Comprehensive Guide to Alcohol Detox Centres in the UK

Alcohol is a widely accepted substance in UK culture. Many people use alcohol socially and recreationally, and in addition, some regions are celebrated for their alcohol production. However, for some people, alcohol consumption becomes out of their control. Abusing alcohol can lead to psychological and physical health issues, as well as damaging relationships, work, and social life.

With the right help, alcohol addiction can be treated. Whether you have a long history of addiction, or you have been abusing it for a relatively short period of time, now is the best time to seek help. Here we will look at the different forms of detox options available to you, and how to choose the right treatment for your situation.

What are Detox Clinics?

Detox clinics are where an individual goes when they are ready to receive treatment for an alcohol addiction disorder (AUD). Depending on how long they have been living with the condition and how severe it is, they may need a medication-assisted detox. Also known as rehabilitation centres, there are a range of detox options provided at these clinics.
After detox, individuals will usually take part in therapy and treatment for the psychological and behavioural aspects of addiction. This can take the form of individual talking therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), or group sessions such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

There are a number of treatment options depending on the needs and wishes of the individual. Some people may choose to detox from their own homes, known as outpatient treatment. This may be related to cost, flexibility, or responsibilities.

It’s important to recognise that detoxing from alcohol brings health risks. It is possible to experience both physical and psychological side effects during the withdrawal period. For this reason, choosing to detox under the supervision of expert clinicians is advisable, and this treatment is referred to as inpatient. Licensed medical professionals can monitor you throughout the process to reduce risks and ease severe withdrawal symptoms.

High quality medical supervision for alcohol abuse ensures you are in safe hands to build a solid foundation for your recovery journey.

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Choosing a Facility

After making the brave choice to access help, you are faced with the decision of which detox centre to select. In the UK, the NHS runs a number of outpatient programmes. Some charities also offer outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is usually provided by private clinics and varies in cost.

There are a number of factors which can help you decide which facility is best suited to your personal situation. Firstly, you have to decide where you are going to detox. As we discussed above, depending on the severity of your situation, inpatient treatment may be the safest option. However, others may benefit from the flexibility of outpatient, enabling them to see to their daily responsibilities at the same time as recovering. This results in fewer treatment hours per week so the full programme is typically considerably longer than residential treatment.

An average inpatient programme may run for between four and six weeks, and you will be asked to commit to this time frame in order to fully immerse in the process.

After you know which model of treatment is most suitable, you can begin to consider other factors such as cost, therapy options, facilities, and environment. Some individuals may prioritise privacy and confidentiality, while others may prioritise the alternative therapies on offer.

It’s important that you choose a treatment centre which is reputable and complies with the Care Quality Commission standards. These are the essential pillars of quality care, without which your recovery process may be severely hindered.

It’s highly advised to get in touch with any centres you are considering receiving treatment from. Much like any relationship, the relationship you have with the centre can ground you to the recovery process and make a profound impact on your success.

Upon Arrival at the Detox Centre

Upon arrival at your chosen detox centre, you will firstly undergo an initial assessment. This is the crucial first step of rehab and will be carried about by a skilled addiction specialist; a thorough assessment increases the success of treatment. This detailed screening gives the clinicians an opportunity to gain a full understanding of your physical and mental condition, as well as learning about your health history. This information helps them to build a picture of your personal situation, health needs, and recovery goals. Using this, they will then build a treatment plan incorporating your thoughts and ideas along the way.

You can expect to answer questions about your current alcohol use, whether you are presently under the influence, and if you use any other substances. This enables the clinicians to understand the quantity and frequency at which you consume alcohol.

The assessment will include questions about how your alcohol use affects your functioning. Identifying which responsibilities and activities are being neglected through your substance use can give an indication of the problem. There will be a chance for you to communicate the different ways in which your behaviour is changed by alcohol use, and any co-existing mental health disorders you are experiencing.

How Long Will I Need to Attend a Detox Regime?

The length of time required to fully detox from alcohol depends on your personal situation. A number of factors can influence this timeline.

During alcohol detox it is likely you will experience withdrawal, physical and psychological symptoms of stopping, or reducing your alcohol intake. Withdrawal can be dangerous, which is why supervised detox is strongly advised.

