7 Sobriety Rewards You’ll Never Regret

Posted on by Melany Heger


These seven rewards of sobriety are felt as soon as a month after the decision to quit alcohol or illicit drugs.

Behavioural experts agree that in medium to long-term sobriety, which lasts from 3 months to several years, individuals begin to develop new habits.

Mental and emotional health becomes more robust as the individual becomes a more mature person.

Meaningful Connections

In rehab, there is emphasis on attending meetings after the period of staying in the facility is over.

It is emphasised again and again, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection.”


It has become an accepted truth that one of lures of addictive substances is its power to obliterate hard-to-face emotions, especially those that require interacting with other persons.


Alcohol is widely known as a social lubricant. Drugs have been used to avoid painful human interactions.

These substances have been used to mask discomfort, especially in social situations.

Ingesting them can help a person become smoother in conversation, being more at ease even when tense.


When sober, social tension is something that a person has to deal with. It may become apparent that without the drink or drug, the relationship dynamic needs to change.

Or the relationship has to be let go altogether. Some persons who begin their sober living journeys are able to let go of toxic relationships, in order to have healthier ones.


Courageous Stance in Life

Individuals start to adopt a more courageous stance in life after sobriety because they have to face the wreckage their addiction has caused. Facing the truth is painful.

It is punctuated with missed events, memory lapses, recollections of things full of regret.


When a person realises that there is a series of things left neglected because of addiction, the feeling might be overwhelming.

However, once the commitment has been made to change, tacking the long list of tasks to correct becomes a therapeutic endeavour—especially if the person is emotionally supported.


It may be tempting to turn away from the pain once again, but to continue along the path of oblivion is not real living.

Individuals who decide to begin sober living do not want to go through the motions of living. Instead, no matter how painful, these individuals soldier on.


Setting Personal Boundaries

Your life as a person with addiction can be described as haphazard. At one point in time, this indiscriminate way of living and doing thing could be described as fun.

But after experiencing the stability (usually while in detox and rehab), something in you changed.


It does seem to feel better when there are schedules to follow, rules to adhere to, and personal boundaries to observe.

Because addiction is an all-or-nothing experience, many persons with addiction have found themselves at the bottom of the barrel, holding on to the last dregs of self-respect.


It takes a while to learn self-respect again. After being the worse version of yourself, admitting you have gone real low, it takes a while to let go of hating yourself.

When you set personal boundaries you are basically creating self-protective measures—and these measures are expressions of self-care.


Developing Empathy and Compassion

Once you get in touch with the worse parts of yourself and you’ve started working on self-forgiveness, you begin to forgive others too. Addiction can have its roots in trauma and adverse childhood experiences.

These negative experiences can include neglect and abuse, often by persons who were supposed to show love and kindness.


Individuals who are overwhelmed with pain usually do not have the capacity for compassion. It is not selfishness, it is mere survival. In this light, the addiction was the most logical way to cope with the emotional and mental anguish.


But once the pain abates as the person becomes better at coping with stress without substances, empathy begins to take root.

You get to appreciate the little things your loved ones did for while you were in recovery, how they treated you kindly, with little judgement. How they were there in your lowest points. You would like to return that given grace.


Emotional Resilience

Moodiness, irritability, easily angered, glum all the time. Some of these words describe the emotional states of emotional instability. In mental health literature, it is a stated fact that persons with alcohol and/or drug use problems have emotional problems alongside.


Particularly, these emotional problems refer to mood regulation. Some individuals have depression, some have anxiety, and some have other conditions such as bipolar mood disorder. There is an assertion that the use of substances was an effort to self-medicate.


If a person sought professional help for addiction issues, moods can be regulated with the help of psychotherapeutic techniques and medication.

It’s not a one-size-fits all solution, but most persons who have emotional problems and substance abuse problems do get better.


Being able to let small things slide, picking up the pieces after an emotional blow, coping with changes quickly, not taking things personally. These are the words that  describe an emotionally stable personality.


Increased Patience

From emotional resilience comes increased patience. You learn to wait, and know you will have your turn.

Having learned the initial steps of sobriety, a person begins to build a fund for accepting the unknown, and with acceptance, there is patience instead of overwhelming distress.

Discussed in the next benefit is one of the hardest qualities to develop related to embracing the unknown.


Tolerance for Ambiguity/ Uncertainty

Addiction is dependence on an outer source of power. To get you through the day, the night, something is needed. Relying on yourself seems unstable, uncertain. To fill in the gaps, you need the substance.


During recovery, individuals learn techniques to live with the uncertain parts of life. These uncertain parts, these questions, usually trigger fear.

And it is this fear that drives the desperation to cling on to the chosen addiction, be it alcohol, illicit drugs, or certain negative behaviours.


