Alcohol Detox – what are the options?
Bayberry offers our one, preferred, method of detoxing from alcohol. But there are several options available. Here, we look at the varying methods – together with the pros and cons of each – to help you make an informed decision about what is best for you.
- In-Patient, Medically-Assisted Detox – Bayberry’s Detox Option
This is Bayberry’s method and the only form of detox we offer. Whichever of our clinics you choose, this is the alcohol detox (if you need one) that you will be offered. The detox is led and overseen by our own doctors.
It starts with an assessment with our doctor. The doctor looks at the medical information gathered ahead of the assessment and talks to you about your drinking patterns and consumption. There is no judgement – the doctor purely needs to understand this in order to create the detox programme customised to your individual needs. Based on this consultation, the doctor will usually prescribe a course of medication. Additionally, the doctor will review your current medications and discuss any other options that you might like to discuss. The doctors take their time to talk to you, gather information, explain the process and answer any questions. There is no rush.
The detox medication is taken orally (in tablet form). Timings are managed by our in-house team, so clients do not need to monitor their own medications. The doctors also make arrangements for medication to be adjusted, to suit your needs and comfort, during the detox. Bayberry has immediate access to a range of detox medications, so there is no delay once a course has been prescribed. Our aim is to keep you comfortable from as soon as you arrive with us.
The medications may make you feel sleepy. Most people do not find detox to be unpleasant, and are reassured by lots of support from the team and peers. During early detox, it is your choice if you would like to rest during the day, or if you would like to start participating with the psychological programme straight away. If you’d like to spend some time resting in bed, our staff will look after you – bring your meals and drinks and medications to your room, keep you company if you would like to chat, or let you rest quietly. You have a TV in your room and all sites have free wifi for clients, to help you to feel relaxed and at home.
Depending on your alcohol consumption, our detox is usually completed between 7 and 10 days.
- This method guarantees that you will be 100% detoxed within a specified time, if you remain with us and adhere to the programme.
- Admission can be arranged very quickly.
- You may self-refer (no GP referral required, as our own doctors will assess your needs).
- You can maintain confidentiality – and although we do advise sharing treatment information with your own GP, this is entirely your choice and your participation with our programme does not have to form part of your medical record.
- It is supervised by our medical team and you are supported 24/7 by our support team.
- During detox, you are offered continuous psychological support and a structured programme to address the source of the problematic drinking, using your time constructively to support your long term recovery.
- Bayberry’s programme includes a free, 3 year aftercare programme, that continues to support you in the longer term – providing twice weekly group check-ins (via our online live environment) with other Bayberry clients and the Bayberry team.
- Inpatient detox also provides some respite and emotional recovery for family members who have been providing care and support to this point – and is often described as a helpful and positive space. Family members are kept up to date by our team and visits can be arranged. Phone and internet use is permitted within the clinics, to enable you to keep in touch. (Privacy rules apply).
Cons – Private treatment comes at a cost. We encourage clients to look at the day rate – which we believe is highly cost-effective and starts from less than £360 per day, inpatient and fully inclusive of accommodation, full board and drinks, medical support, prescription medications, psychological programme, 24/7 support, spa access and holistic programme. Post-discharge, subject to completion of the programme, your 3 year aftercare programme is free of charge. It is an all-inclusive rate and we believe it provides excellent value for money.
2. Community medicated detox
Bayberry doesn’t offer community medicated detox, but this is available in the community and can be signposted by your GP. If you are considered suitable, you would be prescribed medication and provided with instructions to manage this yourself, at home.
Pros – costs would normally only extend to prescription fees.
Cons – You would need to manage your own recovery and adhere to the instructions provided. You would need to monitor your own progress and be aware of potential issues that would need to be referred to your GP. Having someone supportive at home (such as a partner) is advised, but this process can also be emotionally difficult for a partner or family member, who may already be feeling emotionally drained.
NHS guidance suggests that medically assisted detox alone has poorer outcomes in remaining abstinent, and better outcomes are achieved with psychological support at the same time, and continuing post-detox.
