Alcohol detoxification

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1 Alcohol detoxification A guide to alcohol detoxification for service users and families. Stockton Treatment Alcohol and Recovery Service

2 Alcohol dependence If you are dependent on alcohol then you will usually be advised to stop drinking. This guide gives you more information about what to expect from an alcohol detox (detoxification). It also offers tips on ways to help you during and after your detox. You might want to share this guide with family and friends so that they are able to support you and know what you are going through. Remember your local alcohol service is here to help you every step of the way.

3 WARNING: Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal in some cases. If you are dependent on alcohol then you should not suddenly stop drinking without medical advice. Someone who is alcohol dependent: feels unable to function without alcohol starts to develop withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol wears off Withdrawal symptoms can be different for different people. These are the common symptoms that start 3-8 hours after your last drink: Feeling sick Trembling Sweating Alcohol craving and feeling awful in general Some people have a more severe reaction. This includes: Trembling and shaking Agitation, confusion and hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that are not there) Convulsions or fits Complications such as dehydration and other physical problems Those people who have a more severe reaction may cause harm to themselves and in some case this can be fatal. Because you will not know how severe your reaction will be, you will need help to withdraw from alcohol. This is called a detox. If you are alcohol dependent you should not stop drinking without medical advice and support this could be very harmful.

4 What is an alcohol detox? An alcohol detox involves taking a short course of medicine which helps prevent withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. A commonly prescribed medicine is called chlordiazepoxide from a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs help to reduce anxiety (feeling stressed) and physical symptoms. Your detox plan might look like this: Medication The clinical team will prescribe a high dose of medicine for the first day that you stop drinking. This dose will be gradually reduced over the next 5 7 days. This really helps to reduce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. You must agree to stop drinking You must agree not to drink any alcohol when you are going through detox. A breathalyser may be used to confirm that you are not drinking. Support The clinical team will see you regularly during your detox. Support from family and friends can really help too.

5 How will someone feel going through detox? Some people find it easier than others. You can expect to: Feel quite nervous or anxious for a few days after you stop drinking Have some difficulty getting to sleep for a few nights Have some mild withdrawal symptoms but they should not be too bad. The medicine will really help. The medicine used for detox will not make you stop drinking. It just helps you feel better while the body adjusts to not having alcohol. You need to be determined to stop drinking. Willpower and coping strategies are important to resist the temptation to drink and here at your local alcohol service we can help you develop these. Vitamin supplements It is common to be prescribed vitamins during and after a detox. This is because many people who drink heavily do not eat properly and so lack certain vitamins. A lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine) is the most common. A lack of this vitamin can cause serious brain conditions. Specialist help for a detox Some people are referred to a specialist drug and alcohol unit for detox. This is usually for those who have other physical and mental health problems and who have: Little home or social support A history of severe withdrawal symptoms A physical illness caused by alcohol Previous unsuccessful attempts to stop People may be admitted to hospital if the symptoms of withdrawal become severe or if they have other problems.

6 After detoxification Some people say that stopping drinking is the easy part and it is the staying stopped (known as abstinence) that is more difficult. After a successful detox some people go back to drinking heavily again. This is known as a relapse. To help prevent a relapse medication and other help may be offered. Medication You may be prescribed medicine to help you stay off alcohol, these help in different ways: Acamprosate (brand name Campral) helps to reduce cravings for alcohol. It is usually started in hospital and continued by your clinical team. Naltrexone also helps reduce alcohol cravings but is usually only prescribed by specialist clinical services. Disulfiram (brand name Antabuse) can be used if you are worried that you might start drinking again. It works by causing very unpleasant reactions (such as feeling sick, vomiting, chest pains and headache) if you do drink alcohol. So if you are tempted to have a drink then the side effects of this can help people stay off alcohol.