There are generally three phases of withdrawal, with the initial stage starting around 6 hours after the last drink was consumed. This stage typically lasts for around 12 hours and increases in intensity.

Phase two can last for 2-3 days and is more intense. Some people will experience hallucinations and more severe cases may experience seizures.

The third phase can last anywhere between a few days to a month. This stage is where individuals may experience delirium tremens, but medication such as chlordiazepoxide or benzodiazepines can be used to relieve these symptoms.

Preventing a Relapse Post-Detox

After putting so much energy and time into recovery, the last thing you want is to be pulled back into addiction. After detox, you may be offered aftercare which could include therapy and ongoing support. This is a crucial part of treatment and can prevent relapse. Rehabilitation should focus on addressing the root causes of your substance use, and any underlying disorders should be treated with appropriate therapy.

Understanding and recognising your external triggers is a significant part of preventing relapse. Identifying places, people, feelings, and activities which give you the urge to use alcohol can empower you to resist them. For some people, removing all external triggers is important, for others, preparing for all eventualities is preferred.

Working with a therapist you can work to identify the phases of relapse in order to catch it before it’s out of your control. Relapse doesn’t start with a drink in your hand. The three phases typically develop chronologically and include:

  1. Emotional relapse
  2. Mental relapse
  3. Physical relapse

Some indicators you could be at risk of relapsing include:

  1. Addictive thought patterns
  2. A decrease in self-esteem and self-worth
  3. Impulsive behaviour
  4. Putting yourself in environments with alcohol
  5. Considering alcohol as a realistic escape from pain

Recovery is challenging and having a strong support system is often the most important factor in preventing relapse. Having trusting people around you who can identify if you are slipping into relapse behaviours can pull you back into health.

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or another local alcohol support group, can give you the confidence and community you need to stay strong.

Mutual support can give you a judgement-free space to talk about your hopes, fears, and plans for the future.

How Much Does Private Alcohol Detox Cost?

Although there are free options of care provided through the NHS and charity organisations, these options usually come with long waiting lists.
Private alcohol detox can be expensive, depending on the provider. When considering the cost of treatment, it’s important to consider what treatments and facilities the provider offers. Some centres focus only on detox, while others include secondary rehab treatment and aftercare therapy. A standard treatment is usually a 28-day programme.

There is no ‘typical’ price for treatment as they vary considerably, but you can expect a month of private alcohol detox to cost somewhere between £6000 and £12,000. This does not factor in ‘luxury rehab centres’ where the costs can be much higher.
How much treatment costs will reflect what is on offer and how long the programme lasts. The cost of treatment includes:

  • Admissions and administration. Admissions staff ensure all medical records are confidential and swiftly transferred
  • Medical care. Includes registered doctors and round the clock nursing staff
  • Treatment and therapy. Including holistic and experiential therapies

Cheaper Alternatives to Alcohol Detox Facilities

Some individuals may choose to detox at home due to a number of factors including:

  • Financial costs – Detoxing at a rehab centre can be very expensive. Detoxing at home removes the financial pressure.
  • Familiarity – Being at home with your own familiar surroundings and comfort can be of great benefit to some individuals.
  • Loved ones – You may benefit from the emotional support of family members and friends. From your own home you can easily access them.
  • Confidentiality and privacy – You can keep your detox private from the comfort of your home.

If this has been discussed and approved by a doctor, there are a number of things to consider to ensure a safe detox:

  • Taper off alcohol gradually – Quitting cold turkey increases your chances of experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In order to avoid this, it is recommended that you gently reduce your alcohol consumption. This is also beneficial in managing your dependence.
  • Rid your home of alcohol – In order to manage cravings, it is imperative that you remove all alcohol from your home. Don’t underestimate the power of addictive thoughts, so remove temptations before you begin.
  • Seek out support – Ensure you have somebody or a group of people supporting you whom you feel comfortable to contact if anything goes wrong. They may need to provide you with emotional and physical support. They should also be aware of your recovery plan so they can seek advice if need be.
  • Reduce your workload and schedule – Taking time off work will give you a better change for long-term recovery. Keep your schedule light and allow for time to relax and care for your mental health.

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    Author / Jason Shiers / Dip.Psych MBACP

    Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.

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