As ambiguity becomes something that can be tolerated, the fear it triggers lessens. The insecurity dissipates in time.

Having sure footing even if the path is unsure, even if you do not know where is heading is one of the best feelings a person can have. This is especially true when the unfamiliar previously meant danger and harm.


Drug Types FAQ

Posted on by Melany Heger

What Are The 4 Types Of Drugs?

In terms of the four types of drugs most commonly abused in the UK, these are: Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, and Ampethapmines. [1]

In terms of the four groups of drugs classifed according to their major effects, these are: stimulants, depresants, opioids, and hallucinogens.

Another way of classifying drugs uses the Drugs Wheel model [2].


The Drugs Wheel replaces the 4 types of drugs with 7 categories.

These 7 types of drugs are: [3]


  • >> Desired effects: Can make a person feel relaxed or euphoric (high)
  • >> Negative effects: distorted recognition of things seen, heard or felt; poor body coordination; memory; difficulty paying attention
  • >> Examples of drugs: Cannabis (Marijuana, Hash, Skunk); Synthetic Cannabis (Spice)



  • >> Desired effects: Can make a person feel more awake or alert; increases energy
  • >> Negative effects: Aggressiveness, fearfulness, and paranoid feelings.
  • >> Examples of drugs: methamphetamine (Ice), cocaine, amphetamines (Adderall; Dexedrine)



  • >> Desired effects: Feeling “loved and connected”; sexual arousal
  • >> Negative effects: low feelings 2-5 days later, careless behaviour (especially sexual behaviour), dehydration
  • >> Examples of drugs: MDMA (Ecstacy), Mephedrone (Meow meow), Ethylone


Hallucinogens or Psychedelics

  • >> Desired effects: Euphoria, feeling relaxed, feeling spriritually connected
  • >> Negative effects: Upsetting hallucinations (seeing/experiencing things that are not factually present), high level of anxiety
  • >> Examples of drugs: LSD, Psilocybin (Magic Mushroom), Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)



  • >> Desired effects: Euphoria, feeling disconnected from self, can cause relaxation, has a calming effect
  • >> Negative effects: Panic attacks; abnormal sense of smell and taste; disturbing hallucinations
  • >> Examples of drugs: Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas), Ketamine, Methoxetamine (MXE)



  • >> Desired effects: Can relieve anxiety, has a calming effect
  • >> Negative effects: Can cause confusion, slurred speech, and lack of body coordination
  • >> Examples of drugs: Alcohol, benzodiazepines (Valium), GHB (often referred to as a “date rape” or “chemsex” drug)



  • >> Desired effects: Relieves pain, euphoria
  • >> Negative effects: Dependence and/or tolerance to prescription painkillers means the person needs more of the drug just to feel normal; high risk of fatal overdose
  • >> Examples of drugs: Buprenorphine, Methadone, Oxycodone, Codeine, Fentanyl, Morphine, Opioid Medications



Using the 7 types of Drugs in the Drugs Wheel, it is most useful to health care professionals [4].

Proper classification of drugs according to their major effects helps professionals quickly assess an emergency situation.

In times when overdose or drug complications and/or adverse interactions are suspected, prompt action is needed.



Harm strategies can also be formulated by consulting the Drugs Wheel. These harm reduction strategies include:

  • >> Needle distribution and/or recovery programs
  • >> Substitution therapies like Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program and Heroin Assisted Treatment
  • >> Take-home naloxone (overdose kit) program
  • >> Outreach and education services to encourage safer drug use behaviour
  • >> Drink Driving prevention campaigns



The Drugs Wheel was created in 2012 in response to the popularity of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), mistakenly labelled as “Legal Highs”.

NPS or “Legal High” drugs were often marketed as “not safe for human consumption”.

Synthetic cannabinoid addiction more commonly known as Fake Weed/ or Spice Addiction poses a significant threat to the public, especially the young adult population. [5]


What Are Some Examples Of Prescription Drugs?

Co-codamol (for pain), Citalopram Hydrobromide (anti-depressant), and Diazepam or Valium (anti-anxiety) are the three most common prescription drugs in the UK [6].

Prescription drugs are given after a health care practitioner follows the following steps: [7]

Definition of the person’s health care problem (also called diagnosis)

Specifying the therapeutic objective – these can be: [8]

  • >> Promoting health
  • >> Preventive care
  • >> Treatment of the condition
  • >> Rehabilitation (support for recovery from illness)
  • >> Palliative care
  • >> Choosing a treatment that is known as effective and safe

Starting the treatment

Writing a prescription (script) for medicines

Providing the individual with the health concern the answers to the following questions:  [7]

  • >> 1. What are the effects of the drug?
  • >> 2. What are the possible side effects?
  • >> 3. What are the specific instructions?
  • >> 4. Are there warnings about the drug?
  • >> 5. When is the next/ future consultation?
  • >> 6. Is everything clear about the instructions?



