Outpatient Alcohol Detox

Outpatient Alcohol Detox

Day Attendance at an Alcohol Detox Clinic

What is Outpatient Alcohol Detox?

Outpatient alcohol detox is a therapy that allows people to undergo non-residential alcohol withdrawals treatment by attending a site during the daytime. Sometimes called dayhab, or outpatient rehab, clients visit a doctor, detox unit or medical centre in an outpatient capacity. That is, without staying overnight like conventional residential detox or rehab treatments.

Depending on the clinic attended, people usually have around 7 days overall medical treatment (the typical treatment time for alcohol detoxification) with attendance at the clinic every day or every other day, decided between the client and doctor.

Although inpatient or residential detox can often provide a more intensive medical treatment, outpatient detox is a safe and supportive alternative for individuals with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, who can’t attend rehab due to other commitments, such as family, pets or other circumstances.

What Happens During Alcohol Detox?

Clients receive a similar level of medical treatment as they would in a residential setting, albeit they may take some medications home for an evening dose or given ‘PRN’ (Latin phrase for ‘pro re nata’), meaning as and when required.

The medical treatments are normally the same, whether a client detoxes at home, detoxes outpatient or has residential detox or rehab, which is usually an antianxiety medication regime and any other medications the doctor deems fit, to ensure the alcohol withdrawal process goes as safely and comfortably as possible.

During withdrawal, people may experience a range of symptoms as their body adjusts to the absence of alcohol. These symptoms can include anxiety, sweating, shakes or tremors, headaches, sleep issues, appetite changes, mood changes and stomach problems. Outpatient detox provides medical care and recovery support to manage these symptoms, ensuring the individual’s comfort and safety throughout the withdrawal process.

The Outpatient Detox Process

The outpatient detox process involves visiting a detox centre for appointments during the day while residing in our own home (or a hotel or other accommodation) overnight. These appointments typically occur several times a week, depending on the centre and required treatment level, and are agreed with the clinical staff. The care team, which may include doctors, nurses, counsellors and other qualified professionals, will develop a personalised treatment plan based on various factors such as mental and physical health, age, and level and extent of alcohol use.

Medications are usually used during outpatient detox to manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce any cravings and ensure your comfort and safety. Some common detox medications include benzodiazepines such as Librium to prevent or manage seizures and other anxiety-related withdrawal symptoms. Essential vitamins including thiamine, and stomach or indigestion relief are normally dosed too. Some clients receive sleeping pills to help them get through the first few nights, and painkillers should they be necessary.

In addition to medication management, your care team will monitor your physical health and mental well-being throughout the detox process.

How Long Does Outpatient Detox Last?

The average detox is seven days, although the duration of outpatient detox varies depending on several factors including overall health, the duration and extent of alcohol use and quantities, the presence of co-occurring disorders and your risk of relapse. In general, outpatient detox programs tend to last for the duration of your withdrawal symptoms, which can range from around 5 to around 10 days. For most people, a prescribed medical alcohol detox for most people lasts 7 to 10 days.

Different Options For Alcohol Detox

There are many outpatient detox clinics around the UK that clients can attend. The actual detox and the services offered vary from clinic to clinic too. Some clinics offer vitamin and mineral infusions (drips), while others provide alcohol counselling such as CBT and motivational interviewing to provide encouragement, for example.

At Detox Today, we work with many doctors and detox clinics, so the types of treatment, the facilities and therapies offered can be tailored to the client needs and often locally. We can also help courier clients to clinics and return them home, or arrange accommodation in a hotel or flat for clients to stay near the clinic whilst getting treatment.

Some treatments are also optional, so clients can simply receive medications and others may want the medications as well as other therapies including counselling and relaxation treatments such as Transcranial Electro Stimulation (TES), vitamin boosters (shots) such as Pabrinex or psychotherapy like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Although the detox may last for 7 or 10 days in general, attendance at the outpatient facility normally doesn’t last for the whole duration or even need to happen every day. Some clinics will have a set programme and others will tailor the attendance with the client to determine what best suits both parties.

More often than not, out-patient attendance is usually 3, 5 or 7 days.

