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Home detox

The following points of information on home alcohol detox are prepared under the supervision of Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist Dr Bruce Trathen MBBS MRCPsych, and Senior Addictions Therapist David Goodlad FRSPH MA Dip. MBACP (Snr. Accred) UKRC NCAC CADC.


Accessing reliable and accurate information on home detox after alcohol abuse can be confusing and time consuming. Triage’s advisors are here to help you make fully informed and accurate decisions. Call 0845 370 0203* for more information.

The first stages of home alcohol detox

All treatment for physical alcohol dependence starts with detoxification from alcohol. Alcohol detox usually means prescribing medication to alleviate alcohol withdrawals. Alcohol detox can be carried out both at home or in a residential alcohol rehab. For home alcohol detox an initial assessment of alcohol dependence is required to ascertain suitability for this type of service.Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening in some circumstances, and the alcohol dependence assessment procedure aims to exclude those for whom the risk of performing an alcohol detox at home is too high.

The advantages of choosing a home detox

  1. Convenience
    No waiting lists and can usually be completed within 7 days. There are no restrictions such as phone/laptop use, that are sometimes found in alcohol treatment centres.
  2. Privacy
    Ultra-discreet and confidential, carried out in your own familiar surroundings.
  3. Support
    Carried out by specialist substance misuse professionals and overseen by our Consultant Psychiatrist. Counselling aftercare is recommended and readily available.

What is home alcohol detox?

Alcohol detoxification involves the prescription of medication to prevent the occurrence of alcohol withdrawal symptoms and to relieve related anxiety. Usually a relatively large starting dose of medication, to help reduce alcohol withdrawals, is prescribed at the beginning of the alcohol detox, and the dose is gradually reduced over a number of days, down to zero.

The home detox is usually completed within 7 days. In the case of medication for alcohol detox at home, the usual first choice of medication is chlordiazepoxide (Librium) or diazepam (Valium). The patient and carer will be visited on a daily basis for the first seven days by a specialist nurse. The assessment is completed during the first visit, and a full explanation of how and when to take the medication during the home detox is provided to both patient and carer.

Detox for alcohol misuse involves the prescription of medication to replace the effect of alcohol on the brain or body. The medication prescribed is sedative, although this does not mean the patient is sent to sleep. While detoxing from alcohol at home, patients are generally awake, albeit slightly drowsy. Other medication is also prescribed during detox to control alcohol withdrawal symptoms as they occur, to help with sleep and to replace vitamin deficiencies which have built up over the years of drinking. Explanation is also provided as to what to expect during the detoxification, any warning signs of complications to look out for and what actions to take if complications seem to be occurring.

Sustained recovery with aftercare

Detoxing from alcohol at home is not a cure for alcoholism. Detox merely allows a person with an alcohol problem to cease alcohol use safely and comfortably. After completion of a detox from alcohol at home, the person must start to learn the skills to avoid relapse to alcohol use. Learning these skills involves psychological treatment, which can be delivered either as an inpatient (rehab) or as an outpatient (counselling). Essentially, detox is about stopping alcohol use and alcohol rehab or alcohol counselling is all about ‘staying stopped’.

All detox programmes offer ten or twenty weekly counselling sessions with a specialist addictions counsellor. This continues the recovery process following the medicated alcohol detox. The alcohol counsellor provided is within reasonable travelling distance from the patient’s home (we work with over 200 alcohol counsellors throughout the UK so we can usually find an alcohol counsellor near to your home).

The attendance of local Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is also advisable, and details of the nearest alcohol help meetings are provided. In some circumstances, additional help to prevent alcohol relapse can be provided by the prescription of specialist medications; these options will be explained by the alcohol detox nurse and for those who wish to receive such medication, a specialist alcohol doctor or nursing appointment is arranged.