For clarity, health care authorities need to make sure that persons seeking their care understand the essential information about the drug.

Sometimes, health care personnel ask individuals under their care to repeat the crucial information because it is believed that by saying it out loud, the person has processed the information correctly.



After prescribing medicines, health care practitioners are instructed to:

  • >> Monitor the results of the drug used as a therapeutic measure
  • >> Determine when the person has improved and needs to stop using the drug
  • >> Discern whether there is a need to change dosage, drug type, or intake regimen



The follow-up session with the health care practitioner is designed to facilitate the evaluation of the health status of the individual.

Skipping the process or self-medicating is not recommended.

Likewise, if there are signs of psychological dependence on prescription medicines, the health care practitioner must be alerted.



During the follow-up session, the health care practitioner should be able to tell if:

  • >> Treatment is effective
  • >> Treatment is ineffective



In the US, there are government efforts to curb the unnecessary prescription of opioid painkillers, as these are considered highly addictive. [9]

In the UK, the use of opioid painkillers is tightly regulated. [10]


Although the country is not as seriously affected as the US in terms of the so-called opioid epidemic, prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers have increased significantly for the past few years. [10]

The top selling prescription medicines in the UK are: [6]

  • >> Codeine (Co-codamol) – for pain (headaches/migraines, muscular pain, toothache)
  • >> Citalopram Hydrobromide – for depression and panic disorder
  • >> Amitriptyline Hydrochloride – for pain and migraine



In addition, morphine and morphine-like painkillers, called opioid painkillers are also increasingly prescribed [11].

Examples of opioid pain killers are Tramadol, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.


These painkillers are proven effective in treating the following conditions: [12].

  • >> Orthopaedic pain (for pain affecting the knee, hips, ankles, shoulders, hand and spine)
  • >> Dental conditions
  • >> Upper and lower back pain
  • >> Headaches and/or migraines
  • >> Cancer pain (especially breakthrough pain)
  • >> Post-operative pain



Although proven effective, using opioid painkillers can be addictive [11].

Individuals who develop a problem using opioid medications can detox safely in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare to prevent risky withdrawal symptoms.

What Are Examples Of Drugs?

Examples of drugs used for recreational purposes, often illegally, are cocaine, heroin, cannabis (marijuana), diazepam (Valium), and Etizolam.

These drugs are the most common type of drugs seized by law authorities in Scotland. [13]


Behaviourists argue that the problematic use of illicit drugs is rooted in trauma, particularly adverse childhood experiences. [14]

For some individuals, the first step of recovery is by going through a detox programme in a reputable rehab clinic like Abbeycare Gloucester.

Therapists and addiction experts believe that using drugs became a valid coping mechanism to deal with stress.


Usually, the connection between stress relief/coping and drug use was made when the individual was most vulnerable.

It is highly possible that drug dependence/misuse is a symptom, and not the major problem the individual is experiencing.

By learning better ways to cope, becoming emotionally conversant, and building resilience, a person can break free from addiction.


Such new skills, self-insight, and understanding are best learned in psychotherapy.

Abbeycare Rehab Scotland incorporates psychotherapeutic lessons covering these topics in its residential drug and alcohol rehab programmes.


Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment: The Issue of Negative Experiences

Updated approaches in addiction treatment acknowledge the fact that drug misuse could be a symptom of: [14]

  • >> Traumatic experiences
  • >> Physical Abuse
  • >> Sexual Abuse
  • >> Emotional Abuse
  • >> Parental neglect
  • >> Abandonment
  • >> Social disapproval/ rejection/ bullying


These experiences are best explored in a structured environment with a counsellor or behavioural expert.

Issues surrounding these experiences tend to bring up strong emotions.

Under emotional stress, a person who is prone to misuse drugs can worsen, using the substance more as a way to cope.


The reason why exploring these deep-impact issues is done in a structured environment is to provide support.

Professional help can be crucial in gently nudging a person towards life-long recovery.

Additionally, effective therapeutic measures involve commitment, bolstered by family and community support.


When a treatment centre focuses on holistic care, there should be an emphasis on after-care provisions.

After-care means individuals in recovery must maintain their connections with supportive persons via attending Mutual Support Group meetings and/or continual communication.


Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment: Childhood and Family Matters

One of the major issues connected to adult drug misuse is the experience of negative childhood experiences.

When a person grows up with adverse childhood conditions, these conditions have a long-lasting impact.

If the child’s environment is one where the use of alcohol and/or drugs is accepted as a valid way to cope, the chance that the child will misuse addictive substances greatly increases.


Further, persons whose parents are heavy users of alcohol and/or illicit substances can inherit the genes predisposing a person to substance abuse.

