Rehab 4 Addiction

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Alcohol addiction is a common condition that leads to a variety of health issues, both mentally and physically. Current statistics indicate that alcohol misuse in the UK is the highest risk factor for disability, ill-health and even death for those aged between 15 and 49 years old. [1]

Addiction or dependence to alcohol constitutes as drinking more than the recommended weekly amount on a regular basis. It includes drinking excessive amounts of alcohol despite being an awareness of how debilitating this behaviour is.

Alcohol abuse is when an individual’s drinking habits cause them harm or distress when the individual cannot stop despite repeated attempts, and in spite of knowing full well the negative health complications, it can cause.

It is signified by a loss of control over drinking alcohol, and a decreased interest and even indifference to activities and values the individual once held dear. [2]

Do I need to detox from alcohol?

To understand whether you need an alcohol detox it is essential to assess your drinking habits. Below we have provided a list of questions that can help determine if you need to cut down or quit drinking altogether. [3]

These questions include:

  • How often do you drink?
  • How much wine or beer do you consume per day or per week?
  • Are there any problems in your daily life or work caused by drinking?
  • Do you have any symptoms of alcohol addiction?
  • Have you been in trouble with the law due to your alcohol consumption?
  • Is your drinking detrimental to relationships?
  • Do you have withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking for one day?

Am I eligible for an alcohol home-detox?

Before enquiring about alcohol home detox, it is essential that you are able to fulfil the requirements below. This is solely to ensure your own safety and to ensure you receive the appropriate help for your specific condition.

The requirements are:

  1. You have never experienced fits or seizures, whether related to alcohol withdrawal or pre-existing medical conditions

  2. There must be someone who can accompany you throughout the entirety of the detox programme. This person must be with you at all times

  3. You must be able to set aside a period of 10 days (maximum) for the detoxification process

  4. You are consuming no more than a daily amount of 30 units

If you do not meet the above criteria, you are advised to seek professional medical help from either your GP or by calling our referrals team for further advice.

If you are concerned that yourself or someone you care about is addicted to alcohol, complete our free online alcohol questionnaire and a member of our team will contact you in confidence to offer guidance and advice.

Other reasons to detox from alcohol

The only way to stop a physical dependence or addiction to alcohol is to quit drinking and start a process of detoxification. Alcohol detox should definitely be carried for any one of the following reasons:

  • You have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder
  • You have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver
  • You have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C
  • You have chronic pain or a heart condition
  • You are struggling with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression
  • You are on medication on which alcohol can have a negative effect
  • You are planning to become, or are pregnant [4]

For more information about spotting alcoholism, visit our page which discusses the signs & symptoms of alcoholism.

While there are many services and facilities available, not everyone has enough money and resources to undergo a private medical detox. So, what other options exist? At-home alcohol detox is one solution to consider.

As the name implies, at-home alcohol detox means that you go through the whole process to stop alcohol addiction with minimal support from medical services.

This covers all aspects including medically-assisted detox, nutritional support, counselling and therapy sessions, and guidance on lifestyle changes. All of these elements are delivered as part of our inpatient programmes, while our at-home alcohol detox programme focuses solely on the detox aspect of your recovery.

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What is a medically-assisted alcohol home detox?

Similarly to alcohol detoxification at a private rehab facility, a medically-assisted alcohol home-detox is a supervised process where the patient is gradually weaned off alcohol over time.

During the detoxification, withdrawal symptoms can occur and depend on your level of dependence/ addiction, these issues can be mild or severe. In cases of chronic addiction, a medically-assisted detox can prevent serious or even fatal complications.

What type of medications can be administered to me for an alcohol home detox?

Benzodiazepines like lorazepam, alprazolam, and diazepam are common medications that can reduce the risk of seizures during alcohol detox. The doctor might also prescribe neuroleptic medications to relieve symptoms or some anti-anxiety pills to improve mental health.

Below, we have listed some of the most commonly prescribed medications that could alleviate some withdrawal symptoms. Each drug must be administered by one of our medical professionals and the dose you receive will be determined following an assessment over video-call.

