Alcohol detox: what to expect

Thinking about starting an alcohol detox with us? Here's what to expect.

We’ll always offer support that’s specific to your needs

We have 80 services across England and Scotland that can support you if you are worried about your alcohol use. Whichever one you visit, you’ll find a warm welcome and non-judgmental support.

Everyone’s needs are different and there’s no one-size fits all approach. 

Although the precise details can vary, here’s roughly what you can expect when you visit us for the first time for support with alcohol use.

The important thing is that our services are a safe place. There’s no need to feel guilty, secretive or ashamed when you come to see us. We are here to help you understand your situation and how we can help you.

These feelings are natural - but we promise that we’ll listen to you with an open mind, and never criticise.

If you're alcohol dependent...

or think you might be, it’s important that you don’t stop drinking suddenly, as this could lead to very dangerous alcohol withdrawal complications.

For support with cutting down your alcohol intake safely:

Find a service near you

Your first visit

During your first visit, we’ll take some time to get to know you. We’ll listen to you and treat everything you tell us with strict confidence.

We’ll ask about:

  • where you’re currently at: how much you drink and how you feel about it
  • your goals: whether that’s cutting down or stopping altogether
  • your history with alcohol: including any detoxes you’ve done in the past

We’ll also ask about your health. If you’re registered with a GP, we’ll get your permission to ask them about your medical history, including any blood tests you’ve had recently and any medicines you take.

We may ask questions about your past that could be upsetting. But we’ll always do our best to be kind and supportive, without judging you.

If you look after children, we may need to share information with other agencies if there are any concerns for their safety. But we’ll always talk to you about this before we share any information.

How we’ll work with you

When you join one of our services, you'll be allocated a named person, or worker, who will work closely with you.

Usually, we’ll let you know who your worker is during your first visit. If not, we’ll put you in touch with them as soon as we can.

From then your worker will work with you to find the best package of care and support for you in regularly scheduled appointments.

Every worker is different, and their approaches can vary. But whoever they are, your worker will understand where you’re coming from.

All of our workers are trained and knowledgeable about working with people with alcohol problems. Many of them also have lived experience.

It’s important to know that your worker isn’t an emergency service, and they won’t necessarily be able to speak to you outside of your scheduled appointments. But there will usually be someone on duty at the service who you can speak to during their opening hours.

You can also speak to our online chat team for advice and support whenever you need it - even if you haven’t come into a service yet.

Your worker can also put you in touch with other services to help with other things going on in your life, like debt, housing or medical problems.

What happens next

The treatment you’ll get depends on your needs. Your worker will discuss your options with you and come up with a plan of the care you’ll receive.

It could involve:

  • support to reduce your drinking to a safer level
  • a home detox, with support from your worker
  • a hospital detox

If you would like a family member or friend to be involved in your care, or an advocate to support you, please let us know.

Detox may be provided by another provider and there may be a waiting list for some kinds of treatment - but your worker will be there to support you in the meantime. We’ll stick with you for as long as it takes to reach your goals.

We may prescribe different kinds of medication to help you, based on your needs. We’ll also help you plan to deal with triggers, lapses and other setbacks

Visit a service

Visiting one of our services is a great first step. They’re always free and confidential.

Find your local WithYOu service

In the meantime, you can also talk to a trained recovery worker.

Need some extra support?

It's always better together.

If you're finding it difficult to stay free of alcohol or drugs and you'd like some extra support, we're here for you. We can help you cut down, make less risky choices or stop using altogether.

Search for your local service to see how we can help you.

Finding services

1-2 miles - Considered within walking distance threshold, however, cycling, public transport, or a personal vehicle is advised if no safe walking routes.
10-15 miles - Generally between a minimum of 30 mins to 1 hour travel time expected via public transport or personal vehicle. This may depend on form of transport, time of day and/or road layouts.
20-25 miles - Generally between a minimum of 50 minutes to 1.5 hours travel time expected via public transport or personal vehicle. This may depend on form of transport, time of travel and/or road layouts