Emergency addiction detox might be necessary when a drug addict or alcoholic is in imminent danger. An emergency detox situation allows the individual to be admitted to a clinic or hospital within 24 hours or less. Such emergencies are more common in the UK than many of us would like to believe.

Addiction Helper is familiar with emergency detox due to our mission of helping alcoholics and drug addicts break free from addictive behaviours. From time to time, we get emergency calls from either the addicts themselves or their family members. When those calls come in, we get right to work finding a clinic or programme for the individual.

In terms of how emergency detox works, it is no different from any other type of detox. It is only designated as ‘emergency detox’ because it is available right away. An individual might need this type of care if he or she is facing:

  • potentially life-threatening conditions
  • loss of child custody
  • imminent loss of a job
  • imminent loss of a marriage relationship.

The four possibilities we have listed here do not even scratch the surface. The point is that emergency detox is available for those who need it. Our job is to help you find it as quickly as possible.

How Detox Works

The detox process is designed to allow your body to cleanse itself of the compounds and chemicals associated with your addiction. The only way to do that is to prevent you from continuing to drink or take drugs. Therefore, every detox involves a separation. There are two basic methods of detox to choose from:

  • Medicated – During a medicated detox procedure, the addict is given prescription medications for a number of reasons. First, they are given to alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Second, they may be given to prevent a serious injury or to treat an underlying condition.
  • Non-Medicated – The non-medicated method of detox is often referred to as ‘cold turkey’. This method employs no medications except in the event of a medical emergency. The advantage of non-medicated detox is that it is quicker and more thorough. Most addicts can complete it within seven days.

Until about 20 years ago, non-medicated detox was the norm. However, things have changed. These days it is more common to undergo medicated detox unless you prefer the other method and your medical team agrees. The disadvantage of medicated detox is that it can take longer.

In an emergency detox situation, it is likely the addict needs a fast and clean break. If this describes your case, you may want to consider a non-medicated detox. If you would prefer the medicated method, then at least consider inpatient detox at a private clinic rather than outpatient NHS detox. The inpatient programme will be quicker and more complete.

After Detox

Some alcoholics and drug addicts find that emergency detox is all that is needed for a full recovery. Nevertheless, that is a best-case scenario that’s not the norm. Most cases require either a 4 to 12 week rehab programme or some sort of supplemental aftercare. One of the things we do at Addiction Helper is determine what types of support services are needed after detox. Here is a brief description of both:

  • Aftercare – Aftercare is a selection of support services designed to prevent relapse. It includes one-on-one counselling, group support and, when necessary, maintenance medications. Aftercare can be utilised as soon as detox is complete or after a prolonged rehab programme.
  • Rehab – The typical rehab programme runs between 4 and 12 weeks. It includes a number of psychotherapeutic treatments designed to help the addict overcome mental and emotional issues. When emergency detox is not enough, a prolonged rehab is often what is necessary for complete recovery.

Public and Private Options

When you seek out detox, you will find that you have both public and private options. Public options include detox services offered by the NHS and local or regional charities. These services are essentially free. Unfortunately, that also means they are usually oversubscribed.

In an emergency, a publicly funded detox programme would likely be immediately available at an NHS hospital. Most clients would be able to get in within 24 hours without a problem. In cases where emergency detox was not considered life threatening, an individual might be able to start outpatient detox immediately.

Emergency detox at a private clinic is somewhat different. Private clinics tend to set aside a certain number of beds specifically designated for emergency admissions. Most of the clinics we work with can admit a new client on an emergency basis within 24 hours or less. Outpatient detox at a private clinic is equally accessible.

What to Expect

Regardless of where you seek emergency detox, there are certain things you can expect. First will be the evaluation by medical professionals who will determine whether you need medicated or non-medicated detox. If appropriate, you will be given medications that will help you through the process.

Once your detox begins, you will start exhibiting withdrawal symptoms anywhere from three to 12 hours after your last use of alcohol or drugs. Withdrawal symptoms tend to peak on the second or third day followed by a gradual subsiding through the sixth or seventh day. In some cases, minor withdrawal symptoms may linger for 14 days or more.

Once your body has completely cleansed itself from those substances you were using, you will have completed the detox process. Then it becomes a question of doing whatever it takes to prevent relapse. If that means a 12-week rehab programme, then make every effort to participate. If it is determined that you would be better served by an aftercare programme, then go that route. The point is to not reject the care offered in the days and weeks following detox. It is key to helping prevent relapse.

Addiction Helper is here to assist you if you need emergency detox. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you find yourself in an emergency. We promise to get you the help you need.