These medications include: [5]

  • Chlordiazepoxide: a sedative to alleviate symptoms during the most severe periods of alcohol detoxification
  • Diazepam: a calming and tension relieving drug that can assist with tremors
  • Lorazepam: an anti-anxiety medication
  • Metoclopramide: medication to help calm the digestive system throughout the detox process
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B): a medication which replaces dietary nutrients that have been lost through alcohol abuse
  • Naltrexone: a drug that helps reduce alcohol cravings as well as gut problems and headaches

What to expect from our home detox services?

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we have decades of experience in assisting thousands of patients to overcome an alcohol dependence or addiction at our professional centres.

To suit the needs of modern life, we have now expanded our alcohol detox programmes to cover at-home alcohol detox processes. The general overview of what we offer includes:

  • A pre-assessment with our in-house psychiatrists and physicians which can be conducted over Skype or other video-call apps
  • The necessary prescription medication delivered to your door (the dose will be tailored to your individual needs)
  • Follow-up assessments from our medical team via video call
  • 24-hour access to a medical helpline should you require further support

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Why detox from alcohol at home?

Home detox can be a suitable option for those who cannot afford to go to private rehab – whether that’s financially, emotionally or socially.

While statistics indicate the inpatient treatment has a higher recovery success rate, more and more people are choosing at-home detox as it is easier to resume care for children or elderly parents, easier to continue with employment duties, and other commitments and obligations.

One of the main reasons that individuals struggling with alcohol addiction choose a home-detox are financial costs. As inpatient treatment includes residential accommodation, access to medication and counselling services, nutritional support and use of all the centre’s facilities, it is no surprise that costs are often considered to be steep.

While private rehab treatment can cost anywhere between £4,000-£10,000 per admission, detoxing from the comfort of your own home can cost a quarter of the price. Our current alcohol detox programmes range from £1,000 – £1,800.

Home detox poses the least disruption to your everyday life, and also to your finances. It allows you to detox and recover from within the community, and also enables you to receive support from friends and family without visitor limitations of an inpatient facility.

It also allows you to take control of your own nutrition and meal plans, which can help contribute towards a sense of strength and independence. It should be noted however that all prescription drugs must be assessed and monitored regularly by a healthcare professional during this phase.

First steps to alcohol home detox

The first few steps play a decisive role in the success of your at-home alcohol detox. Therefore, make sure to prepare well and complete the following tasks:

  • Ensure you have a medically-approved detox and support plan in place
  • Choose a safe and peaceful place for you to complete your home detox (for example, if you live with children or an elderly parent who you would rather distance yourself from during the detox process, make plans to stay with a relative in a harm-free and secure environment)
  • Throw away any alcoholic drinks from this living space
  • Make a detailed coping plan for each step of the process where you think difficulties will arise
  • Inform your friends or family members to get their support during this period
  • If severe withdrawal symptoms are foreseen, make the required arrangements with your work or other commitments in case you are too unwell to attend
  • Prepare sufficient fluids in your home to prevent dehydration
  • Stock up on vitamins and supplements to ensure your body gets sufficient nutrients during the detoxification process

How to safely detox from alcohol at home

In general, detoxing alcohol at home can be safe and effective providing medical support is administered. However, some important measures should be taken to avoid worsening withdrawal symptoms and other complications.

Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Monitor the exact amount of alcohol you drink every day and reduce gradually. If necessary, have it done by your friends or family members
  • Replace high-alcohol beverages with low-alcoholic products like beer
  • Drink a lot of alternative liquids like juices, plain waters, or electrolytes to rehydrate the body
  • Take in more foods and supplements to provide the body with sufficient nutrients

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Withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol can depress the brain and the central nervous system which leads to feelings of euphoria and relaxation. The body strives to ensure balance within all organ functions, and it usually triggers the brain to produce more neurotransmitter receptors. This then either stimulates or excites the central nervous system.

When you quit drinking, alcohol is deducted from both the original receptors and the additional ones that were forged during years of prolonged abuse.

This eventually causes the nervous system to become overactive and results in several symptoms such as:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

In more serious cases, severe symptoms can include seizures, paranoia, illusions, increased body temperature, and hallucinations. If you experience any of these latter symptoms during a home detox, it is essential you seek emergency medical advice.

