FREE Help & Advice - 0808 163 9632 | Intl: +44(0) 203 1313 416  

What Is Alcohol Detox Like?


An alcohol detox is the process required to help an alcoholic break his or her physical addiction. Many people wonder what is alcohol detox like before making any attempt to get started on a programme of recovery. There is quite a lot of misconception around addiction and the recovery process, with many people fearful of what a detox is going to be like.

There is the belief that a detox will be painful, which can often prevent people who need one from reaching out for help. It is often easier to carry on with the addiction than to actually accept that a detox is inevitable. With this process often being portrayed in a negative light, it is no wonder that so many affected individuals want to know what is alcohol detox like before agreeing to one.

Before You Detox

There is no doubting the fact that alcohol abuse and addiction can be dangerous and can lead to many mental and physical health problems. That being said though, it is equally dangerous for some people to quit alcohol suddenly on their own. Those who have been drinking heavily for a long time should get some expert advice before attempting to quit alcohol for good.

As the process of alcohol detox can be quite complicated depending on how long the person has been addicted, it is important that he or she speak to an experienced doctor or counsellor before getting started.

By calling us here at Addiction.org.uk, we can discuss your situation with you in detail. We will evaluate your drinking habits to determine how severe your illness is, and we will then speak to you about the type of help you might need and whether it is best for you to detox in a supervised facility or detox at home with attendants who will be with you around the clock.

We will also give you an idea of the type of withdrawal symptoms you are likely to experience and how these symptoms can often be eased with the help of medical professionals. It is important that you are fully informed about what to expect before you get started. However, if you want to know more about what alcohol detox is like, read on.

What to Expect During an Alcohol Detox

An alcohol withdrawal can be quite complicated because of how this central nervous system depressant affects almost every cell in the body. The way your detox will progress will depend on how long you have been drinking for and how heavily you drink.

Regardless of where you detox though, you can expect to experience the first signs of withdrawal around six to twelve hours after your last drink. These symptoms will be very similar to those you may have experienced in the past when in need of alcohol and could include mood swings, headaches, nausea, dizziness, sweating, and shaking.

These are the mildest symptoms, but as the detox progresses, you may experience more moderate in intensity symptoms. Some individuals will suffer with severe symptoms, but there is no way to know beforehand which symptoms one will suffer.

During the first days of your detox, you may experience the shakes or jitters. These shakes may be quite mild, or they could be so bad that you are unable to function. You are likely to feel irritable and you may suffer nausea, vomiting and a loss of appetite.

It is likely that you will feel quite tired and in need of rest, but you may be unable to sleep. As your body attempts to get back to normal, it will overcompensate for the lack of alcohol and various functions may go into overdrive. This could result in you experience a rapid pulse and high blood pressure.

Around a quarter of those who detox from alcohol will experience hallucinations, which tend to occur one to two days after the last drink. Hallucinations can make you feel as if you are seeing and hearing things that are not there. Although hallucinations are not serious on their own, they can be quite frightening.

What are Delirium Tremens

Some individuals will experience very severe symptoms that include seizures and convulsions. These can occur any time from six hours to three days after the last drink, but they usually happen around the second day. In a supervised facility, seizures and convulsions can usually be prevented with medication.

Nevertheless, some people will experience what are known as the DTs – delirium tremens. Although this series of complex changes to the nervous system and brain tend to occur around two to three days after the last drink, in some, they can appear during the second week of the detox. A delay usually occurs in those who have been abusing both alcohol and certain drugs.

People who experience the DTs will usually suffer with severe versions of the mild symptoms. For example, they will experience vivid hallucinations or delusions and may also experience severe sweating and shaking. Other symptoms include rapid heartbeat, raised temperature, high blood pressure, irritability, and insomnia. The DTs are always treated as a medical emergency because, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Where to Detox?

Most people who want to overcome an alcohol detox will require a detox as most people who are addicted to alcohol will have a physical addiction as well as a psychological one. The detox process is designed to separate the individual from alcohol before he or she can begin a programme of rehabilitation that will enable them to move forward to a substance-free life.

You have the choice of detoxing at home or in a supervised facility. Addiction.org.uk always recommends a detox in a dedicated facility because we believe this is the safest and most comfortable way to break the cycle of addiction.

That being said, there are those who want to quit alcohol in the comfort of their own homes with the people they love around them. So, should you detox at home?

Before you decide whether you would like to detox at home, there are a few things you need to consider. An alcohol detox can be complicated and there is no way to tell what type of symptoms you will experience before the process begins. It is best to detox in a supervised facility in terms of ensuring your safety, and you should definitely consider this option if:

  • you have any underlying medical health problems such as liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, lung problems or hepatitis C
  • you have severe depression or have had suicidal thoughts in the past
  • you have been drinking heavily for many years
  • you have already suffered severe withdrawal symptoms when in need of alcohol
  • you have previously suffered convulsions or seizures.

If you do decide to detox at home, you will need to make sure that you are supervised at all times. This will mean getting more than one person to agree to take shifts looking after you. A detox usually lasts for between one and two weeks and you will need to be supervised 24-hours a day.

If you decide that you would prefer to detox in a supervised facility, you will be monitored throughout the process by fully trained and experienced individuals who can make you more comfortable and ease any discomfort you may be experiencing.

A carefully supervised detox can ensure that the worst symptoms are prevented and can mean that your risk of complications is extremely low. If appropriate, a medical professional will administer medication to help ease any symptoms you might experience. This medication will be provided in doses that are reduced over a number of days until you are through the worst of the detox.

Nutritional supplements will also be administered, which can help reduce the risk of seizures, convulsions, and the DTs.

The Importance of an Alcohol Detox

An alcohol detox is a very important part of the recovery process because it is essential that patients have a clear mind and body before attempting to get started on rehabilitation. The fear of what alcohol detox is like can prevent some individuals from accessing a recovery process, but it is vital that those who are affected overcome this fear in order to get their life back on track once more.

If alcohol addiction affects you, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. The detox process should not be feared. In a supervised facility, you can get the help you need to beat your physical addiction; you may find that it is not as bad as you expect.

Recovery from alcohol addiction is vital for those who want to start enjoying their lives once more. If you continue to abuse alcohol, you are almost certainly going to find your situation deteriorating. You may already be noticing that your health is suffering because of your abuse of alcohol, but the longer you carry on in this vein, the worse these problems are likely to become.

Alcohol is linked to hundreds of different illness and affects both mental and physical health. In the early days, you might not notice anything too troubling but as time goes by, you will likely suffer with problems that could even become life-threatening.

Other areas of your life could also be affected, including your relationships with others. It is likely that your behaviour while under the influence of alcohol is having a negative impact on other people in your life. This could include family members, friends, and work colleagues.

To get things back on an even keel, you will need to commit to a programme of recovery, which will include an alcohol detox. A detox is just the first step on the road to recovery and forms a vital part of the process.

If you would like more information on alcohol detox and what you can expect, please get in touch with us at Addiction.org.uk. We can provide you with helpful advice and information on addiction and how to overcome it for good.

Our advisors are ready and willing to take your call and answer any queries you may have. Please call today on our dedicated helpline or get in touch with us via this website and we will call you.

Get Into
REHAB in
24 Hours


We'll Call You




WE ACCEPT MOST MAJOR PRIVATE HEALTH INSURERS

close help
Who am I calling?

Calls will be answered by admissions at UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step

0808 163 9632