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Alcohol Detox

The journey to sobriety starts with alcohol detox, an essential and inevitable stage in the path to recovery. Learn everything you need to know about detoxing and alcohol withdrawal below. Enquire Now
Alcohol Detox
Alexander Lapa
Updated on 14/06/2023
Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)

Alcohol addiction is a very complex behavioural illness. Although physical dependence and symptoms are obvious, there are also many underlying issues and influences related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism, such as mental health issues. It’s important to note that addiction treatment must go beyond a standalone alcohol detox for complete recovery.

Experience a positive and successful alcohol detox by considering our referral services here at Addiction Advocates. We can find the most suitable rehab facility and treatment programme for you, which will usually kickstart with a tried tested and proven detox programme. Reach out today for more information regarding alcohol withdrawal.

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What is Alcohol Detox?

In short, alcohol detox is the process of stopping alcohol consumption and flushing it from your system. Detox is typically the first step in any recovery programme, and, as you would expect, it can be a challenging period for someone who is struggling with alcohol addiction.

The starting point of rehab is a medically supervised alcohol detox programme. After undergoing an initial health check, you will start an alcohol detox in a controlled and safe environment. The detoxification treatment flushes out the alcohol from your body and starts the process of addiction recovery. This will follow a detailed structure to manage any withdrawal symptoms experienced and ensure the process is low-risk.


Why is alcohol detox necessary?

Alcohol detox is important for several reasons, especially for people who have been drinking heavily for a long time.

One of the main reasons is that consistently drinking too much alcohol can really harm your body. It can damage your liver, cause problems with your heart, and weaken your immune system. When you detox from alcohol, your body can purge itself from toxins and begin to heal itself.

Detoxing from alcohol also helps you break free from the endless cycle of depending on alcohol. Your body needs time to adjust to functioning without alcohol, and detox helps with that.

It’s known that detox symptoms from alcohol can be hard to experience, but it also prepares your body and mind for further treatment and recovery. Once you’ve gone through detox, which is often seen as one of the hardest stage recovery, you’re in a better position to focus on therapy and other strategies to help you stay sober.

What Symptoms Are Experienced When You Have An Alcohol Addiction?

With alcohol addiction, the symptoms of alcoholism can be different for every individual. It is not uncommon to experience physical and psychological symptoms such as anti-social behaviour, hand tremors, shakes, sweating, an increased heart rate, nausea, anxiety, perspiration, insomnia, depression, paranoia and persistent headaches.

Therapy for AddictionAlthough treatment can reduce the health problems associated with alcohol misuse, treatment cannot entirely alleviate chronic conditions, such as organ failure. It is, therefore, crucial you seek treatment via a detoxification and alcohol rehabilitation programme as soon as possible.


How can someone determine if they need professional help?

Recognising the presence of an addiction is an incredibly courageous and challenging aspect of the journey towards recovery.

It is not uncommon for individuals struggling with alcoholism to endure its grip for numerous years, adamantly denying their dependence to not only those around them, but also themselves. This inclination to deny is, undoubtedly, a self-defence mechanism.

Acknowledging the need for help can be immensely difficult, but it also marks the start of a transformative new chapter in your life.

Below are several ways to determine whether treatment for alcohol addiction detox should be considered.

  • If you feel as though you can’t go very long without drinking, need to drink more to achieve the same effect, or experiences withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop, you likely have developed a dependence and require alcohol detox, along with further treatment.
  • If you have tried to quit drinking many times but have relapsed.
  • If you have developed health issues which can be directly linked to alcohol, such as liver disease, then seeking treatment is absolutely essential.
  • If alcohol use is leading to problems at work, in relationships, or with the law, alcohol detox is likely necessary.

Remember, it’s important to seek medical advice before starting alcohol detox. The process can be dangerous without professional supervision, especially for people with severe alcohol dependence. Detox should also be followed by ongoing treatment to address the underlying issues related to alcohol use.

If you can relate to the above scenarios, please get in touch with us to discuss options for alcohol detox treatment. 

What Are The Stages Of Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the process of removing alcohol from the body. This will be completed over a period of days with assisted medical support to help to maintain patient safety. It is also important to remember that within a detox programme, recovery milestones are important to remain on track.

These milestones can be achieved with medical assistance, and each person will experience different challenges during this process. Some people will only experience mild symptoms and may be able to recover without much intervention. Others will experience intense and hard-to-manage withdrawal symptoms and will need medical supervision and additional treatments to remain on track with the recovery process.