Example 3-Day Outpatient Detox Regime

A 3-day outpatient detox is normally the lowest attendance clinics will offer and can be ideal for many people. This will usually involve a detox medication like Librium, vitamins and any other medications the doctor deems fit. The client will usually attend on the first, third, and fifth day of a 7- or 10-day detox. Some clinics offer 3 days in a row, where the client can get acute treatment at the start, including perhaps vitamin injections or drips to speed up and support the safe withdrawal process. Clients will also receive support from therapy staff at Detox Today during the days they don’t attend the clinic, either in-person, by phone or video call.

Example 7-Day Outpatient Detox Regime

For those seeking greater support, a seven-day attendance detox usually offers a higher-level of comprehensive support. These detox regimes can include a variety of therapies and treatments, as well as all medications and administering of these medications. Even if clients don’t want the additional therapies on offer, the supervision benefits of attending the clinic more often can be advantageous, especially if the detox is challenging and the client wishes to have greater support and peace of mind by attending a place of well-being daily. As many clinics offer customisable detoxes, with a 7-day outpatient detox, clients can include many other recovery therapies such as counselling, vibroacoustic therapy sessions (SATORI), holistic therapies, relapse prevention education, and vitamin and mineral injections and infusions for additional support, clients can have a full suite of treatments and therapies to significantly boost their recovery.

Is Outpatient Detox A Good Choice?

Determining whether outpatient detox is the right choice depends on several factors. It’s a good idea to consider your specific circumstances and speak to a medical professional or an addiction specialist, such as Detox Today, who can guide you in making an informed decision. Here are some factors to consider:

Overall Health

Client’s overall health, including any co-occurring mental or physical health issues, should be taken into account when deciding on the detox setting. People with certain health conditions, perhaps a heart condition, acute mental health issues, disability or epilepsy, for example, may require a higher level of care than outpatient detox can provide.

Living Situation

Having a safe and supportive home environment is generally beneficial for people undergoing outpatient detox. Returning to a place where you won’t be tempted to use drugs or alcohol will increase chances of success during the detox process.

Withdrawal and Relapse History

If the client has a history of relapse or has experienced severe withdrawal symptoms in the past, such as delirium tremens or seizures, it is a good idea to speak to us about an outpatient appointment as there may be adjustments that can be made, perhaps increased supervision or a sober companion attending too.

Alcohol Self Assessment

It is not up to anyone else to diagnose alcohol dependence or addiction. Individuals really need to ask themselves some questions. Most people who drink too much and have a problem, already know they have a problem. They may justify their overconsumption, but facts are facts. Some questions you might ask yourself include:

  • Do you crave or obsess about drinking alcohol when you don’t have any?
  • Are your daily life or work activities affected by your drinking habits?
  • Do you show any symptoms of alcohol addiction?
  • Has your drinking caused legal issues?
  • Is your alcohol negatively affecting your relationships?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking for a day?
If the answer to any of the above is yes, then it’s time to reach out and get some help. And, we’re here for that.

Does The NHS Offer Outpatient Alcohol Detox?

The NHS does offer detoxes for alcohol withdrawals. The first stage is to contact your GP or your local community addiction team. There is usually a waiting list, which varies depending on your location and local services. The waiting time for a detox on the NHS can be around 3 to 6 months. 

If you don’t want to, or can’t wait, or would prefer private treatment, we offer outpatient alcohol treatment services at a reasonably-priced fee – a superb alternative to NHS services. We provide clinically-sound expert addiction treatment that works. Our clients tell us that our outpatient detox programmes were an extremely important part of their recovery journey that they simply couldn’t get anything like it elsewhere.

What’s the Cost of an Outpatient Alcohol Detox?

The cost of outpatient alcohol detox attendance at a clinic varies all across the UK and by location and standard of clinic. At a base level, for a detox that includes medical consultation, prescriptions, medications and our support for the duration is around £1500. Our initial recovery assessment service is free of charge, providing you with guidance on the best direction to take for your treatment. Further options are available, including abstinence medications such as Disulfiram and Campral post-detox. Contact us to find out more.

Written by James McInally

This article was written by James McInally,
James is an addiction specialist and counsellor, mindfulness teacher, NLP practitioner, fitness instructor and well-being coach. He has helped hundreds of people overcome alcohol misuse.
Last updated on 16 August 2023

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