Alcohol Home Detox
- Written by Paul Turner
Once a person becomes physically dependent on alcohol they cannot go without a drink without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how much that person has been drinking, these symptoms can be extremely severe. Excessive shaking and anxiety which can lead to more dangerous symptoms such as seizures and Delirium Tremens (DTs). DTs cause confusion, hallucinations, rapid / irregular heartbeat and fever. At their most extreme, these withdrawal symptoms can be fatal.
Heavy drinkers carry on drinking to avoid these symptoms and it works in the short term. It is not advised that any person, who has got to the point of needing alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms, attempts to stop drinking without medical assistance. This medical assistance is through either a home alcohol detox or a detox in a clinic.
Alcohol detox can be made safe and even comfortable for many people who are physically dependent on alcohol. Over a period which is normally between 5 and 7 days, medication can be given, in higher doses initially and reducing over the period of the detox. With the correct dosage, all physical withdrawal symptoms can be eliminated. As these can often be quite high doses initially, the person undergoing alcohol detox may spend the first two or three days feeling quite drowsy but, as the dose reduces, this wears off.
Once the medication has been reduced to zero, there will be no physical withdrawal symptoms and the risks will have been dealt with.
More information about alcohol detox can be found here.
For the majority of people, alcohol home detox is a very safe procedure. In occasional circumstances, it may be the case that the alcohol problem has already caused physical health problems which mean that alcohol detox should be carried out in hospital. This is normally when serious damage has already been done to the liver or the general health of the client is poor. I assess every individual thoroughly and will not do a home alcohol detox if I consider there to be any risk of complications.
If, for whatever reason, it is inappropriate for Alcohol home detox to be carried out, I will advise regarding other options. I can offer Alcohol home detox at any address in the United Kingdom or even outside the UK in certain circumstances.
Alcohol Home Detox Procedure
Firstly, a medical assessment will be done over the telephone by my colleague Dr David Eccleston from The Oakley Partnership. This will consist of questions regarding your medical history, any current medical conditions you may have and any medication you are taking at present. The purpose of this assessment is to ensure that it is safe for you to do an alcohol detox at home. It is important that you are completely honest during the medical assessment and do not withhold information. The alcohol detox may not commence if information you had not communicated became apparent when you were visited.
We will also need to ensure that you will not be left alone during the alcohol detox. We need a partner, relative or friend to be with you throughout the duration of your detox. We call this person your 'supervisor.' While alcohol detox is a safe procedure when properly monitored, there are factors that need to be considered such as the fact that the medication can lower your blood pressure and can also affect your balance. We would insist that you didn't go out alone while on the medication as your judgement may be affected.
You would need to have a blood pressure monitor. These can be bought from a chemist for between £15 and £20.
If the medical assessment shows no reason why you can't do a home detox, the medication will be prescribed by Dr Eccleston and you will be visited at home. You and your supervisor would need to sign some forms and the medication would be left with your supervisor. For safety reasons, we insist on this for all detoxes.
Depending on your alcohol level at the time of the visit, the first dose of medication may be given immediately. However, if this level is too high, your supervisor will be asked to telephone later with your blood pressure and pulse and a description of any symptoms you have. This will be the case for every dose of medication. This allows the dose to be adjusted to ensure that you have the safest and most comfortable alcohol detox possible. There may be times between regular doses when you need a little extra medication and there may be times, early in the detox, when you wake up during the night and need a dose. You will have 24 hour telephone access so that you are not left unsupported at any time.
An alcohol detox normally lasts between 5 and 7 days. Medication is started on higher doses and is reduced over that time. The dosage required at the beginning will determine how quickly it can be reduced down to zero. Some people need more than others.
The price of an alcohol home detox is £950 for most areas of the UK mainland. For areas further afield like the North of Scotland or islands surrounding the UK, contact us for a price.
After alcohol detox, if you can remain abstinent, that is obviously very positive. However, many patients find that they begin to crave alcohol again soon after the detox is complete. A lot of treatments available rely on counselling and support to help you get through these cravings without drinking but we believe this is unrealistic. The most effective treatment to be used on an ongoing basis to help you overcome the risk of getting back into difficulty with alcohol is The Sinclair Method. This is a medical (physical) treatment and there is more information on The Sinclair Method page on this website.
To get an idea if an alcohol detox is required, the World Health Organisation (WHO) produced a questionnaire which you can download here. Instructions to calculate your score are at the bottom of the questionnaire. This provides only an indication and should not be seen as a full assessment of your needs.
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