How long does alcohol home detox take?

Most people can complete an alcohol detox in less than seven days. However, more serious cases might require more time for withdrawal symptoms to disappear.

The length of time it takes to completely detox from alcohol will be reliant on many different variables. Detox at home takes more time because you want to avoid any serious problems by taking the necessary precautions.

Alcohol remains in your bloodstream for many hours after drinking it, so once it starts to clear from your body you will experience those withdrawal symptoms within about six hours of the last beverage you consumed.

1. Six hours

Minor withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Slight tremors
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth

2. 12 – 24 hours

More severe withdrawal symptoms can begin to develop after the initial six hours. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Issues with focus and concentration

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms intensify for about twenty-four hours before they start to subside. Some patients have reported hallucinations at this state, but this is normally severe in the 24 hour period after the last drink.

3. Day 1-2

The minor withdrawal sensations listed above tend to progress into days one and two after quitting alcohol.

These symptoms include

  • Headache
  • Stomach problems
  • Tremors

For those experiencing minor alcohol withdrawal, these symptoms will climax up to 24 hours and will then begin to diminish by days four or five.

4. Day 2-3

For those experiencing severe alcohol withdrawal, this stage can indicate a lot. This phase is where doctors will keep an eye out for signs of delirium tremens, or withdrawal delirium.

Other symptoms include:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Agitation

5. Day 3 onwards

During this time, withdrawal symptoms from alcohol reach their peak and at worst, can last up to four weeks after the patient has consumed their last drink.

These symptoms include:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Changes in breathing
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Seizures are a more serious side effect but only about 25 per cent of patients will experience them. The more serious symptoms include seizures and hallucinations but only about five per cent of patients have reported experiencing this.

Late symptoms start between two and four days after last consuming alcohol. Tremors may happen at this point. All late symptoms subside between four and six days after last consuming alcohol.

Why therapy is also needed

Even when you have completely succeeded in quitting and detoxing from alcohol, there might still be a possibility of relapse, meaning that your addictive thoughts and behaviours recur.

This risk would happen at any time and depend on many factors, such as your lifestyles, family and medical support, and even genetics. In a recent study [7] about the relapse rate of more than 500 people who had recovered from alcohol addiction, the results showed that:

  • Around 6 % experienced a relapse after 5 years
  • Around 9 % experienced a relapse after 10 years
  • Around 12 % experienced a relapse after 20 years

While the numbers are not high, take note of the possible risks and implement preventive measures to minimise the risk of relapse in the future.

Some possible signs that indicate a potential relapse include: ‘romancing the bottle’; talking about alcoholic beverages frequently; hanging out with other drinkers; missing therapy sessions or medications; and a decline in mental health.

While detox is an integral first step in the recovery process, it is vital to remember that recovery is a whole process that involves maintenance. This includes regular counselling sessions to help keep relapse at bay, and further therapies to discover the root of your addiction/ dependence.

Who should not detox from alcohol at home?

There are some important considerations for those who would like to detox at home. Detox is a stressful and often complicated process which can sometimes be dangerous.

Everyone should think about their own situation before they decide whether this process is something that they should undertake. This is not for people who:

  • Have a history of seizures
  • Have been aggressive or violent when trying to quit using drugs
  • Have a chronic health concern – hep C, heart disease, diabetes, lung issues, liver disease
  • Have had severe withdrawal symptoms in the past
  • Suffer from depression
  • Take benzodiazepines or opiates as well as abusing alcohol

References

[1] https://alcoholchange.org.uk/alcohol-facts/fact-sheets/alcohol-statistics

[2] https://www.health.harvard.edu/addiction/alcohol-abuse

[3] https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/Its-up-to-you/To-Cut-Down-Or-To-Quit.aspx

[4] https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/Its-up-to-you/To-Cut-Down-Or-To-Quit.aspx

[5] http://www.awp.nhs.uk/media/705153/medications-for-alcohol-detoxification.pdf

[6] https://hams.cc/taper/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/