What Is Alcohol Detox?


An addiction to alcohol can completely ruin a person’s life if not taken care of. For the struggling alcoholic, treatment is often necessary to help them realise a state of sustained sobriety. Anyone who has struggled with an addiction to alcohol knows how hard it can be to quit drinking. Alcohol detox can be difficult to say the least, and the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol can be too overwhelming to overcome alone. This is often a sign that treatment is necessary.

Addiction is complicated business, but it is possible to overcome. The first step is known as detox, which is the process of letting any remaining traces of alcohol purge from a person’s system. Following detox, treatment can begin to help a person sustain their addiction to alcohol for good. It’s important to understand alcoholism to realise just how important a professional alcohol detox can be.

Understanding Alcoholism

An addiction to alcohol can be devastating. Not only is it sad to see a person you care about struggle with an alcohol addiction, but is also very challenging. If you recognise an addiction to alcohol within yourself, it can be frustrating to realise it’s caused so many problems in your life. Understanding the addiction itself however, can offer a better understanding of why it’s so hard for you or someone you love to quit drinking.

Alcoholics depend on alcohol to make them feel okay. Once a person has developed an addiction to alcohol, they seem fine when drinking just a little. The first few drinks a person has each day make them feel normal. When they aren’t drinking, or have had too much to drink however, there are often very apparent changes in their personality. Anyone who has experienced an alcohol addiction is well aware of the mood swings a person addicted to alcohol will endure.

Withdrawal makes a lot of people angry, depressed, irritated, and anxious. It’s only when they replace the alcohol levels in their body that these changes begin to go away. A few drinks and they start to act normal again. On the other hand, when a person has had too much to drink they may become overly friendly or kind, angry, mean, sad, and even belligerent. Drinking to excess affects each person differently.

What Is an Alcohol Detox?

Detox is the first step on a person’s journey toward recovery. Detox is the process of withdraw from the alcohol in a person’s system. The symptoms the alcoholic experiences when detoxing are dependent upon their own unique situation. Some people may only experience a headache and a little nausea. Others with more acute cases of alcoholism can experience hallucinations, delirium, nightmares, and insomnia. The longer a person has been drinking, the more serious their detox symptoms will be.

What Is the First Step in Addiction Recovery?

Alcohol detox is the first step in overcoming an addiction to alcohol. It’s important to remember however, that detox isn’t considered a treatment for addiction itself. It is the first step of the multi-disciplinary approach that must be taken if a person wishes to overcome addiction for good. Detox precedes the rest of the treatment a person will need to overcome their addiction to alcohol.

After a person goes through detox, it is important that they receive the therapy and treatments designed to treat addiction. An addiction to alcohol is usually quite complicated. A person will require therapy and different means of treatment that help change their addictive behaviour and guide them towards more positive choices.

Detox simply helps a person through the uncomfortable physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms responsible for keeping them stuck in their patterns of addiction. Once a person has successfully detoxed they are better prepared to receive the other therapies necessary that will help them end their addiction for good.

Do I Need a Professional to Safely Detox?

People who are interested in overcoming their addiction to alcohol often wonder if a professional detox is really necessary, or if they should just detox on their own at home. Whether a person needs a professional alcohol detox is dependent upon how much they drink, how often they drink, and how long they’ve been drinking. A professional alcohol detox is best for those who use alcohol daily on a consistent basis.

For people who are accustomed to drinking regularly, quitting suddenly can be very dangerous. It is important to be honest about the severity of your alcohol use when considering going through detox. A professional detox can offer the support you need, even when you might not be aware that you need it. Being honest about your drinking problem is the first step in gauging whether you need a professional alcohol detox. Not doing so could prove to be dangerous to your health.

What to Look for in an Alcohol Detox Centre?

It’s important to find a detox centre that fits your needs. Whether just going through detox, or doing a detox as part of a comprehensive treatment programme, there are a few things to consider before making a decision. A reputable detox centre will include:

  • A fully-trained medical staff. This will include doctors, therapists, and nurses that are available for 24-hour care.
  • An initial psychological and physical exam before detox begins. This will help determine what is necessary to make a detailed treatment plan that fits your individual needs.
  • The option for medication during detox if necessary. Some cases of alcohol detox can be life-threatening and will require medical attention. And while other cases might not be as dangerous, it is sometimes helpful to have the options of medication to ease uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
image showing a man relaxing during his treatment at an alcohol addiction centreimage showing a man relaxing during a drug and alcohol rehabChoosing the best centre to fit your needs is vital when overcoming an addiction to alcohol. We can help you navigate through the many different options you have for a professional alcohol detox throughout the UK.

