How effective is alcohol detox?

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Very Effective. But alcohol detox alone is not full treatment programme. It is the first step towards alcohol addiction treatment. For people who are dependent on alcohol, alcohol withdrawal treatment is a long and difficult process. 

Alcohol detoxification helps with alcohol and drug addiction treatment. It cleanses the body and prepares it for the addiction treatment.  

However, regardless of how effective the alcohol detox programme is, anyone with a drinking history, meaning that they suffer from alcohol use disorder or AUD, will experience some withdrawal symptoms when going through the detox process. 

Detox allows your body to rid itself from the effects of long term drug and alcohol use and these symptoms usually hit about 6 hours after your last drink.  

The detox program seeks to help guide your body through the alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and other withdrawal symptoms you may experience.  

The symptoms may take at least a week before they start to subside and the success of the alcohol detox program will depend on whether or not you will stick with it. 

Due to the numerous withdrawal symptoms, such as high blood pressure, alcohol detox should essentially take place in a treatment centre with a certified addiction professional who can provide trustworthy health information. 

This is because, you will not only try to reduce your alcohol cravings, or alcohol dependency, but you will also require some prescription medications to reduce how the alcohol affects your body. 

The withdrawal symptoms are of great concern here, and alcohol detox should be taken seriously.  

Do you need medication? 

Yes. sometimes the withdrawal symptoms can become too severe during alcohol detox and the treatment facility will use medication to help reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms and also provide you with professional treatment advice. 

The kind of medication they use at the treatment centres includes:  

  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Barbiturates 

These are extremely powerful in treating the post acute withdrawal syndrome and any other symptoms such as delirium tremens which can be pretty severe.  

How long does it take for your body to heal after you stop drinking? 

This is a question that most people in a treatment programme or going through substance abuse treatment ask.  

The answer is not that straightforward, because healing from alcohol abuse can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months or even years.  

This is because, the effects of alcohol abuse are usually cumulative and will have lasting effects on your central nervous system, mental health, blood pressure, heart, gut, digestive tract, brain, and liver function. 

However, regardless of all that, with the right kind of treatment program, preferably at a residential treatment centre, with medical professionals, an experienced medical team and a healthy diet, the detox phase of the treatment can be accelerated and the whole recovery process will be made easier. 

Here's a rundown of what happens during detox:  

In the first week 

When you stop drinking, it will take almost 48 hours for the blood alcohol to drop all the way to zero, and during this time, you will start to experience the initial symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.  

These will include nausea, shakiness, headache, exhaustion, an elevated heart rate, and mood swings. This is essentially the hangover.  

The symptoms will however subside after a few days after you quit drinking, and even though the person suffering will have shakiness and queasiness for a few more days, they are not too severe. 

You may however notice that you are sweating profusely at night, and this should not worry you as it is all part of the body getting rid of the symptoms of alcohol. 

Next, your brain cells will start regenerating themselves three days into the detox process, and the symptoms in this phase of the alcohol detox, include nausea and anxiety. 

Anxiety for someone who has had a prolonged alcohol abuse is dangerous, as they have to really work hard to reduce alcohol cravings.  

Without the right treatment options from the specific treatment centre, or rehab centre, the sedative effects of alcohol detox, and alcohol addiction treatment on the receptors can be too overwhelming, to control and alcohol withdrawal treatment may fail. 

Safe treatment, including mental health treatment from treatment providers will help in easing the feelings of anxiety.

Support from a family member, or support groups is also necessary for one to stay sober and stick to the advice given by the medical professional. 

The Next Few Months 

After the first week, the body slowly regains its normal functions and your digestive system balances out. In this time, you will notice that your bowel movements start becoming regular and the nausea periods are less. 

You will also have the ability to have a good night sleep, and the medical care you receive actually starts to work.  

How much is a private alcohol detox? 

If you are planning to do alcohol detox before going to a treatment facility, then expect to spend around £2,000 for the program.

This can take from 7 - 10 days, and it is inclusive of everything, such as the substance abuse treatment, mental health services administration, professionals who provide medical advice, and a specific treatment provider to take you through the process. 

In case money is a little tight, you could choose to do detox only and then go to a treatment provider later on. 

In patient treatment 

As you would guess, inpatient treatment is more costly compared to outpatient, and this is because the treatment providers have a facility where they provide all their services plus room and board.  

