What is Alcohol Detoxing?

If you feel like you need alcohol to operate and feel normal on a day-to-day basis, you will need help, and detox will be the first stage of your recovery process.

Going “cold turkey” alone and trying to stop your dependence this way is generally a bad idea and has a low success rate. Going through withdrawal without an appropriate alcohol detox regime and qualified medical supervision can also lead to health issues and even death in more serious cases.

Detoxing from alcohol involves getting alcohol out of your system with proper medical support, diet, exercise and treatment.

When it comes to treating alcohol addiction, everybody has slightly different needs. Serenity Addiction Centres will create a personalised alcohol detox programme for each patient, as a general overall plan will have a low chance of success due to the difference in individual aspects of life that can encourage drinking problems.

If you or a loved one has an alcohol dependence related problem then it is important to seek assistance as early as possible. The earlier you seek assistance, the easier your route to recovery will be. A good detoxification program will help you give yourself the opportunity to lead a happier and healthier life.

Who is an alcohol detox for?

Drinking alcohol is considered an acceptable drug and can be a part of most social events in the UK. Social drinking is not a problem as long as a physical dependence doesn’t arise.

Unfortunately, plenty of drinkers pass that stage and continue drinking on their own or outside of social occasions. Part of the reason could be that they are in denial about their issues. But another problem is that the idea of detoxing can strike fear into the heart of someone with a drinking problem, who may think it is easier and less stressful to just continue as they are and face the consequences if and when they come.

Detoxing is a natural process that begins when you stop drinking, and is essentially your body trying to rid itself of the built-up chemicals and toxins you have accumulated as a result of your drinking.

How Does Alcohol Detox Work?

There is one thing most people are concerned about and which tends to be their first question when asking about an alcohol detox: how long will it take?

When an alcoholic stops drinking, they usually begin to feel the first withdrawal symptoms between 6 and 24 hours later. This can begin while the alcohol is still in your system at a lower level than you are used to, but will continue as the alcohol slowly works its way out of your system completely.

These symptoms can last for 7 days or even longer, but they generally hit their worst between 24 and 72 hours after stopping drinking.

During this time, it will be incredibly tempting to have a drink just to “take the edge off” or make you feel normal again for a short while. This period also has the most serious symptoms, which can include panic attacks and hallucinations in severe cases.

This is why it’s extremely important to have therapy or consultations at this time, to keep you motivated and aware of how your detoxification is coming along. The more help you have, the more likely you are to stick with your detox program and succeed.

The main thing to remember if you’re worried about how long alcohol detox may take, is that every hour, and every day is progress, and the most testing times are usually the most rewarding when you manage to get through them.

We also offer full support at all stages of your detox program, so regardless of whether you’re performing a home detox or you are an inpatient with us, we can offer a wide range of therapy sessions, medication for withdrawal symptoms and general checkups to make sure everything is going well.

Fighting with Withdrawal

Alcohol detox symptoms can vary wildly depending on how much you are used to drinking and your general health.

Some of the most common symptoms when detoxing from alcohol are:

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • ‘The shakes’
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Blood pressure and heart rate changes
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium Tremens (a serious and life-threatening condition that can cause confusion, fevers, and even seizures)
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures – these are the most serious symptoms and are a sign of your brain’s chemistry being altered by the constant presence of alcohol

Our highly experienced team will be on hand via phone or in person to help you cope with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. So you know that you are in safe hands.

Taking Advantage of Medications

The best route to defeating alcohol dependence is through detoxification, therapy sessions and consistent effort. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic medication that can just end your addiction.

Despite this, there are plenty of alcohol detox drugs and medications we can use throughout the rehabilitation process. These tend to be focused around alleviating and reducing the withdrawal symptoms, making the whole process easier to manage and have less of an impact on your body. Below are some of the most common medications for detoxing from alcohol.


Acamprosate is used to fight the desire to drink and also help you brain start to regain it’s correct functions after you have quit drinking. It works by changing the levels of a brain chemical called gamma-aminobutyric-acid (GABA) which is thought to be a part of inducing alcohol cravings.

Acamprosate can be prescribed when you start having withdrawal symptoms and for up to 6 months afterward, helping the recovery process go more smoothly.


