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How Alcohol Rehab Works

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Where to go? What happens in alcohol rehab when you arrive?  How you’ll spend your day? What you’ll learn? Why alcohol rehab is the best decision you can make to reset your life.  

How alcohol rehab works 


If you’ve finally got to that point where you’ve had enough of living a life dependent on alcohol and all the chaos and destruction that’s come with it, then choosing to go to alcohol rehab could be the best decision you’ll ever take. 

And one that really might save your life. 

But where to go? What happens in alcohol rehab when you arrive?  How will you spend your day? What will you learn? Why alcohol rehab is the best decision you can make to reset your life.


What are my choices? 


In the United States there are over 14,000 drug and alcohol treatment centers. In the UK, we have 132 centers registered with the Care Quality Commission. But around the world there are many excellent treatment centers, so the UK is not the only place you need to consider. They don’t all offer the same treatment programs. Or the same level of luxury amenities. But they will all give you the same compassionate care wherever you choose to go. Some rehabs will offer abstinence-based recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps. Some will prefer alternative treatment methods like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). Some might combine the two. But finding the right one is what we can do – either here in the UK, or somewhere more private and more discreet. We know them all and we can help you identify the place that works best for you. 

The choice will also depend on the availability of beds at the time of admission, the type of therapy you prefer, the location, and your budget. For some, being close to home and loved ones is vital.  For others journeying to a foreign country like South Africa, the United States, Thailand, Switzerland, the Balearic Islands or even the Caribbean might be much more preferable.  

But call us and we can help you. 



How arrival at alcohol rehab works 


When you get there you’re going to be frightened and a little apprehensive. Everyone is. It’s new. You don’t know what to expect. But you’ve already taken the most fearful step of the lot – which is to go.  You’ll be met by friendly staff who have most likely made the same journey youre about to make. So they know how you’re feeling. They know what you’re going through. They’ve been through it themselves.  


How assessment at alcohol rehab works 


If you’re a heavy drinker, you’re going to arrive unwell. Some will arrive extremely inebriated, which is not unusual and, surprisingly, is a much safer state to arrive in than a person who has suddenly stops drinking hours earlier. In fact, most rehabs will recommend you do not stop drinking until you get there and they can look after you. 

Once in, you’ll be interviewed by the chief medical officer. They will assess your immediate needs. Your current mental and physical health. Your past history of alcohol dependence. General health habits. Take your pulse. Your blood pressure. Urine and blood. You will then be given a breathalyser to determine when you can start your full medical detoxification program. As it takes the body one hour to process one unit of alcohol, you will be monitored closely and given all the medical assistance you need to ease your anxiety as the body slowly flushes all the alcohol from its system. Once youre alcohol free, they will start you on Librium or Diazepine.  


How alcohol detox works 


Withdrawal from heavy alcohol dependence is deeply unpleasant and can be very dangerous – unless embarked upon under careful medical supervision. Nausea. Vomiting. Shaking. Shivering. Fever. Increased heart rate. Exhaustion. Insomnia. Fitting. Loss of balance. Hallucinations – all of these are common symptoms.  But with the right medication these conditions are controlled and eased, primarily with benzodiazepines like Librium or Diazepam. They will be taken with vitamin and mineral supplements.  During heavy addiction, the body will become depleted of vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and potassium, so these need to be topped up. For seven to ten days, you will go to the med trolley, or the infirmary, three to five times a day and collect your meds to help you get through the day.  Sometimes this period can take a little longer. Depends on the quantity of alcohol being consumed and your physical and mental well-being. But you will rediscover your appetite. You will start to enjoy a good night’s sleep. And you will be back on your feet and ready to participate in treatment. 


How treatment works in alcohol rehab 


Different rehabs will offer different therapy programs, or a combination of programs to treat addiction.  According to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, the AA 12-Step program is the most effective way to treat alcohol use disorder. But it does not work for everybody. It is faith based and it requires a belief and acceptance of a Higher Power. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is an alternative type of treatment now offered in many rehabs and has proven to be effective at helping manage addictive behaviour by training the individual to change their thought patterns.  This will help you deal with stress, grief and complicated relationships – all of which are common triggers to abuse alcohol. Complementary and alternative medicine is also used in some rehabs. Acupuncture. Yoga. Massage. Exercise. They all help reduce your cravings and manage your stress to aid your recovery process. And there will be group therapy. Every day. And one-on-one counselling. And family therapy. And relapse prevention therapy. But the most successful model of all to lead a sober life is the 12-Step program of AA. 


Length of stay in alcohol rehab 


Most rehabs recommend a minimum residential stay of 28 days. Some will suggest longer – anywhere from 6 weeks to 9 months. It depends on you and what you need.    


A typical day in alcohol rehab 


Your day in rehab is busy, orderly, helpful and healthy.   

All residents are expected to rise early and enjoy a healthy breakfast. After addiction, eating three good meals a day will be a little strange at first, but will soon become a valuable, vital, and much enjoyed part of your daily program.  

Some rehabs offer pre-morning classes such as yoga or meditation to help begin the day in a relaxed state of mind. Some might have saunas, gyms, or steam rooms.  

If they do, try them.  

They will make you feel better. 

After breakfast there will be a group session, led by a counsellor or therapist that will focus on topics related to your treatment. A significant area of discussion during treatment is on achieving clarity about the issues, people, and circumstance in your life that fueled your desire to abuse alcohol. These meetings will help you begin to understand and recognize patterns of your behaviour that you can change, or triggers that you should avoid in order not to relapse back into alcohol dependency. Over time, you will develop a strong sense of fellowship with others in your group. Trust grows. You all become more open. More revealing. You may unburden yourself of problems or personal traumas you have never have shared before. During these sessions you may make friends that you’ll see long after rehab has finished. 

Then it’s lunch. 

Then more therapy. 

These may include: 

Art/music therapy –  which uses music to reduce stress, open communication, enhance well-being, and distract patients from the uncomfortable symptoms, due to alcohol abuse. 

Biofeedback – which tracks how the body unconsciously reacts to physical and emotional tension by the use of sensors.  

Neurofeedback – similar to biofeedback. It uses monitoring devices, electronic sensors, and software to read incoming brain wave data.  

Or more group therapy. 

Afternoon session will finish about 4.30.   

Dinner at 5.30.   

Then socialising with other residents in the lounge.   

Bed by 11.  

And that’s your day.  

And unlike your life in addiction, you will go to bed. And you will have a good night’s sleep.  

And when you wake up, you will feel well again. 


Can we help with anything else? 


If you want to know more about the way alcohol rehab works or what it’s like going to alcohol rehab get in touch with a member of our team for a free, confidential discussion or read our going to rehab FAQs page. 

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Funded Rehab

A portion of our funds provides placements in private rehabs for people that otherwise are not able to afford it. When we have funded placements available, we make an announcement on our social media channels and website, then open applications. Please visit again or follow us on social media to be informed when funded placements become available.