Do I Need Rehab?

We sometimes get asked about alcohol rehab or detox: Do I need rehab? When are they the right choice for and for whom? Our friends at Blenheim have written us a guest blog explaining what rehab is, when it might be the right thing, and what other options are available for someone struggling with their drinking.


Treatment options for alcohol misuse can sometimes be confusing. There is no one-size-fits-all process and what works for you may not work for someone else. It may take you several attempts to sober up or you might do it the first time. The right treatment option will depend on the amount you are drinking and whether you are trying to stop drinking completely (abstinence) or cut down (moderation). The first step towards recovery is knowing your options.

Detox

If you are physically dependent on alcohol and want to stop drinking, it is recommended that you seek medical advice to safely manage your withdrawals with the aid of medication. Depending on your level of drinking there are two main types of detoxification available:

  • Community Alcohol Detox – if you are drinking more than 20 units per day (there is a unit calculator at www.drinkaware.co.uk) or are physically dependant and experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop or reduce your alcohol intake, this may be an option for you. With support from your GP and other professionals, prescribed detox medication will be administered which will help to manage your withdrawal symptoms safely at home.
  • Residential detox – If your alcohol consumption is high you may be referred to a specialist detox centre – or if you have health complications then you may be admitted into hospital to carry out your detox.

Brief Intervention Therapy

You may be offered brief intervention sessions by alcohol professionals at your GP’s surgery or local alcohol charity if you are a non-dependent drinker. These are essentially 3 – 6 brief sessions that will aim to raise your awareness around alcohol; how to identify units and the possible physical and psychological impact of drinking. Advice and information will be given to you around safer drinking and how to reduce your alcohol intake, including where to access further support.Medication

There are several different types of medications that can be prescribed by your GP to support you to maintain your abstinence alongside holistic support. These medications can help reduce cravings (Acamprosate), block the effects of alcohol (Naltrexone) or help prevent relapse by producing an adverse effect to alcohol in the body (Disulfiram).

Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial support often looks to process the underlying causes of your alcohol addiction.

Self help groups such as SMART Recovery could help you to get sober and maintain healthy boundaries in relation to alcohol. These groups can be found all around the country and more information can be found on their websites.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a type of therapy that will help you manage your problems by identifying the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Psychotherapy is a long term talking therapy that can help you to understand yourself better, and may help to address the blocks and barriers to achieving your goals.

Moderation vs Abstinence

Whilst abstinence could be considered the most effective way to resolve your drinking problem, you may find reaching and maintaining the zero alcohol approach difficult. However, maintained abstinence can show very positive results and the majority of individuals who abstained from alcohol for at least a year continue to do so for many years into the future.

The idea of abstinence can be overwhelming for a lot of drinkers and may not feel like the right goal for you. Moderation or controlled drinking options can be an alternative; this approach will be more suited to you if you are a problem drinker rather than alcohol dependent. The idea is to support you to adopt more responsible drinking habits so that your drinking doesn’t become more problematic or hazardous. Adopting and understanding responsible drinking habits can prevent it becoming more of a problem in the future.

Controlling your alcohol use

Rehab or no rehab, getting your alcohol use under control, whether that is becoming sober or moderating your drinking, is no mean feat. It takes a big desire to change, lots of will power and support. Sadly there is no “magic solution” or “quick fix”: once you make that decision to change you embark on a life long journey of self-development and personal growth. You can talk to your GP or local alcohol charity about the best treatment options available for you.

You can find more information including factsheets and details of free and confidential alcohol services in London on our website.

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