But inheriting the tendency for alcohol and/or drug misuse is not destiny itself.


Some mitigating of the tendency to use addictive substances are: [15]

  • >> Psychoeducation in proactive schools or communities
  • >> Preventive actions by concerned individuals and/or significant others
  • >> Positive social influences or role models
  • >> The individual’s conscious decision to steer clear of addictive substances
  • >> Strong self-control as a behavioural or personal trait


Because nobody wants to be burdened with passing on the negative legacy of addiction, strategies for parents who have substance abuse issues include: [15]

  • >> Parental monitoring and supervision
  • >> Authoritative rule-setting
  • >> Monitoring youths’ activities
  • >> Praise for appropriate use of so-called gateway substances (cigarettes and/or alcohol)
  • >> Consistent discipline
  • >> Logic-based and empathy-based family rules




  1.   European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2019). United Kingdom Country Drug Report. Available at: http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/countries/drug-reports/2019/united-kingdom/drug-use_en
  2.   Scottish Drug Forum. (2019). The Drugs Wheel: A new model for substance awareness. Available at: http://www.thedrugswheel.com/downloads/TheDrugsWheelLeaflet2_0.pdf
  3.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Want to Know More? Some FAQs about Marijuana. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens/want-to-know-more-some-faqs-about-marijuana
  4.   Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2019). Drug Wheel. Available at: https://adf.org.au/insights/drug-wheel/
  5.   Barnes, T. (2018, 29 August). Spice should be upgraded to Class A drug, say police and crime commissioners. The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/spice-class-a-drug-classification-police-commissioners-legal-highs-effects-law-britain-a8513681.html
  6.   Mattews, S. (2018). A nation of pill poppers: Record 1.1 BILLION prescriptions written in 2017 as figures reveal the 20 most popular drugs but critics slam the NHS for spending millions on paracetamol. Daily Mail Online. Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5505639/NHS-figures-reveal-20-drugs-dished-most.html
  7.  World Health Organization – WHO. (2010). Guide to Good Prescribing: A practical Manual. Available at: https://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/pdf/whozip23e/whozip23e.pdf
  8.  University Van Pretoria. Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC). Available at: https://www.up.ac.za/media/shared/62/COPC/copc_principles02.zp55893.pdf
  9.  Nat National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2016). Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/misuse-prescription-drugs/overview
  10.  Britton, R. (2019, September 10). The UK is dangerously close to having a full-blown opioid crisis. Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/opioid-crisis-addiction-drugs-prescription-addaction-tramadol-depression-a9099071.html
  11.  Owens, B. (2015, June 11). Tackling prescription drug abuse. The Pharmaceutical Journal. https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/features/tackling-prescription-drug-abuse/20068685.article?firstPass=false
  12.  Janakiram, C. et al. (2019). Opioid Prescriptions for Acute and Chronic Pain Management Among Medicaid Beneficiaries. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 57(3), 365-373. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.04.022. Available at: https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(19)30216-8/pdf
  13.  Scottish Publci Health Observatory. (2016). Drug misuse: availability and prevalence. Available at: https://www.scotpho.org.uk/behaviour/drugs/data/availability-and-prevalence
  14.  Hart, C. L. (2016). Prioritize People and their Complexities Over Drugs. [Powerpoint Slides].http://www.sdf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Carl-Hart-.pdf
  15.  National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2001). Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents. Available at: https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/redbook_0.pdf

Rehab Clinic FAQ

Posted on by Melany Heger

What Is The Purpose Of A Rehabilitation Centre?

The main goal of a rehabilitation centre is to enable a person to live a sober lifestyle by completing treatment in a residential, supported, and supervised environment.

This goal can be achieved by:

  • >> Learning new behaviours
  • >> Understanding the motivations behind addiction
  • >> Professionally assisted detox
  • >> Evidence-based therapy and counselling


The rehab process helps individuals achieve the goals of rehab.

The process of rehab comes in four phases. These are: [1]

  • Phase One – Assessment
  • Phase Two – Detoxification
  • Phase Three – Rehabilitation
  • Phase Four – Maintenance or Aftercare



In the health care profession, the term “rehabilitation” encompasses intensive measures to help a person recuperate from serious injury or harm [2].

Under this context, “Alcohol Rehabilitation” and “Drug Rehabilitation” can be understood as intensive, supervised regimens or schedules.


Activities in rehab programs are specifically designed by experts to:

  • >> Lessen the negative impact of alcohol and/or substance abuse – help with withdrawal symptoms
  • >> Assist in the transition period – from a compromised state of health to a more balanced state of being
  • >> Normalise the transition period by providing psychosocial support –through encouragement, companionship and communicating genuine concern



It is understood that individuals attending rehab are in the centre for many reasons, most of these reasons are particular to the individual, and may not be easy to explain.

