases, home detox is an option. This type of detox is conducted in the addict’s home, under the supervision of a registered nurse. The nurse is there to provide the same medical supervision the addict would receive were he or she at a clinic.

We listed home detox behind the inpatient and outpatient options because it is generally the least favourable option. Home detox requires a stable home environment along with supportive family members who come alongside the addict during the detox process. Before home detox will be approved, therapists will have to be assured that the home environment is appropriate.

What You Can Expect

As mentioned earlier, drug and alcohol addiction are serious medical conditions. Therefore, detox is considered a medical emergency requiring supervision. Once detox begins, you should be prepared for several things.

First of all, withdrawal symptoms generally begin to appear anywhere between 3 and 12 hours after the last exposure to drugs or alcohol. The types of symptoms and their duration depend on the substance the individual is addicted to. Some of the more common symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, and involuntary tremors.

Withdrawal symptoms generally peak on the second or third day before beginning to wind down. Most of them will completely disappear within 7 to 10 days. However, some chronic addicts exhibit minor withdrawal symptoms for months or years into the future. Remember that every addict is different.

Lastly, it is important for you to be prepared to take action once detox is complete. Why? Because the detox process does not change the circumstances that enabled your addictive behaviour to begin with. Detox will not change how you perceive drugs and alcohol either. Make sure you have access to rehab therapies you can start participating in right away.

If you are looking for help with a drug or alcohol addiction problem and you live in Essex, we are here to assist you. With just one phone call, we can advise you on the best place to undergo alcohol or drug detox, whether that be at an NHS or private clinic. We can also help you arrange rehabilitative services.

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug problem, do not wait another day to call us. Every day you wait is another day wasted in the prison of addiction. Make a decision right now to break free from addiction once and for all.


  1. Oxford Dictionaries –