Participating in the Detox@Home program
You've made the very important decision to change your alcohol use. This page explains more about detoxing, what you can expect from the Detox@Home team and what we expect from you, to give you the best chance to achieve your goals.
There's a lot of information and strategies that can help with a detox. We've put together a few but don't be afraid to ask questions.
Before detoxing at home
The Detox@Home team, including a doctor, will work with you and your support person to develop a treatment plan and do an assessment before the detox commences. This will be a week or two before treatment so there is time to plan and time for you and your support person to get organised, for example, by taking time off work.
Talk to the Detox@Home team about the detox process, how we and your support person can best help you, what to expect from the withdrawal, common withdrawal symptoms, and how long these might last.
Try to make sure that there are no drugs or alcohol in the house, so you won’t be tempted.
Try to make your home as peaceful as possible and let others know that you will probably not be feeling your best for a few days. If there are children, plan how they will be cared for during the detox. Discourage people who use alcohol/ drugs from visiting.
During the detox at home
The Detox@Home team will provide support to you and your support person during the detox, including medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms. There will be daily face- to-face contact with the Detox@Home team and daily telephone support as well.
Using alcohol, other drugs, and medications not prescribed whilst detoxing is not permitted.
As part of treatment, you will be breathalysed daily and, if positive, the detox will be stopped. You may be able to do another detox later. Talk about pathways with the Detox@Home team or your Case Manager.
A urine drug test may also be done. If positive for drug(s) that we have not been told about, the detox may need to stop.
To get the best outcomes from the detox:
- attend all appointments
- stay the full duration of the detox
- take the time to recover
- take medications as prescribed by the Detox@Home team.
During detox, you may experience forgetfulness, be irritable, have poor coordination and concentration, and the medication can make you feel drowsy.
This is where your support person is important and can help with cooking and doing household tasks. You shouldn’t drive or operate machinery whilst detoxing.
What withdrawal symptoms could I experience?
When a person stops using alcohol, the body and mind take time to adjust. People withdrawing from alcohol often experience shaking, anxiety, feeling jumpy and nervous, feeling irritable, sweating, nausea, racing thoughts and disrupted sleep.
Medication can help in reducing some of these, as may some of the other suggestions, but there will be some discomfort.
For some people, withdrawal symptoms can be more severe, including for example:
- blacking out
If you experience any severe symptoms, please contact the Detox@Home team or seek immediate assistance by ringing 000 or going to the nearest Hospital Emergency Department.
Having a support person at home with you to assist you if you are experiencing detox symptoms is important.
What medications will be used?
Going “cold turkey” can make withdrawal very uncomfortable, and for alcohol it can be very risky. You will be prescribed diazepam (also known as Valium). This is usually quite safe but might make you feel a bit drowsy. This will be given to your support person with instructions on how and when to administer.
The Detox@Home team may also recommend other medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms, include a course of Vitamin B (thiamine) to protect against nerve and brain damage from thiamine deficiency.
What else can help?
Eating and drinking may help with cravings. Eat small amounts of ‘light’ food (such as soup, rice, noodles, vegetables, and fruit). Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Detoxing can be stressful, so taking some time out will be important. It is also helpful to have something to do to distract from any cravings.
Cravings are normal and are not a sign of lack of willpower or failure. Use of list of D's:
- Do an activity such as watch a video, play cards.
- Delay – if the thought to give up on detox occurs, put off the decision for at least an hour.
- Drink plenty of fluids – especially water.
- Discuss with someone your reasons for stopping.
- Do some gentle exercise such as walking, stretching exercises, yoga, Tai Chi, or ease aches and pains by having warm baths.
Withdrawing from alcohol does not mean you are no longer dependent. You will need further support after the detox. This will be part of the treatment plan and will be organised prior to your detox.
Preventing relapse is part of any good alcohol treatment plan and is essential for after a detox. This is about putting things in place to support the change and recognising a lapse if one occurs. It is important to know that a lapse is part of the treatment journey and not a failure. A lapse can help develop further ideas to manage cravings, triggers, and other reasons for using.