Disulfiram is another drug used to fight the desire to relapse. While it doesn’t have any direct effect on your brain function or directly reduce alcohol cravings, this drug works by causing negative and unwanted side effects when combined with alcohol.

If you drink while taking Disulfiram, you are likely to experience flushes, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, feelings of weakness, chest pain, vomiting and more. You even need to avoid other things that contain alcohol for example paint strippers, mouthwashes and some perfumes.

Disulfiram works by creating an association in your mind between alcohol and the feelings you get when drinking on the medication, deterring you from wanting to drink.


Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptors in your body, stopping alcohol from having any effect. By doing this it helps fight cravings and prevent relapses since if you do drink you feel little to no benefit.

It is worth being cautious with naltrexone however, as it does have the same effect on all opioids, stopping painkillers like codeine and morphine. It can also stimulate and exacerbate withdrawal symptoms, so it is best to detox for a week to ten days before taking naltrexone as opposed to take it immediately on stopping drinking.


Benzos such as diazepam or chlordiazepoxide are often used to calm the nervous system, and fight related symptoms such as anxiety, the shakes, insomnia and more.

Recover Faster with a Healthier Diet

The associated nausea with alcohol dependence can make food the last thing you want to think about.  Despite this, alcohol has a major effect on your metabolism and the way nutrients are taken into your body, meaning your alcohol detox diet is a crucial part of recovering as well and as quickly as you possibly can.

Here are some dietary tips that can help you with recovery:

Prioritise Water

A simple pointer, but probably more important than you realise. Since alcohol dehydrates you, chances are you need to drink a lot of water anyway to rehydrate and overcome the damage caused by your time drinking, but water can also help flush out the toxins from your body and speed up the detox process.

Vitamins & Minerals

During the early stages of detoxing, you can find it difficult to eat at all due to nausea and generally feeling rough. Vitamin and mineral supplements can help your body get what it needs at this stage, with vitamin B1 being the most important.

Vitamin B1 helps your body process glucose for energy, and a lack of it can cause serious brain conditions, so a supplement can help negate the losses when you are struggling with food.

Alcohol in general makes it harder for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals, so taking them when you stop drinking will help your health improve much more quickly.

Back to Basics – Balanced and Healthy

Since alcohol has such a negative effect on metabolism and absorbing nutrients, even if you consistently ate well while drinking, you will need to eat as well as possible while detoxing and afterwards.

Lean protein, vegetables, wholegrains, and low-fat dairy are all good options, and will help you get your energy and vitality back as quickly as possible.

Book a Free Tour in a Detox Centre Near You

For more information on how we can help you, feel free to call us now on 0800 118 2892 for free advice and guidance on alcohol detox in the UK or beyond, or to arrange a free consultation to see how we can help you.

If you believe you may need inpatient treatment, you can also schedule a tour of our facilities to see what facilities are available at your local centre.

Our Home Detox programme is mostly carried out by yourself at home, but you will need to visit us sometimes during the day for treatments and to check on how you’re progressing.

We are also available by telephone 24/7 during this process for any advice, counselling or help you may need.

For mild alcoholics with a safe home environment and no mental health issues, a home detox can often be all you need to kick the habit.

Our inpatient detox programme is for more serious and urgent alcohol dependency issues. You will have 24/7 support in a relaxed and professional environment designed to maximise the help you receive while reducing stress and allowing you to get the best possible treatment available.

This can last a week or two when immediate progress is made, or up to three months for the most serious issues and people who have struggled with relapsing before. There are also options for a patient to alcohol detox in hospital, but this is becoming more and more rare and typically only for emergency cases.

Regardless of whether you detox at home with us or come to one of our rehab centres, the process will begin with a free consultation. This allows us to learn about your general health, drinking habits, do some tests including blood tests, and discuss which of our treatment options can work best for you.

This is free of charge and obligation free, and you can also have a free tour of one of our rehab centres to check out our top of the range facilities, so call us now on 0800 118 2892 to see what we can do for you!

We also offer full support at all stages of your detox program, so regardless of whether you’re at home or an inpatient with us, we can offer a wide range of therapy sessions, medication for withdrawal symptoms and general checkups to make sure everything is going well.

If you have a drug problem, you may consider drug rehab or drug detox – you can read more about at home drug detox methods.

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