3. Non-medicated detox
Essentially, a detox is the process of moving from a state of alcohol consumption, to being free of alcohol. This is often achieved with medication support (as described above) but can be achieved without prescription medication. Firstly, you should NEVER simply stop drinking without consulting your doctor. NICE guidelines recommend reduction of no more than 10% of your usual consumption per week – but this should be discussed honestly and openly with your GP first as other medical factors will also be considered. Bayberry does not offer this method simply because it takes a long time, and we would not have alcohol on site to facilitate the process. Not everyone is physically (physiologically) addicted to alcohol. But if your drinking is problematic and your consumption is regularly exceeding recommended amounts, there is a risk of physiological addiction. If this is the case, a sudden stop or dramatic reduction of consumption comes with side effect risks, including a risk of seizure, which can be life-threatening. You should discuss your plan with a supportive GP and be prepared to be honest about your consumption (particularly with yourself) and strictly adhere to the instructions provided.
Pros – No cost – no medications or inpatient treatment required.
Cons – Takes a long time, must be followed precisely and under strict medical supervision. Motivation can be challenging, and opportunity for relapse is high.
4. NHS hospital detox and A&E attendance
Although hospitals of course have the professional and clinical ability to detox patients, this is not something that is routinely offered in NHS hospitals and is generally only provided if a patient has been admitted for an acute (non detox related) issue and the hospital needs to provide this adjunct to other treatment for patient safety. For example, if a client has been admitted for a different issue and begins exhibiting withdrawal symptoms, the medical team would be likely to consider treatment of this. But we are unaware of any process of GP hospital referral, nor A&E access to general hospital detox services. Further, this would not come with any concurrent psychological support.
If a client is inpatient with Bayberry and needs to be transferred to hospital with an unrelated issue (for example, a kidney stone), the hospital would continue our detox during treatment, and transfer back to our facilities as soon as hospital treatment is complete. This ensures seamless provision of treatment services and our local hospitals are extremely supportive of our work and we have an excellent professional relationship.
5. NHS Detox Centres (In-patient Units)
The NHS does offer some specialist detox centres – in 2019 there were 5, but we understand this has now reduced to 4 and the facilities remaining are under threat due to funding cuts. NHS reports that, combined, there are less than 100 beds available throughout England. The facilities are based in Liverpool, Maidstone, Bristol and Manchester and a recent report suggested that occupancy of 85 to 90% was common – with average inpatient stays of 7 weeks. We are unable to advise specifically on accessibility and waiting times – so we would recommend discussing options with your GP, or reviewing more information (with location details) here: https://www.nhsapa.org/post/ipn-press-release
Pros: connected to, or integrated within, main hospitals, with the capacity to support complex and acute physical issues concurrently. Led by specialist Consultant Addiction Psychiatrists, which the service indicates is rare (Bayberry’s Consultant is also a Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist with a substantive local NHS leadership post, so we understand this value, particularly in complex detox cases). No cost (although there are a small number of private beds available).
Cons: Availability and location. Securing a bed may require a significant wait, and the small number of facilities means that this can sometimes become what is termed a ‘postcode lottery’ with regard to accessing services.
6. Other private, residential treatment services
There are other private treatment services, offering inpatient medically supported detox and you may wish to compare facilities. We are happy to provide specific details of any area of our treatment, but some frequent comparisons include:
- Doctors: Bayberry’s doctors and consultants have been working with us for many years and are highly experienced. They are responsive to Bayberry’s client’s needs and work closely with our wider staff team. Bayberry clients are not registered as temporary patients of a local NHS surgery, but cared for by our private GP and private Consultant Psychiatrist, as appropriate. This is even more important, in the post-Covid world, due to challenges in accessing NHS GP services.
- Medications: Bayberry’s fee includes all medications prescribed for your treatment.