Therapy for AddictionThe first stage of alcohol detox is when withdrawal symptoms begin to present themselves. The cravings and desires to consume further amounts of alcohol will arise in the first 6-8 hours post-alcohol consumption. To achieve recovery, individuals must ignore these cravings to progress to the next step in the recovery programme.

The second stage, commonly experienced 48 hours post-consumption, is where extreme withdrawal symptoms will be experienced. As the central nervous system is usually fuelled by alcohol and consumption is suddenly stopped during the detox process, painful and hard-to-manage withdrawal symptoms will be experienced. This is due to the body’s dependence on extreme alcohol levels, so individuals undergoing detox may need medical assistance to manage symptoms.

When someone has consumed alcohol excessively for an extended period of time, severe symptoms will likely present themselves. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include high blood pressure, nausea, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, delirium tremens and many more challenging side effects.

Known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, restlessness, delirium tremens, disorientation, and autonomic instability can be experienced and are difficult to control alone.

To help clients reach the third stage of alcohol detox, where withdrawal symptoms will begin to subsidise, prescription medications and alternative treatment options will commence at rehab.

This is very important to motivate individuals through the initial and difficult stages of detox. The degree of detox treatment isn’t available from home, and medically supervised alcohol detox programmes carry greater results and safety while motivating an efficient detox process.



How long does the alcohol detox stage last?


The length of alcohol detox treatment can vary widely depending on a few factors, such as the severity of the alcohol dependency, the person’s overall health, and the presence of any co-occurring mental or physical health conditions.

Typically, alcohol detox lasts between 7 to 10 days on average, which is why the majority of rehab clinics recommend at least a 7-day stay within an inpatient setting to ensure that detoxing is completed safely and successfully.

Sometimes, someone who is in active recovery from alcoholism may experience what is known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). Ongoing symptoms, such as mood swings, insomnia, and low energy, can last for around anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, but they are likely to become less severe and happen less often as time passes without consuming alcohol.



Alcohol Detox Treatment

Is Alcohol Detox Dangerous?

Yes, alcohol detox can be dangerous. This is especially true if attempted without medical supervision.

Depending on the individual and the severity of the addiction, the risk comes from withdrawal symptoms, which can typically range anywhere from mild to severe.

Mild symptoms include anxiety, shaking, nausea, and insomnia, which will start 6 to 12 hours after the last alcoholic drink has been consumed. More severe symptoms usually occur 2 to 3 days into detoxing from alcohol, and symptoms may include fever, seizures, hallucinations, an increase in blood pressure, uncontrollable shaking and a rapid heart rate.

In extreme cases, someone in alcohol detox may develop a condition known as delirium tremens, which is one of many reasons why detoxing under medical supervision is strongly recommended. Patients who develop delirium tremens will experience the most severe symptoms mentioned above, but to a level where it can become life-threatening.

Why Is It Safer to Detox From Alcohol Under Medical Supervision?

For professionals specialising in alcohol rehabilitation, medical supervision is seen as required when completing an alcohol detox to ensure that your body is coping with the process and you are able to manage symptoms. By doing your detox in a safe rehab environment, which is controlled and prepared, you’ll have the support and reassurance that you’re in safe hands while detoxing.

If you have abused alcohol for a long-term period of time, your body and mind will likely rely heavily upon alcohol. As you start the detox and your alcohol consumption becomes reduced, withdrawal symptoms are experienced, which may start moderately but are likely to reach chronic effects as it withdraws from your system.

Addiction TherapyTo ensure that your health and safety are prioritised whilst withdrawing from alcohol, investing in a structured alcohol detox programme is highly recommended. This is available through our referral rehab service, which offers you a safe and progressive rehab environment to complete detox successfully.

If you attempt to detox from home, please remember that the withdrawal process can be dangerous and difficult to control. Success rates are also much higher at a rehab centre, down to the support and round-the-clock medical supervision that is available in rehab facilities. For your best chance at sobriety, consider a medically supervised detox programme.

How can friends and family members support someone going through alcohol detox?

It’s tough knowing someone you care about is struggling with alcoholism. But remember, you can really make a difference in their experience with detoxing from alcohol.

First, try to learn about what they’re going through. You may not be experiencing it first-hand, but being aware of the symptoms of alcohol detox will allow you to support them and understand them on a deeper level.