The cost is normally inclusive of the use of utilities, rent, medical professionals, treatment of certain symptoms such as delirium tremens, any other substance abuse, alcohol detox, and after rehab care. 

Usually, the specific treatment providers listed can charge around £1,500 per week, which means that the shortest rehab program of 28 days would cost you around £6,000 for the whole alcohol detox process plus rehab.  

Working with experienced counsellors is always a great way to start your treatment, and most of the inpatient treatment centres, provide this.  

Additionally, you will be able to attend group therapy, and join a support group to help you on your road to recovery. 

If you are looking for such a clinic, you can find a treatment provider with specific treatment centre listing online, so you can identify where you can find help. 

The best part is that the medical provider will have paid advertisers online chat, for you to first have a chat with them, before making a decision. 

Alternatively, you could use the website's main phone number, to call them, and request for the information you need before going to rehab. 


Aftercare varies, especially depending on the treatment centres. Most of them include aftercare in their overall package and generally, you will be expected to pay about £1,000 each week. 

When you are done with the rehab program, then you have to transition into normal life. This is easy for some, but hard for others. 

According to the national institute statistics, most people who leave rehab without a good aftercare program end up relapsing over time. 

This is extremely essential, especially because it also helps with your mental health assessment after rehab. 


Factors influencing the cost of rehab in the UK 

Not all rehab clinics charge the same. Here are a few factors that influence the cost: 


Naturally, the location will affect the price. This is because, the cost of living varies from one city to another, and this impacts the prices of things such as food, rent and utilities. 

Number of staff 

The rehab facility will need to have experienced and qualified staff who are expensive, and therefore, the more experienced, the higher the cost. 

Luxury Level 

Different rehab centres will have different levels of luxury, and some will actually look like a holiday resort.  

Of course, this affects the cost, and the cheaper ones can be around £1,500 a week, while the most expensive can go up to £10,000 per week. 

Will NHS pay for Rehab? 

Yes. NHS does pay for local and outpatient rehab programs, but please note that you will not be accepted instantly as there is a waiting period and a waiting list. 

How do you abstain from alcohol? 

If you are concerned about your alcohol intake, and you probably feel that you are drinking too much and too often, then it’s about time you tried to get your alcohol intake under control so you can live a sober life. 

Here are a few tips to help you abstain from alcohol: 

Start by putting it in writing 

This means making a list with reasons why you need to cut your drinking. Some of the reasons you would want to do this are: you want to feel healthier, you want to improve your relationships and you wish to sleep better. 

Set a drinking goal 

Set a limit of how much you will drink, and you should keep this to a minimum, always below the recommended amount. You shouldn't take more than one drink per day of you are a woman and for a man, stick to two drinks.  

These limits are a bit high for people who have medical conditions, so, always consult your doctor first. 

Keep a diary 

For the first few weeks, keep track of everything you are drinking, and how much. This information should include how often you drink as well.

Compare this to the goals you have and if you find that you are having trouble sticking to this, re-evaluate your goals. 

Do not keep any alcohol in the house 

This should be rule number one. Do not keep any alcoholic drinks in the house as this will lead to cravings that may be hard to control. 

Drink slowly 

Sipping your drink slowly will cause you to take it a sip at a time, which makes it easy to control how much you take. Also, never drink on an empty stomach. 

Avoid peer pressure 

Learn how to say no, but politely. You do not have to drink all the time, just because your friends are drinking. Stay away from friends who are addicted to alcohol, as it will defeat your progress. 

Keep yourself busy 

When you feel the urge to take alcohol when you shouldn't, play sports, take a walk, or catch a movie. Being home, you may feel at a loss, but you need to find a new hobby, or revisit an old one. 

Ask for support 

Cutting down on drinking is not easy, and you should let your friends and family members know what you are trying to do so they can help you.

They could make sure that there is no alcohol during family functions, or if there is, they should always ensure that they keep track of how much you are taking. 


It may be hard, but do not give up. Keep trying over and over again, and eventually you will be able to beat the habit and even completely quit alcohol, if that is your goal.

You are bound to have setbacks, but do not let these derail you from the goal. 


When you start drinking, you have no idea how that will go, but sooner or later you find yourself addicted and the process of quitting is always long and hard.  

It can however be done, and the best thing would be to take your time and ensure that you use all the help you can find. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: November 6, 2023