However, persons who seek treatment in rehab generally want to get better.


Trusting the rehab centre to provide them quality care possible, they expect positive outcomes such as:

  • >> New ways to cope with life’s demands (without alcohol and/or drugs)
  • >> Lower relapse rate
  • >> Continuing aftercare support
  • >> A better chance of sober living, as rehab is not an instant cure


What Type Of Care Does A Rehabilitation Facility Provide?

A rehab facility usually provides residential care, where individuals stay for a fixed amount of time.

Some rehabs also provide out-patient care; and some rehabs are halfway or sober living houses.

A rehab clinic like Abbeycare Scotland work closely with community-based programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, and other recovery groups.


While most individuals go to rehab to experience structured care, some opt to stay for the detox programme only.

For persons who go for “Detox Only”, the programme consists of:

  • >> Monitoring of withdrawal symptoms
  • >> Availability of health care assistance
  • >> Treatments to ease symptoms (prescribed by health care workers)


Most reputable rehab centres will recommend a stay of at least 28 days.

A 28-day stay means a person does not just drug or alcohol detox. S/he is also given the opportunity to learn new skills in a safe and supportive environment.

In some instances when a person has a mild case of alcohol and/or substance use problem, a rehab centre can offer home detox treatment.


In the UK, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rates residential rehabs according to how well the facility provides care.

Dependable rehab facilities make sure that standards are maintained throughout the whole process of rehab.

A rehab that gives quality care should: [3]

  • >> Provide person-centred care
  • >> Treat clients with dignity and respect
  • >> Watch out for clients’ privacy, safety, and security
  • >> Be transparent in dealings with clients
  • >> Must have adequate equipment
  • >> Must have well-trained and competent staff



A clinic rated as “Good” such as Abbeycare can capably assist persons to live a sober life.

In order to help a person kick the habit of alcohol or drug misuse for good, a rehab facility would usually encourage clients to go for a full programme, and not just “a quick detox”.

It scientifically proven that by going through the four phases of rehab, persons will be able to make profound changes about their relationship with alcohol and/or drugs [4].


Alcohol and drug addiction can be treated, but because addiction is a chronic disease with a lifestyle component, treatment needs to be: [4]

  • >> Comprehensively designed
  • >> Professionally managed
  • >> Take special care of “first timers” as a good first encounter with rehab prevents relapse
  • >> Watches out for the long-term recovery of the client
  • >> Has provisions for long-term/repeated care in case of serious cases


It is unrealistic to expect a person to fully recover from addiction just because s/he stopped using the substance for a short while, especially without professional support.


What Are Different Types Of Rehab?

In terms of Alcohol Rehab and Drug Rehab, the types of rehab are Inpatient/ Residential and Outpatient Rehab.

Inpatient or Residential Rehab refers to a type of care where the client is prescribed a set number of days, staying in the facility to receive treatment and participate in therapeutic activities.

Whereas Outpatient Rehab is a type of care where clients come to the clinic in scheduled times for less-intensive forms of treatment.


Inpatient or Residential Rehab tends to benefit all levels of alcohol and/or substance abuse conditions, while Outpatient Rehab is more suited to persons with fewer symptoms [5].

The term “rehab” can also mean “Rehabilitation Therapy”, which encompasses the disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Physical Therapy, among other similar practices.

In the field of health care, the term “rehabilitation” is aimed at assisting persons to function as well as they can after a serious injury or illness.


It is apt to designate alcohol and drug use problems in the realm of rehabilitative care, as problems with alcohol and drug use are health concerns.

It is considered best practice to treat individuals who have alcohol and/or substance problems with open-minded understanding that these conditions are caused by factors outside their control.

Seeking help for alcohol and/or substance concerns is seen as a positive step as being ready to change is already taxing to an individual with this type of burden.


Additionally, individuals with alcohol and/or substance to be triggered when stressed [6].

Deciding to go enter rehab can be considered stressful, as the decision can instigate a number of lifestyle changes.

To help persons who are new to the process of recovery, a rehab clinic should be able to:

  • >> Gently but firmly introduce new habits
  • >> Put in place procedures so that the person knows where to go and what to do when s/he has reached their limits
  • >> Help clients identify their weaknesses and strengths
  • >> Utilise a treatment plan answer the characteristic needs of the client
  • >> Carefully map out an after-rehab strategy.


Generally speaking, though the NHS provides inpatient programs for free, admission to a private rehab clinic like Abbeycare causes less hassle.

In general, private rehab care can be more accommodating to clients, with the added advantage of providing continuous and personalised care.


What’s An Inpatient Programme?

An inpatient programme is a structured program designed to help a person overcome alcohol and/or drug addiction problems.

An inpatient programme offers detox, therapy and rehab aftercare as a complete package, whereas an outpatient program can be limited to counselling services only.