In addition to the above, simply just being there for them emotionally is also incredibly helpful. Lend them an ear when they need to talk about what they are experiencing and remind them they’re not alone in this fight. It’ll require a lot of patience and understanding, but going through alcohol detox can be a truly testing time, both physically and emotionally, and your support can make all the difference. Caring for someone with an addiction is also bound to be emotionally difficult for loved ones, so also be sure to take care of yourself.

If they are attempting to detox at home, encouraging them to seek professional help is a much safer route. We provide a free referral service for family members and friends. Our specialist team can offer you support and guidance on how to navigate situations when a loved one is struggling with addiction. Please get in touch today to see how we can help.


Additional Treatment Services

Although an alcohol detox will initially help you stop drinking, addiction is a multifaceted illness which requires different levels of treatment, which is entirely dependent on the individual. As well as alcohol withdrawal, the psychological element of addiction must be treated too, commonly through methods such as group therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and motivational sessions.

By completing detox and therapy, you will have the best chance at sustaining sobriety. Without this treatment, alcohol cravings may become overbearing and lead to relapse.

To avoid this vicious cycle of alcohol consumption and addiction, completing an initial alcohol detox programme will be advised, followed by alternative suitable treatment services. Here at Addiction Advocates, we can recommend and help you source the most suitable treatment programme for you.

For more information on how beneficial an alcohol detox can be, reach out to our team today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the alcohol detox symptoms that you might suffer from?
Those who drink heavily and suddenly stop drinking can often suffer from some physical and psychological implications. Phsyical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include, but are not limited to: • Shaking • Feeling sick • Intense perspiration • Hallucinations • Seizures Some may also suffer from some psychological symptoms which include: • Feeling depressed • Feeling anxious • Feeling irritable • Feeling restless • Having trouble sleeping
What is an alcohol addiction?
An alcohol addiction also referred to as “alcoholism” is a disease in which an individual is dependent on the consumption of alcohol to function day to day. The individual often can’t think of anything but drinking and how to get their next drink which is often at the detriment to their personal and professional life.
What treatment options are there available for someone struggling with addiction?
Luckily for those suffering with an alcohol addiction there are a multitude of treatment options available in order to help treat it. The medications that are available include Nalmefene, Naltrexone, Disulfiram and Acamprosate. There are also counselling based treatments which include individual therapy and group therapy. Group therapy includes meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous which allows sufferers to discuss and support eachother through their addiction. Individual therapy allows the counsellor to attempt to get to the route cause of the persons addiction and work through this with the sufferer. There is also the option of residential rehabilitation which facilitates both the medicinal and psychotherapeutic treatment options with a detox administered by medical professionals.


  • [1] consistently drinking too much alcohol can really harm your body -
  • [2] physical and psychological symptoms -
  • [3] a self-defence mechanism -
  • [4] what is known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) -
Seth Bolton

Seth is an author, addiction recovery expert and fully accredited member of the national counselling society. He has experience working with a wide range of addictions and mental illnesses using a number of evidence-based therapies and programmes such as the SMART models of addiction recovery.

What do our previous clients think?

Really enjoyed my time at Asana lodge. Staff are great and most have previous experience of the afflictions that affect all the clients, so they can relate to the situation you are in. I feel ready now to tackle the outside world with all the skills I have learnt.
Thank you to all the staff at asana lodge from management to the cleaners, everyone made me feel so welcome and really went above and beyond to help me in my recovery. highly recommend anyone seeking help with addiction depression and anxiety to go to asana lodge and heal your mind body and soul.
Everyone at Cassiobury court have been very supportive with my recovery and I have learnt a lot over the past 14 days. I am taking away some good tools to help me with my addiction. I look forward to seeing the piers at the aftercare service.
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This is done to assess what sort of help is needed so we can recommend an addiction treatment service that can provide the best help possible. All calls are strictly confidential and are carried out by a trained healthcare professional.…

This is done to assess what sort of help is needed so we can recommend an addiction treatment service that can provide the best help possible.

All calls are strictly confidential and are carried out by a trained healthcare professional.

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We have a large number of helpful services available to help give you the best possible support when it comes to dealing with addiction. Just some of the services we can offer includes: Free confidential telephone assessment Recommending CQC regulated…

We have a large number of helpful services available to help give you the best possible support when it comes to dealing with addiction.

Just some of the services we can offer includes:

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We can help take the stress out of finding an addiction treatment provider by recommending only the best options available that fully suits your criteria. The help and advice we can provide includes making sure that your journey towards recovery…

We can help take the stress out of finding an addiction treatment provider by recommending only the best options available that fully suits your criteria.

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