7 Alcohol Services The Stockton Treatment and Recovery Service offers a range of support to people getting ready for an alcohol detox and afterward. Many people find that getting involved with the service makes it more likely that they will stay off alcohol. The service can help you to think and plan for a life free of alcohol. We can put you in touch with people who have had the same problems as you, who understand how you feel and can support you. Your Doctor is also a good source of support and can work with us to help you. Keeping busy is also important, and we can also help you to join in fun activities and possibly education and training opportunities if that is what you want. If you do start drinking again If you have had a problem with alcohol and you have been through a detox it is best for you not to drink. Even small amounts might lead you back into old habits. Some people make several attempts to stop drinking before they succeed so if you do go back to drinking then remember all is not lost. You can try again. Heavy drinking also puts you at risk of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. If this is diagnosed early on and you seek help then you can stop it from getting worse. Half of all those people diagnosed with alcohol-related cirrhosis (a type of Alcohol Related Liver Disease) who continue to drink will die within 5 years. Stopping drinking will prevent any further liver damage and will increase how long you live and your quality of life.

8 Tips for staying off alcohol Whilst staying off alcohol requires determination and willpower there are some things that may help you. Diet Drink plenty of fluids, good choices are water, squash or fruit juice. Avoid having lots of drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea or energy drinks. These types of drinks will stop you sleeping and can lead to anxiety. Try to eat regular, balanced meals even if you are not feeling hungry. Your appetite will return gradually. Drinking environments A common problem when people stop drinking is overconfidence that you can resist alcohol or just have one drink. Try to avoid these situations. If you are in company where alcohol is available then prepare yourself to ask for a soft drink. Learn ways of refusing alcohol without upsetting yourself or offending others. Do not go back to your local pub or a place where you used to drink. Do not go into a drinking environment if you feel like a drink. The longer you can manage to go without a drink then the easier it will become to cope with pubs, parties and other situations where alcohol is available. Other people Look for ways to repay the help of true friends and family who

9 helped you stop drinking. They deserve it. Do not try and do it all by yourself. You will probably know who you can rely on, this might be family or friends. They will want you to succeed so talk to them about how you are feeling and things that are particularly difficult. It will be easier if you include them. Question your friendships built up during your drinking days. Some of these friends may have just been drinking companions. Try to develop friendships that are not based just on drinking, maybe someone with a similar interest to you. Having fun Learn to relax and have some time each day to do something that you enjoy. Even small things like having a bath can make you feel good. Try to get out and build up physical activity in your daily routine as you are feeling better, go for a short walk. Fill your time that you used to spend drinking. Keep busy around the time of day that you used to drink alcohol. Think about taking up an interest when you are ready, even if you only read about it at first. Sort out problems If you have money problems then try to sort them out. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help advise you how to manage any debts. Try to deal with any problems now and do not put them off. If left to build up they can cause stress and can affect your recovery. Do ask for help if you have any problems. Trust and respect Self confidence will grow along with your own successful efforts. Be positive about the future. Try not to be upset if you are still being snubbed by people. You may have to prove yourself again to all of them and this may take time. Do not rush it You have been through an enormous amount both physically and mentally. Do not plan too much too soon. Unfulfilled plans can be an excuse to drink. Although the body may feel better the mind will take longer to recover. Do not make any major decisions such as changing your house, job, partner, starting a family. Wait until you have some stability in your life. If over a period of time you feel unwell then see your Doctor or call in and see us. Do not assume that they will think you have been drinking. Breaking free from alcohol will take time but there are many people who have. Make the most of the services we offer and we will work with you to have a life free from alcohol. And finally Good Luck.

10 A1305 Allison Street Taking that first step to getting help might be difficult for you. We understand. We are here to help you every step of the way. Stockton train station Dovecot Street Skinner Street Norton Road A1305 Leeds Street Castlegate Shopping Centre River Tees Get in touch today. Yarm Lane John Snow College How do I get in touch? Open 9 5 Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri; and 9 7 Thurs at: STARS, 3-9 Skinner Street, Stockton, TS18 1DY Or you can call us on:

11 Lifeline working in partnership with Fulcrum 'Lifeline: Reducing harm, promoting recovery, challenging inequalities' Registered Office: 12 Hilton Street, Manchester, M1 1JF Charity Number: Company Number:

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