- Psychological Team: Bayberry has significantly qualified (graduate and post-graduate) psychologists and psychotherapists who are experts in problematic alcohol use and adjunct mental health and emotional needs. Bayberry transparently publishes, on our website, the full names and specific qualifications and professional accreditations of our psychological staff team, who can be cross-referenced against their professional registers. Our programme caters for complex mental health and emotional needs and we treat problematic alcohol use as a side effect (not as a primary presentation) – so we are supporting you to address the cause, not just the consumption.
- Frequency/Variety of Programme Sessions and Client Choice: This is what has always made us unique. Bayberry offers three different programmes, across three different clinics (geographically close to one another) designed to provide clients with a tailored choice of the treatment they would like. The quality of our psychological and medical care is the same regardless of our clinic chosen – the difference is related to whether you would like your treatment entirely as one to one therapy (you and a therapist, with no group sessions), a mixture of group sessions and one to one sessions, or purely group sessions. There is also choice in room types and additional experience facilities, to suit your needs. Programmes run 6 days per week, with sessions structured through the day, with breaks. Additional activities (such as spa visits and fitness) are also included.
- Aftercare. We believe we offer the most comprehensive and lengthiest aftercare programme available in the UK. Our aftercare programme is only open to Bayberry clients and has the added benefit of Bayberry staff in attendance to support and facilitate the group. All clients completing their inpatient programmes receive 3 years’ free aftercare as standard – and regular attendees benefit from extensions to this, free of charge, from year 3 and beyond, indefinitely. We would never remove this support from a client that is benefitting from this continued community. (The reason we do not simply say ‘lifetime’ aftercare is that it would be unfair to the group if someone attended who hadn’t been part of the group in many years, however if a client wishes to reconnect with us, this can be facilitated.) Some clients attend a few sessions, some attend for a few months, some for years – and there are others that still attend regularly after many, many years and look forward to their weekly check-ins with this supportive group who have shared their journey. Our staff team is long-standing – so clients also benefit from catching up with the same team that supported them during treatment.
- Modality. Modalities are ‘types’ of psychological treatment. There are many modalities. Bayberry utilises a multitude – because we believe that no one style suits every person. Our clinical team represents diverse specialisms to support this. Some facilities may describe themselves as ‘12 Step’. This is based on the format of Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 Step is not a clinical programme – and might be facilitated by support staff or peers in recovery. Bayberry is not a 12 step facility – we offer full psychological programmes and our clinical team are qualified to degree level or above, with most at post-graduate (Masters and Doctoral) level. An article in The Atlantic offers insight and additional links regarding this subject: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/04/the-irrationality-of-alcoholics-anonymous/386255/ Bayberry offers its own community support, post-discharge, for our clients – providing a consistency of the group, all of whom have benefitted from our programme and this shared experience.
- Secular vs Spiritual Some other facilities are faith-based. Some are secular (not faith based). Bayberry is secular – and welcomes people of all faiths, no faith and indifference to faith. However, we also appreciate that personal spirituality – in whatever form that takes – can be important for many people; and can be particularly so during the exploration for meaning during therapy. How we contextualise the therapeutic journey is driven by the client – and this can include faith, belief and philosophy. We have no agenda – we enter your world-view, to explore with you.
- Want to chat more? Our admissions manager, Melanie, is happy to talk to you further about the alcohol detoxification process of our service , without obligation, and can be reached at our freephone number: 0800 690 6366. Our lines are open 24/7.
Bayberry has provided this information to help you as you explore options. However, we strongly advise that if you are not engaging with our inpatient detox programme, that you first contact your own GP to discuss your plans and seek support. If you are considering Bayberry’s detox programme, our doctors will offer this support to you as part of the process.
Local? If you’re in Solihull, Coventry, Birmingham, Knowle, Shirley or anywhere in Warwickshire or the West Midlands, we’re really close by and easy to access – and we can arrange local visits, without obligation, to meet us and see our facilities. Alcohol detox is often a difficult and emotional decision – we have been providing support for nearly 14 years in the heart of England and are here to help you.