When someone undertakes an alcohol detox at home, there are several steps which they should take before the detox. It is a critical stage for someone during their alcohol recovery journey, so it is key they stick to the guidance below and contact their registered nurse if they have any questions.
What Should Someone Do Before An Alcohol Home Detox?
1.Alcohol Detox is a medical procedure which should be taken seriously. The patient is going to be ‘out of action’ for a week and should recognise this.
2.The responsible adult who will supervise the detox should be with the patient 24/7 throughout the detox. It is not acceptable to have a supervisor who is a neighbour who will call in at medication times, the supervisor needs to be staying at the same address during the detox. The supervisor also needs to be available 24/7. There have been occasions where a supervisor has said, when asked to call for the next medication time ‘oh, I can’t call at 10pm, I go to bed at 9.’ It is important that the patient’s needs are met, and the detox nurse will be available 24/7 and needs the supervisor to be available too. Overnight, the patient needs to be able to wake the supervisor if they need medication or feel unwell. All of this should be considered when choosing a supervisor.
3. Provisions should be shopped for in advance of the detox starting as the patient should not be going out shopping once the detox starts and the supervisor should not be leaving the patient alone either. Once the patient is feeling more relaxed and comfortable, there is no reason why the supervisor and patient should not go to the shops, but the patient needs to remain with the supervisor at all times while out.
4. The patient should not drive a vehicle at any time during the detox and, when a person has been medically advised not to drive, that person’s motor insurance is not valid. The patient’s ability to operate machinery safely is also impacted and any potentially dangerous machinery should be avoided for the whole period of the detox.
5. There is a reason why a medically supported alcohol detox is being carried out. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous without the medication. For this reason, while the patient can cut down their drinking, in advance of the detox starting, this should be done with care. The family should not insist that the patient stops drinking before the detox starts. Once we have the medication from the pharmacy, a decision can be made about when the drinking should stop and what time the first dose of medication should be taken, based on how much alcohol has been consumed over the last few hours.
6.Once the detox has started, NO alcohol should be consumed by the patient as mixing too much of the medication with too much alcohol can be dangerous.
Prior to the detox starting, the supervisor should ensure that they have a blood pressure meter and that it has new batteries and a set of spare batteries. It is essential that the blood pressure and pulse of the patient can be checked at any time.
7. It needs to be ensured that communication can be maintained with the detox nurse throughout the detox. It could be dangerous for that communication to break down and it is amazing the reasons that are given when this occasionally occurs:
– We forgot to call
– There was no phone reception
– I forgot to charge my mobile phone / left it upstairs and didn’t hear you calling etc.
– The cordless phone was dead and mobile reception is terrible round here.
– We fell asleep.
The whole point is that the detox nurse is accessible 24/7 throughout the detox. If things go silent the detox nurse has no way of knowing if there is a problem. If the patient falls asleep, the supervisor can call or send a text message to communicate that to avoid the detox nurse trying to call multiple times and worrying because they cannot make contact and don’t know if there is a serious problem. It’s not fair for the detox nurse to be seriously worried all night to then finally make contact in the morning to hear ‘we forgot to call then fell asleep and didn’t hear the phone ringing.’
8.If the patient wishes to work from home, it depends on the nature of the work and whether this is ok. Sending emails and dealing with phone calls are not likely to cause an issue, but it should be remembered that judgment can be affected by the medication and no big decisions should be made while taking the medication. The patient/supervisor should discuss with the detox nurse regarding any work which isn’t carried out sitting at a device like a computer, tablet or mobile phone.
9.As the patient’s balance can be affected by the medication, care should be taken on the stairs or in the shower (a bath may be safer) and the patient should not stand on any chairs or climb ladders while taking the medication. Care should also be taken in the kitchen if handling hot foods, liquids or other items.