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  • Writer's pictureDr Iqbal A Mohiuddin

Is an Alcohol Detox at Home the Right Choice for Overcoming Alcoholism?

Updated: Apr 15

Drinking alcohol is harmful to our health, especially in excess. Alcohol in moderation, i.e. just 1-2 units daily with alcohol free days, is less harmful. However, regularly drinking more than this can be harmful to our physical and mental health by increasing the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, liver disease, cancer, brain damage, depression, and suicide.

Glasses of wine on a table by a fireplace
Drinking alcohol regularly can lead to Alcoholism

You may be able to drink every day, feel fine physically and mentally, and still manage to function at home and at work. The unhelpful and misleading term “functioning alcoholic” is commonly used. It‘s only when you stop drinking that you realise that you may have developed a serious problem, i.e. physical addiction. In 2019, there were an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers in England.

Many of us get caught out over time and find that we need a daily drink to prevent the awful physical withdrawal symptoms of alcohol addiction. These can include shaking, sweating, panic, nausea, and vomiting. In worst case scenarios, fits, delirium, hallucinations, and death may occur. Always seek urgent medical help in the event of a life-threatening emergency. Never stop drinking alcohol suddenly if you have developed a physical addiction. It's safest to cut down your alcohol intake slowly over time.

If you recognise any of the above, then you would benefit from a private mental health assessment with a psychiatrist. You can discuss all your problems with an addictions specialist and agree on a treatment plan for your recovery. You may be suitable for a supervised alcohol detox at home if you're suffering from mild to moderate alcohol dependence, i.e. drinking less than 30 units of alcohol daily. Severe alcohol dependence, i.e. more than 30 units daily, needs inpatient or residential treatment. Mild to moderate alcohol addiction may be treated safely at home with medications over 7-10 days under daily supervision with a nominated carer.

We have helped many patients to safely reduce and stop drinking alcohol. We had more patients requesting and successfully completing alcohol detox at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. The number of people drinking at harmful levels in the UK increased from 4 million before the lockdown in 2020 to 8 million in 2021. There was also a significant increase in drinking wine and spirits at home, which are more likely to cause harm.

Appropriate aftercare and support, e.g. AA 12-Steps program, SMART Recovery, and addiction therapy, is essential to prevent relapse. Medications such as Acamprosate, Disulfiram, Naltrexone, or Baclofen may help with difficult alcohol cravings, maintaining abstinence, and preventing relapse.

Email or call 0800 779 7800 to discuss how we could help you to recover from alcoholism and improve your physical and mental wellbeing.


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