How Long Does a Complete Detox from Alcohol Take?

Understanding that alcohol detox is simply the beginning aspect on the often-long road to addiction recovery is important. The length of time a person experiences detox from alcohol is dependent upon the individual aspects of their addiction. Typically, an alcohol detox will last 5-10 days. The worst symptoms will be felt from 24-72 hours depending on how severe a person’s addiction to alcohol is. Factors that determine the length of detox include:

  • How much alcohol is consumed on a regular basis
  • How long the person has been drinking
  • If they are using other substances aside from alcohol
  • If they are experiencing any other mental or emotional conditions such as anxiety or depression
  • A person’s gender, weight, metabolism, and other health factors

After the initial detox period, a person will complete the rest of their treatment programme. Treatment at an alcohol addiction rehab will typically last anywhere from 28 to 90 days. A person should expect to slowly feel better as the length of their treatment increases.

Is Alcohol Detox Painful?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for those who are accustomed to drinking heavily. Withdrawal symptoms are different for everyone and subjective to a person’s individual alcohol intake. Some people will have a relatively easy time detoxing from alcohol, while others will experience more intense withdrawal symptoms. How painful this experience is will be contingent upon an individual’s personal alcohol consumption.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of detox from alcohol will be vary depending on the severity of a person’s addiction to the substance. The more severe a person’s addiction is, the more intense they will experience the withdrawal process. Minor symptoms will begin between 6-12 hours after a person had their last drink and include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

For people with more serious cases of alcohol addiction, these symptoms will be followed by more intense withdrawals. These will occur between 12-24 hours after a person’s last drink and can include audio, tactile, and visual hallucinations. Paranoia and delusion are also symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Delirium tremors (DTs) are also associated with alcohol detox. DTs cause confusion begins approximately 72 hours after a person’s last drink and can last 48-72 hours. DTs are most common in people who have been drinking excessively for a month or longer. In critical cases of DTs, extremely high body temperature or seizures can result in death. In cases of extreme alcohol addiction such as these, a medically-assisted detox will be given to the patient.

Stages of Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox usually occurs in three specific stages. The symptoms a person experiences during detox will depend on the nature of their addiction. The worst of alcohol detox can last a few days, while the lingering effects of detox can last for months.

Stage 1

The worse stage will begin a few hours after the alcohol begins to leave a person’s body. Depending on the severity of a person’s addiction the first stage of detox can be extremely dangerous. For acute cases of addiction, the first stage of alcohol detox often consists of increased heart rate, profuse sweating, tremors, hallucinations, and nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually last between 24 and 72 hours. People with severe withdrawal symptoms are usually monitored throughout detox and are often offered medical assistance.

image showing young people enjoying their sober life after successful Alcohol DetoxPeople with milder cases of alcohol addiction won’t experience the first stage of withdrawal with such intensity, but will display signs of an uncomfortable withdrawal nonetheless. Professional alcohol detox isn’t just for people with advanced cases of alcoholism. Detox can benefit anyone who is struggling to overcome an addiction to alcohol. Anyone who has a problem knows that the moment they drink again, the uncomfortable feelings associated with withdrawal disappear. This is what keeps many people in the cycle of addiction, and is why detoxing in a treatment centre can be so beneficial.

Stage 2

After a few days, the withdrawal a person experiences will tend to ease up. Marked feelings of intense anxiety however, are quite common in the second phase of an alcohol detox. An overall feeling of depression is also common. People will experience this early stage of abstinence from alcohol differently, but will generally feel depressed, anxious, irritable, and have trouble sleeping during this time. These feelings can last anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the severity of a person’s addiction.

Stage 3

A period of sustained abstinence marks the final stage of detox. Although by this time they will have been sober for quite some time, there will still be moments when they are triggered to desire a drink. Even though all the physical traces of alcohol are gone, there will most often still be periods of extreme anxiety. These feelings can increase the risk of relapse, which is why it is important to monitor one’s feelings well after the detox process.

Can the Process Be Dangerous?

Detoxing from alcohol can be dangerous, depending on the severity of a person’s addiction. Once a person has been drinking a lot of booze, every day, over an extended period of time, they increase their risks of danger when detoxing from alcohol. If someone has been drinking a lot for a long time and then they suddenly just stop, the repercussions can be life-threatening.

Stopping the use of alcohol abruptly is what can cause the hallucinations and delirium associated with acute cases of detox. For the seriously addicted alcoholic, heart failure while detoxing can result in devastating consequences. The first few days pose the biggest risk in detoxing from alcohol. Anyone with a moderate to serious addiction to alcohol should never try to detox on their own. The consequences of alcohol detox can prove to be fatal, which is why a professional detox should be taken very seriously.

