Emergency alcohol rehab

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

An emergency alcohol or drug treatment occurs when someone urgently needs rehab. This may occur due to some medical or psychological reason.  

The medical reason is when the drug or alcohol use leads to a potentially life-threatening event. For instance, the person may experience alcohol poisoning.

This serious, and at times, deadly event needs emergency medical care. In such a case, the person will have to go for emergency care at a hospital where they'll: 

1. Stabilize you.  

The doctors will conduct an assessment to check any deficiencies. In most instances, people with a drinking problem are likely to be malnourished or dehydrated.

The medical professionals will most likely conduct a lab test to check for any deficiencies. They will also give you IV fluids and other necessary nutrients.  

2. Assess you for a mental health disorders.  

If there's a mental health professional among the staff, they may be called in to to talk to you.  

3. Advice you to go for medical detox.  

Most hospitals can assist you with the detox process. If you've been drinking for a long time, then you're probably aware that cold turkey is not the best option. The medical practitioners may advice you to go for a medical detox programme.  

Psychological emergencies are more or less about the mental and emotional state of the person. The alcohol or drug addict may come to their senses and realize they need help.

This is considered an emergency because this realization provides a short window of time to take the person to rehab before they change their mind.  

A psychological emergency also occurs when the addict becomes irrational about their circumstance. They may harbour thoughts about suicide or self-harm. In that case, it's best to take them to emergency rehab.  

Alcohol and drug addiction negatively affects an individual's social life, career, and relationships.

When an addict realizes that they have been socially ostracized, or if they lose their job or spouse because of the addiction, they made decide to enter emergency rehab.

The threat of losing a relationship or career that they cherish can spark a desire to seek urgent rehab.  

Other situations where urgent treatment may be needed include:  

  • The individual shows early signs of acute liver failure  
  • The individual shows violent tendencies towards loved ones  
  • The individual mixes alcohol with other harmful drugs  
  • The individual experiences financial collapse resulting from the addiction behaviour

Any addiction situation can turn into an emergency at any moment's notice, requiring immediate admission to a rehab programme.

Call Abbeycare's addiction helpline to help you get treatment at a clinic that's closest to you.

Alternatively, there are addiction counsellors who can help you identify an emergency rehab near you.

 You can find addiction counsellors by: 

a). Checking out the Counselling Directory (UK) [2].  

b). Contacting Addictions UK [3].  

c). Contacting your GP to find locally available options.  

An individual may seek treatment when they realize that they need emergency rehab. In some instances, it is the friends or family members who realize that an individual's substance abuse is getting worse.  

Many rehab facilities offer urgent treatment. They will quicken the admission process so that the detox process can begin within a short period of time if needed.  

Individuals in need of emergency rehab can choose between inpatient and outpatient treatment. They also get to choose between day programmes and intensive outpatient programmes.  

Alcohol abuse emergency treatment 

Alcohol abuse emergency treatment is necessary to save the life of the patient. The individual may be in a state of mind that's harmful to themselves or their loved ones.

Other times, the addict’s physical health may be so poor that they need to stop drinking ASAP.  

When a person needs urgent rehab, they don't have the luxury of waiting for weeks or months for an NHS programme to have a vacancy. That person needs to be admitted in a rehab centre within 24 to 48 hours.  

Emergency rehab is not different from the standard treatment programme. The only difference is that the person needs immediate care.

On that note, a medical emergency for treatment is likely to be accompanied by physical or psychological problems that need immediate attention while the patient is undergoing detox.  

The first step of alcohol treatment is detox. Detox (detoxification) is the process of helping the body get rid of toxins.

A typical detox programme starts with an initial assessment of the patient to determine their overall health.

After that, the individual will be placed in a recovery room in anticipation of the withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms begin in about 3 to 12 hours from the last drink.  

The role of the clinical staff during detox is to protect the patient from any life-threatening condition. The withdrawal symptoms range from acute to severe depending on the length of alcohol or drug use and the severity.

Instances of severe withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening. The symptoms peak within 24 to 72 hours and gradually subside over time.  

There are two stages of withdrawal: 

Stage 1: Physical withdrawal symptoms  

The person experiences physical withdrawal symptoms. For instance, changes in heart rate, headaches, tremors, fatigue. Delirium tremens is a severe symptom that needs medical care for you to survive.  

Stage 2: Post-acute withdrawal symptoms  

This stage has fewer physical symptoms but the patient experiences emotional and psychological symptoms. They include mood swings, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, insomnia, low enthusiasm, poor concentration.  

The symptoms occur as the brain chemistry returns to normal. As your brain functioning improves, the chemicals in your brain fluctuate as they approach a new equilibrium.

At the onset, the symptoms will change from minute to minute, and later from hour to hour. Once the physical symptoms subside, the post-acute symptoms can last for at most 2 years.  

Once the detoxification process is complete, the individual will have to choose between residential and outpatient services. Residential treatment is recognized as the best approach for long-term sobriety.

The individual gets to stay in a safe environment where they'll receive psychotherapeutic treatment.  

There's also intensive outpatient rehab. In this case, the person gets to attend therapy and other services while still residing at home.  