A residential rehab programme can be held in a government-run healthcare facility or in a private rehab centre.

An example of a private rehab centre that offers residential programmes to recover from alcohol and/or drug addiction is Abbeycare Clinic, with two locations in Scotland and Gloucester.

What Is Outpatient Counselling?

Outpatient counselling is done when a person who has alcohol and/or drug addiction problems chooses to deal with the concern outside a residential rehab centre or outside an inpatient programme.

Outpatient counselling generally means attending Mutual Support Group Meetings.

Outpatient counselling is not the full treatment for alcohol and/or drug addiction problems.


However, since outpatient counselling is usually free of charge, this is the go-to measure for persons who have financial issues with the cost of private rehab.

The most popular groups that offer outpatient counselling in the UK are: [7]

  • >> Alcoholics Anonymous
  • >> Narcotics Anonymous
  • >> SMART Recovery
  • >> Addaction
  • >> Adfam
  • >> Release
  • >> Smart Recovery
  • >> DrugFAM


In the public health care system, outpatient counselling is part of the recommended treatment for those who seek help from addiction problems.

A local drug centre will usually provide a client needed medications, then refer the client to a Mutual Support Group meeting.

A case worker from the local drug centre typically manages the case of the client, tacking the client’s progress as s/he tries to overcome addiction concerns.


However, keeping track of a person’s progress from attending outpatient counselling sessions can be tricky.

Because feedback is usually one-sided, a case worker may not get the most accurate information about how the client is progressing.


Two of the key factors of success in recovery are: [6]

  • >> Support – means social support, financial support, and encouragement
  • >> Structure – means an orderly routine to stick to where a person is compelled to follow


These two key elements may not be optimal in outpatient counselling, where attendance is usually voluntary and not monitored strictly.

Another way in which outpatient counselling is used is when it is an add-on to a long-term recovery program.

Some individuals who undergo an Inpatient or Residential Program are guided towards using outpatient counselling for three to six months, until they are more likely to withstand the challenges of recovery.


As part of a long-term treatment for alcohol and/or substance abuse, outpatient counselling can help anchor a person to their fundamental decision to stay sober.

There is weighty evidence to show that outpatient counselling benefits persons who are have already begun the process of change—the social aspect of outpatient counselling can be considered in this sense as the most valuable aspect [8].



  1.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii
  2.   Medline Plus. (2016). Rehabilitation Also called: Rehab. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/rehabilitation.html
  3.   Care Quality Commission. The fundamental standards. Availale at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/what-we-do/how-we-do-our-job/fundamental-standards
  4.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction
  5.   Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – SAMHSA-US. (2006). Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64094/
  6.   Fournier, D. (2017, December 11). Fundamental Factors of Success in Addiction Recovery. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfully-present-fully-alive/201712/fundamental-factors-success-in-addiction-recovery
  7. NHS. (2019). Alcohol support. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/
  8. Lopez, G. (2018, January 2). Why some people swear by Alcoholics Anonymous — and others despise it. Vox. Available at: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/2/16181734/12-steps-aa-na-studies

Alcohol Withdrawal FAQ

Posted on by Melany Heger

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

To stage an intervention, set an appropriate time and place, prepare the r

Expect alcohol withdrawal symptoms to last an average of 5 days. [1]

Heavy consumption of alcohol and long-term alcohol use are both linked to longer withdrawal times.


Generally speaking, withdrawal symptoms do not feel good.

But with proper information and support, unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be overcome.

Common withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are:

  • >> Shaking/ tremors
  • >> Nausea/ vomiting
  • >> Insomnia
  • >> Anxiety
  • >> Headaches
  • >> Excessive sweating



More serious withdrawal symptoms include those that point towards:

  • >> Delirium Tremens (“the DTs”)
  • >> Epilepsy (including tonic-clonic seizures that are described as similar to epilepsy)
  • >> Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, and otherwise sensing things that are not really present)
  • >> “Wet Brain” or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome



Formally, the condition associated with alcohol withdrawal is called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). [2]

The AWS condition ranges from Mild, Moderate, or Severe.

Health care professionals diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) using a scale called CIWA-Ar, blood tests, and sometimes a toxicology procedure.


A mild case of AWS usually determined when the person has a low collective score in the categories defined by diagnostic tests.

A moderate case of AWS means the person is at risk of developing serious symptoms, and it would be best if they seek professional care.


A severe case of AWS is where a person experiences Delirium Tremens. DT is suspected when there is:  [3]

  • >> Mental Confusion
  • >> Hallucinations
  • >> Feeling disoriented/lost even in familiar everyday surroundings
  • >> Difficulty thinking and reason clearly
  • >> Long-term problems with memory about present events and past events



With severe cases of AWS, detoxing without professional support is not recommended as the risks are grave.