What is a Medically-Assisted Alcohol Detox?

When a person has an acute case of alcohol addiction where detox symptoms do prove to be dangerous, they will often be given medication to ease the symptoms they experience. A medically-assisted alcohol detox is given to addicts to help them through this very critical stage of addiction recovery. The more successful a person’s detox to alcohol, the better they will respond to the rest of their treatment.

When people experience extreme withdrawal symptoms, they might be tempted to drop out of treatment and relapse. If a person’s symptoms are this bad, a medically-assisted detox can help them finish their treatment programme. When their withdrawal symptoms begin to improve, they are slowly weaned from the medication as they begin the rest of their treatment programme.

Why Do I Need Treatment if I’ve Successfully Completed Detox?

Because addiction is such a complex condition, it needs to be addressed on numerous levels. Detox is but one of a few different components that help a person overcome an addiction to alcohol. A person who has completed detox has taken the first step on their journey towards recovery. It is however, only the first step. To successfully sustain sobriety, a person needs therapy and different treatments that are designed to help a person overcome addiction. Detox will get them started in the right direction, but it simply the beginning of a much larger recovery process.

Although detox will help in the short-term, in order for a person to see the lifelong results they’re looking for, it is vital they receive additional treatment. Detox lays the foundation for a much larger journey in addiction recovery. The treatment a person should receive after detox will give them the tools they need to not only overcome their addiction, but navigate through life as a sober member of society. The additional treatment a person receives after detoxing from alcohol is essential to staying sober and embracing what life has to offer.

Is There Any Rehab Programme Available?

As you’re becoming more aware of, alcohol detox is only the first step in successfully overcoming your addiction. If a person is serious about recovery and turning their life around, getting further treatment immediately following detox is highly recommended. The importance of a comprehensive treatment programme for addiction cannot be stressed enough. A person must complete all the stages of rehab before they’ll be successful in staying sober.

If you are attending a residential rehab where all treatment takes place at the rehab centre, the transition from detox to therapy is seamless. A person will complete detox and move right into the different modalities of their treatment plan. This is one reason that a residential treatment programme is often recommended. The ability to not have to concern yourself with anything other than getting help while going through the rehab process can prove to be unprecedented for optimal healing.

Those who go through alcohol detox while getting help at an outpatient centre will most often detox at a special detox facility, addiction clinic, or hospital. After they’ve completed detox, an they will be responsible to attend the various appointments scheduled as part of their treatment plan. In some instances, alcohol detox will take place at home, but is something most commonly found in mild cases of alcohol abuse.

How Much Does Alcohol Detox Cost?

The first thing many people want to know is how much an alcohol detox is going to cost them. Unfortunately, there is not a one-price-fits-all answer for this. The price of an alcohol detox programme will depend highly upon the detox centre chosen and what is included in the programme itself.

There are options for alcohol detox that cost very little, as well as options that are much more expensive. Luxury alcohol detox centres will obviously cost more than a basic outpatient detox programme. We are here to help you find a detox centre that fits your needs as well as you budget.

There are some insurance carriers that will help with the cost of alcohol detox, as well as a few free services offered by the NHS. We can discuss all the options available and help you quickly find a detox centre to get you started on the road to recovery.

Why choose eata.org.uk?

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

Let Us Help You Understand the Alcohol Detox Options

An addiction to alcohol is one of the most difficult experiences a person can encounter in their lifetime. There are countless people struggling with alcoholism on a daily basis. Getting help can turn this struggle around. Treatment for alcohol addiction starts with the recognition that there is a problem with alcohol abuse. It isn’t until this that a person will ever be able to get help.

We understand how hard an addiction to alcohol can be. We’re here to answer any questions you have about alcoholism and the process of getting help. We can help you understand why detox is so important, as well as why a person needs further treatment after the detox process is over. Any questions you have about detoxing from alcohol (or the general addiction treatment process), can be answered by one of our professionally trained representatives.

We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with all the information you need regarding overcoming an addiction to alcohol. No one deserves to be slave to the bottle. Treatment can offer the help a person needs to successfully overcome their addiction for good. We are in touch with some of the best treatment centres across the UK. We’re also familiar with the various options a person might consider for detox, and can help you make the best decision possible regarding your individual needs.

Overcoming an addiction to alcohol is possible. There is no reason alcohol needs to continue to destroy your life, especially with all the different available treatment options. Overcoming addiction is a process, one that begins with admitting to a problem with alcohol. The next step is going through a detox, which is one of the most important steps in addiction recovery. We want to see you succeed in your alcohol detox. We’re here to offer all the information you need as you begin your steps towards the freedom from addiction you deserve.