Step by step guide to detox
If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink, then you probably need a detox. You can take my alcohol dependence questionnaire here to measure how severe your alcohol dependence is.
Before we start, I will need to ask you some questions about your drinking, your health and your personal circumstances, to decide whether detox is going to be both safe and effective.
Once we've decided on detox, we can set a date to start, and decide who's going to be with you during detox. I'll give everyone detailed written instructions on detoxification. I’ll prescribe your detox medication, which can be picked up from any pharmacy. You stop drinking the night before your first day of detox, not before. You'll need to make plans for any work or child care commitments for the duration of the detox, and arranged who will be around you to help you (and who you need to keep away from you).
On day one you take your first dose of medication first thing in the morning. You then carry on taking doses four times a day. Each day's total dose will be slightly less than the previous day. I usually visit once or more during the first few days, making sure that the amount I've prescribed for you is right. A medication chart is included in your detox pack, which outlines clearly how much of which medication to take, and when. The medication will reduce to zero over 7 to 10 days.
By day four you should be over the worst. Once you're in this second part of the detox, it's a good time to think again about how you can change things so that once you've completed your detox you can stay sober. I'll help you to do this. I’ll also continue to check everything's OK with your health.
At all times I’ll provide telephone support and may breathalyse you when I visit to make sure you haven’t been drinking. This support is very important. People who have specialist support do much better both during and after detox than those who don't.
I always offer aftercare planning and open-ended ad hoc telephone follow-up with my detox plans. This will include lots of advice on how to plan things so that you succeed in the long term. You can always continue seeing me for structured aftercare for as long as you want, but there's no obligation.
In my experience, one of the most common reason for relapse is that people underestimate the importance of aftercare - something structured that helps keep you focussed, supports you, and prevents you from becoming complacent. I have a written programme to guide you, but everything will be structured around your needs.
If you don't need a medicated detox
Not everyone with a drink problem needs detox. In these cases, my structured programme of practical and psychological advice and support can help you to plan the best way to stop drinking, stay stopped, and avoid common pitfalls.