Individuals who have a serious case of AWS have a 4 to 6.6% fatality rate compared to persons who have milder cases. [4]

In addition, it is well recognized that professionally supervised detox contributes to a better outcome than detoxing alone [4].

However mild the case, withdrawal from alcohol use poses some risks, especially if there are signs that Delirium Tremens can happen.


Delirium Tremens is usually associated with heavy drinking that has gone on for many years [3].

Delirium Tremens can develop 1 to 4 days in the most vulnerable individuals.

Because alcohol withdrawal can be stressful, some individuals even if they do not have AWS, opt to go to a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare Scotland to detox from alcohol.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

An average of 5 days is the usual amount of time some alcohol withdrawal symptoms last. [1]

A typical time-line for alcohol withdrawal symptoms is presented below. [2]

Days 0 to 1

  • >> Anxious feelings
  • >> Irritability
  • >> Sleeplessness
  • >> Headaches/Migraines
  • >> Stomach upsets
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Loss of appetite
  • >> Insomnia

Days 1 to 2

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> High temperature/ Fever
  • >> Nausea/Vomiting
  • >> Difficulty sleeping and staying asleep


Days 2 to 3

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> With some individuals signs of Delirium Tremens
  • >> High blood pressure
  • >> Heart is beating too fast
  • >> Difficulty sleeping and staying asleep


Days 4 to 5

  • >> By this time, the person may be feeling fewer headaches/stomach upsets/ flu-like symptoms.
  • >> But for some individuals, signs of Delirium Tremens may happen
  • >> With persons who have signs of the DTs, it is recommended to seek expert care


Delirium Tremens can cause health complications and even pose a risk to life.


In addition, alcohol addiction can co-occur with the following health conditions. These are: [5]

  • >> Anxiety and mood problems (particularly for women)
  • >> Other substance use problems like smoking and illegal drug use (particularly for men)
  • >> Liver damage
  • >> Neurologic (brain-related) impairment that shows up as blurred vision, slowed speech, and unbalanced stance when walking
  • >> Various cancers



Diseases that happen along with alcohol use and abuse can make recovery a long-time endeavour necessitating support from experienced care providers.

Because recovery is not just about taking a pill or attending a group meeting, experts cite the full use of a system that tackles the problem holistically.


Dealing with alcohol problems in a whole-person approach means:

  • >> Promoting wellness of the mind, body, and spirit/psyche
  • >> Thinking of Sober Living as a lifestyle instead of a quick-fix solution
  • >> Addressing issues of alcohol misuse by restoring balance in a person’s different life aspects
  • >> Focusing on long-term recovery and/or abstinence



In a clinic that uses a holistic approach such as Abbeycare Gloucester, these goals are achieved by having the following Holistic Care services available:

  • >> Nutritionally balanced diet – as long-term alcohol use depletes the body of essential nutrients [1]
  • >> Exercise – wards of depressive and anxiety-causing thoughts during the withdrawal phase of treatment [6]
  • >> Massage therapy – to encourage body-focus and body-awareness
  • >> Acupuncture – can help ease sensitivity to pain as well as some anxiety symptoms when a person is going through alcohol detox [7]
  • >> Relaxation techniques – such as guided meditation can help a person manage moods and increase mental focus [6]


Alongside established therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioural Techniques and 12 Step Facilitation, these alternative methods can boost a person’s chancer of fully recovering from alcohol addiction [6].

How Do You Stay Sober?

A person who wants to stay sober can benefit from learning behavioural techniques usually taught in 12 Step Facilitation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Learning techniques from these proven systems promote long-term abstinence from alcohol. [8]

Whereas, the cold turkey approach can be detrimental to a person’s chances of recovery because it sets the stage for the kindling phenomenon to occur. [9]


The kindling phenomenon is explained using an illustration here:

  • >> A person tries to do quit alcohol abruptly without other forms of support (like therapy or professionally supervised alcohol detox)
  • >> After a brief period of sobriety, the person relapses and goes back to drinking
  • >> The next time the person tries to quit alcohol again, withdrawal symptoms become worse.
  • >> The person is discouraged to quit from alcohol because the withdrawal symptoms are horrible.


Experts agree that if abstaining from alcohol is experienced negatively, especially if the withdrawal symptoms are severe, the less likely the person will stay sober [10].

Is Alcohol Use Disorder The Same As Alcoholism?

Yes. Alcoholism is the layman’s term for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

The terms “alcoholism” and “alcoholics” are regarded as derogatory. [11]

Health care professionals diagnose a person with AUD depending on several tests.