Drug rehab clinics will provide you with: 

  • Medically or non-medically assisted detox  
  • Physical, mental, and emotional support  
  • Coping skills to help you avoid relapse  
  • Support needed to reintegrate into society.  

Some of the treatments provided include: 

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This therapy is designed to help the individual identify the source of their triggers and how to avoid them.  
  • Group counselling: Almost all rehab clinics take advantage of group counselling. The main purpose of this therapy is to provide mutual support.  
  • 12 steps approach: This highly successful program was adopted from the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).  
  • Group leisure activities: The purpose of group leisure activities like cycling is to show recovering alcoholics that there's a whole life outside drug or alcohol rehab.  
  • Family therapy: Some alcohol or drug rehab clinics offer family therapy. The aim of this therapy is to help solve family conflict or dysfunction.  
  • Individual counselling. This is one of the treatment options provided by most drug and alcohol rehab programmes. It allows you to engage one-on-one with a counsellor to empower you to change your life.  

Some behavioural disorders may co-occur with urgent rehab. For instance, the person may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, conduct disorder and so on. 

Knowledge of these disorders helps the rehab treatment facility come up with a treatment plan that's tailored to address these disorders.  


Preparing to Enter Emergency Rehab  

The 1st step in preparing to enter rehab is to inform your loved ones. In the UK, employees are entitled to 12 weeks of medical leave. Therefore, the job of the individual is protected as they receive treatment.  

Consulting a rehab treatment facility or a GP will help you determine how long you'll stay in treatment.

Before you enter rehab, you can set up direct deposits and automatic payments for any bills that you need to pay. This will give you peace of mind, especially if you're going for inpatient treatment.  

If there are legal issues that need to be addressed, you can notify the court that you'll be unavailable.

You can also designate some of your responsibilities to your loved ones so that you'd get stressed when you're in treatment.  

If you are seeking treatment for a loved one, the best way to do it is to offer support. You can hold a brief intervention with them an addictions counsellor.

Assure them that entering treatment is life saving and that you'll be there for them every step of the way.  

Before entering rehab, some people may feel unsure of themselves. Having a loved one reassure them that they're making the right decision makes them less anxious.  

Public or Private alcohol abuse emergency treatment  

There are public and private treatment services for those in need of emergency treatment. Generally, there is no free rehab.

What happens in an emergency is that the patient will go for detoxification at a hospital. The NHS offers partial hospitalization for the detoxification process.  

After that, the person will be placed in community-based treatment before accessing NHS rehabilitation.

As pointed out earlier, the issue with NHS rehabilitation is that there's a long waiting list. The person may have to wait for months before they can access treatment.  

There are private alcohol rehabilitation options (see Abbeycare's guide to rehabilitation for alcohol abuse). These are beneficial as they offer immediate access to urgent treatment. Some of the best clinics for urgent rehab can be found at UK addiction treatment group [4].

Alternatively, you can contact addiction treatment organizations for immediate confidential help.  

Most private clinics offer free advice when you contact them for emergencies. Some of them have a free call back service 24 hours a day which makes them convenient when you or a loved one are in urgent need for admissions.  

Both NHS and private options offer free services in terms of consultation. If a person needs residential treatment, private options are the best as they provide flexible payment options.  

What Qualifies for Acute Rehab

An acute rehabilitation program is designed to help people regain physical ability after experiencing a significant injury.  Displaying signs of physical withdrawals or getting involved in crisis situation like a major damage to the spinal cord, stroke, brain injuries, or amputation, as a result of alcohol use, are examples of what qualifies for acute rehab.

Trying to quit drinking is associated with negative side effects. Patients may lose the ability to think correctly, walk or talk if they experience any of the conditions listed above. In acute rehabilitation, specialists take a multidisciplinary approach to help them regain the ability to live an everyday life again.

Acute rehab is for those who cannot quit drinking on their own because of the painful process of withdrawal. Those with underlying health conditions also need acute rehab as trying to stop on their own can be life-threatening.  

With acute rehab, the person enters a safe environment where they can safely detox. Acute rehab offers detox and rehabilitation services.

This treatment plan provides inpatient treatment. The person enters a safe environment where they'll receive professional support.  

Persons who qualify for acute rehab are: 

  • Those who admit to themselves that they are struggling with addiction and need treatment.  
  • Those who realize that they're stuck in a negative and destructive cycle of binge drinking. 
  • The person has already started showing physical side-effects of drug or alcohol addiction.  
  • People who have become physically dependent on the substance and can no longer go for a day without using the substance of choice.  
  • People who are consumed with thoughts of their next drink or drug.  
  • People who have lost their jobs or have been arrested whilst intoxicated.  
  • People who have tried to stop and restarted on numerous occasions.  
  • Have used the drug or alcohol for over a decade.  
  • Have lied to the GP and have not used their prescriptions as advised. 


Many drug and rehab facilities and hospitals make room for emergency rehab. The need for urgent care may occur due to medical or psychological reasons.

When it occurs, its always important to provide immediate treatment before the addict ends up in a life-threatening situation, or they change their mind.  

Many addiction treatment organizations have a free call back service. You can fill in the contact requests and a treatment provider will get back to you.  

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 22, 2023