Alcohol Detox Process
Acknowledging that you’re in the throes of alcohol addiction can be extremely difficult. This is largely due to the mechanisms at work in the body when you’re physically and psychologically dependent on a substance. Your body craves alcohol and doesn’t want you to stop having it because the positive effects you perceive tend to outweigh the discomfort you think you’ll feel without it. (1) That’s why alcohol detox is the integral foundation of treatment for alcoholism.
If you’ve been a heavy drinker for a prolonged period of time, in order for you to be fully prepared for rehabilitation, your body must be purged of all traces of alcohol. (2) Activities provided at Sanctuary Lodge such as group talking therapy, art therapy and yoga can help you get through the withdrawal stage. They also provide a foundation of skills and coping mechanisms to help you get back on track to achieving your goals when you finish rehab.
During detox, a team of professionals devises a course of treatment designed for your specific circumstances. In an initial assessment, they perform a thorough examination and ask you about your medical history to ascertain your needs. Depending on the nature of your alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you may be prescribed medication to help you complete the alcohol detoxification process.
Managing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Our dedicated psychiatrist may recommend that you undergo a medically assisted detox. If this is the case, you are prescribed medication that eases the discomfort associated with alcohol withdrawal. Medication is administered by staff and gradually tapered off as your body gets used to being without it. Medication can also be used if you suffer from co-occurring illnesses or dual diagnosis to help keep the symptoms of these conditions under control.
Our priority during this stage is making you feel as comfortable as possible. We have experts on standby 24 hours a day to ensure you’re safe and that you have access to vital support at all times. Enduring this process alone can pose a serious risk to your health, so if you’re ready to work towards sobriety, speak to an addiction specialist about the best next course of action. (3)
Alcohol detox medication
If a medically assisted detox is recommended by a psychiatrist, the most commonly prescribed medications are benzodiazepines. Drugs such as diazepam and chlordiazepoxide mirror some of the effects that alcohol has on the body and brain and provide relief from withdrawal symptoms. The dose of these substances is gradually reduced until your body is able to cope without help. We keep all medication intake under strict control and addiction to these, unless previously existent, will not be a possibility. You can trust us to help you heal and feel better.
In most cases, people who have been heavily using alcohol suffer from vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency. This is a particular risk if you haven’t been eating properly or have been diagnosed with decompensated liver disease. Thiamine deficiency can cause cognitive impairment and lead to a serious disease. As such, it is administered during the alcohol detox process to minimise the risk of medical complications.(4)
Combined Alcohol-Drug Detox
If alcohol isn’t the only substance you’re struggling with, you may feel at a loss. At Sanctuary Lodge, we are fully equipped to help you, no matter how severe you perceive your affliction to be. If you’re self-administering different drugs to ease the discomfort, you feel when you don’t have alcohol, we can help you to break that cycle and regain control of your life.
Upon your arrival, we devise a personalised care plan to help you detox safely. We do everything in our power to minimise the discomfort felt during the withdrawal stage. Even if you’re trying to come off more than one substance, we can help to make that process as painless as possible. Being in a residential facility and hearing stories from others who are experiencing a similar situation can be highly motivating and inspirational.
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If You’re Taking Prescribed Medication
If you are taking any prescription medication, a psychiatrist assesses potential interactions with detox medication and adjusts your treatment accordingly. Some drugs may react negatively with one another, so it’s important that you disclose what you’re taking.
Our team specialises in mental health, so don’t worry if you have a prescription that is currently working for you and you’re afraid to stop taking it. We’ll find a solution based on what is best for your overall health.
If you’ve been drinking heavily for a prolonged period and tried to stop, you know that withdrawal can be uncomfortable. For others, the perceived severity of withdrawal symptoms sometimes prevents them from seeking treatment. Rest assured, with 24/7 access to support and an environment tailored to promote recovery, symptoms such as the ones below can be greatly reduced.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
If you haven’t tried to stop drinking before, but you’re sure you’ve been drinking too much, don’t be put off by how uncomfortable withdrawal sounds. While going it alone can be dangerous, even deadly, undergoing the process in a highly regarded rehabilitation centre is the best way to make it as painless as possible. Some possible physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Loss of appetite
- Delirium tremens
Medications such as benzodiazepines can reduce these symptoms by emulating some of the effects of alcohol on the brain. During the medically assisted detox process, the alcohol you have been using is replaced by these medications. The dose is then incrementally reduced, enabling your body to regain its healthy chemical balance and gradually helping you to feel better.