Mostly, a person who has AUD tends to have:

  • >> Physical signs of withdrawal when alcohol use is stopped
  • >> Psychological dependence on alcohol
  • >> Co-occurring health problems such as liver disease


In Scotland, the increasing numbers of alcohol-related accidents and deaths have alarmed officials. [12]

A change in policy increased the price of non-branded value bottles with the intention to discourage AUD affected persons to buy large amounts of alcohol for cheap a price. [12]

So far, it is suggested that making alcohol less accessible can help AUD affected individuals make better choices about alcohol.

But experts still agree that a comprehensive plan involving alcohol rehabilitation is the best route to recovery from AUD [8].


What Happens To Your Liver When You Stop Drinking?

The liver of a person who stops drinking alcohol will likely recover from the first stage of liver disease. However, if the person has a moderate to serious case of liver disease, professional help is needed in order to fully recuperate [13].

The liver is partly responsible for removing toxins from the body.

Alcohol is considered a toxin, because of its active ingredient, ethanol.


When a person stops using alcohol, the liver does not need to remove ethanol from the body.

As a result, the liver can remove other toxins causing the body harm.

Drinking too much alcohol for a long period of time can cause liver disease, which comes in four stages. [13]

  • >> Alcoholic fatty liver disease – usually, there are no obvious signs, but a person might feel pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • >> Alcoholic hepatitis – the most obvious sign is the yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • >> Fibrosis – this stage is when the liver repeatedly forms scars which hinder its normal activity
  • >> Cirrhosis – usually, this stage requires professional intervention as the person is at great risk of liver failure



Factors that make a person more vulnerable to permanent liver damage (cirrhosis) are: [10]

  • Being female
  • Being under-nourished or malnourished
  • Has a relative who has liver disease


A person who quits alcohol because of liver concerns will be fully evaluated for the extent of liver damage. [10]

To prolong the life of the individual who suffers from alcohol-related liver disease, professionals recommend life-long abstinence from alcohol. [10]

Aside from easing stress from the liver, abstinence from alcohol also benefits other parts of the digestive system.  Specifically: [14]

  • >> The lining of the oesophagus
  • >> The small intestines
  • >> The stomach


Excessive alcohol consumption even by individuals not affected by Alcohol Use Disorder tends to cause problems in the digestive process.

These symptoms can include: [14]

  • >> Diarrhoea – as alcohol is processed first, other things are not digested properly
  • >> Constipation – alcohol triggers the kidneys to remove more water from the body, causing hard, dry stools
  • >> Allergic reaction – particularly if the person is allergic to alcohol or ingredients with gluten/wheat in the drink


Abstaining from alcohol also lessens the risk of ulcers in the forming in the gastrointestinal tract, also called peptic ulcers. [3]

For professionally supervised detox and withdrawal from alcohol, Abbeycare Clinic can help.

After the duration of the rehab stay, clients are encouraged to keep in touch with therapists and to seek further help if needed.


  1.   Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Alcohol Withdrawal. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/alcohol-withdrawal-a-to-z
  2.   Muncie, H. Jr., Yasinian, Y. & Oge’ L. (2013). Outpatient Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/1101/p589.html
  3.   Trevisan, L., Boutros, N., Petrakis, I. & Krystal, J. (1998). Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal Pathophysiological Insights. Available at: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh22-1/61-66.pdf
  4.   O’Donnell, J. (DATE). Quitting alcohol can be deadly: Hundreds in the US die each year. USA TODAY. Available at:https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2018/11/27/alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome-detox-delirium-tremens-hallucinations-substance-abuse-disorder/2082020002/
  5.   Enoch, M.A. & Goldman, D. (2002). Problem Drinking and Alcoholism: Diagnosis and Treatment. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0201/p441.html
  6.   Mayo Clinic. (2018). Alcohol Use Disorder. Avialbale at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369250
  7.    Chen, P. et. al. (2018). Acupuncture for alcohol use disorder. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 10(1), 60–69. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871630/(2018).
  8.   NHS. (2018). Alcohol Misuse Treatment. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/treatment/
  9. Modesto-Lowe, V., Huard, J. & Conrad, C. (2005). Alcohol Withdrawal Kindling: Is There a Role for Anticonvulsants? Psychiatry, 2(5), 25–31. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3000183/
  10. Worman, H. (2005). Approach to the Patient with Alcoholic Liver Disease. Available at: https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/article/approach-patient-alcoholic-liver-disease/2005-09
  11. Morris, J. (2017). The media has a problem with alcoholism – and it’s stopping people getting help. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/sifting-the-evidence/2017/nov/22/the-media-has-a-problem-with-alcoholism
  12. Jamieson, A. (2018). Scotland tackles alcohol crisis with minimum price law. NBC News. Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/scotland-tackles-alcohol-crisis-minimum-price-law-n844696
  13. Felman, A. (2018). What’s to know about alcoholic liver disease? Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/215638.php
  14. Medline Plus. (2017). Digestive diseases. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007447.htm