Just as with any other drug or substance, psychological withdrawal symptoms are pertinent and shouldn’t be underestimated. These range from mild to severe and can include the following:
- Poor concentration
- Memory problems
- Post-acute withdrawal syndrome
For some people, the psychological sensations brought on during withdrawal may be very similar to the feelings that motivate them to drink in the first place. At Sanctuary Lodge, we diagnose and treat co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and social anxiety. If you are suffering from something like this, getting it diagnosed and treated is imperative and will significantly increase your chances of getting sober and staying sober. (5)
How Long Does an Alcohol Detox Last?
There are many factors that go into determining the length of your detox, including how much and how often you typically drink, as well as how long you’ve struggled with your addiction. Those who seek help earlier in their addiction may have the advantage of a shorter detox period. In most cases, the alcohol detox process lasts anywhere from seven to 14 days.
Is an Alcohol Detox Enough for Long-Term Recovery?
While alcohol detox clears your body of any trace of alcohol, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Addiction is the result of a multitude of factors, as well as repeated exposure to the substance. In order to achieve long-term recovery, you’ll work on changing your lifestyle and developing new coping mechanisms to help you maintain sobriety long-term.
Sanctuary Lodge has many resources that provide the support you’ll need to get sober and stay that way. We offer talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), individual therapy and integrative psychological therapies. During sessions, you’ll work with a highly qualified therapist to work towards better control of your emotions and how to live life more happily and freely.
What Happens After an Alcohol Detox?
Once you have successfully completed detox, you may feel much better, and it’s tempting to see your recovery as complete at this stage. It’s crucial to remember that becoming sober is not the same as recovering from alcoholism. The process of recovery is different for every individual, and there is no set timeline. Still, detox alone is treating the physical aspect of addiction — rehab addresses mental and spiritual factors.
Sanctuary Lodge is a state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre that can help you rediscover the benefits of sober life and begin your new, alcohol-free endeavours in a better, brighter world. We understand that alcohol addiction is a chronic illness, and our team specialises in helping people who are going through this affliction. Our sympathetic approach takes into account the most up-to-date knowledge and best practices regarding mental health, ensuring that you feel empowered and implementing positive reinforcement whenever possible.
You reside in a tranquil, supportive atmosphere for the duration of your stay at rehab. A psychiatrist devises a care plan that incorporates the treatments and therapies that are best suited to your requirements. Once your treatment is complete, we offer a full year of free aftercare. This aspect of treatment is just as important as detox and rehab. People who go on to attend 12-step meetings once they have completed their stay are much more likely to maintain sobriety. (6)
One of the reasons our facility is seen as one of the best in the UK is because we help you solve shared issues alongside your loved ones. As such, we offer industry-leading family therapy, so your recovery goes as smoothly as possible, and your family understand the best ways to support you. Some other types of therapy on offer include:
- CBT: During CBT, you will discover how feelings, thoughts and behaviours are intricately linked. By talking to a qualified therapist, you can begin to recognise and alter negative behaviour patterns and thinking styles that may be contributing factors to your unhealthy relationship with alcohol. (6)
- Individual therapy: With this type of therapy, you work with a therapist to uncover the underlying causes of your behaviour. This can be particularly useful for people with co-occurring disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder. (7)
- Holistic therapies: Exercise classes, yoga, meditation, practising mindfulness, art therapy and sound therapy are all examples of holistic therapies used at Sanctuary Lodge. Participating in these activities provides a welcome distraction and helps you find healthier ways to battle stress and pressure.
Your care doesn’t end as you walk out of the door. Recovery is an ongoing process. This is why we provide free aftercare.
Alcohol Detox FAQ
You may be prescribed medications to take during the detox process, which can last as long as two weeks in some cases.