Q My son is an al­co­holic who wants to stop. Why won’t the hospi­tal ad­mit him for a detox?

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Gardening -

AHeavy drinkers who sud­denly stop can get un­pleas­ant shak­ing, ag­i­ta­tion, sweat­ing, vom­it­ing and pal­pi­ta­tions. More se­ri­ously, sud­denly stop­ping can also trig­ger dan­ger­ous seizures (fits) and per­ma­nent brain dam­age due to acute vi­ta­min de­fi­ciency. A su­per­vised med­i­cal ‘detox­i­fi­ca­tion’ in­cludes high doses of ben­zo­di­azepine tran­quil­lis­ers and mul­ti­vi­ta­min supplements (of­ten given in­tra­venously), re­duc­ing over a pe­riod of days as the risks de­crease. This is usu­ally ar­ranged at home by the com­mu­nity al­co­hol ser­vices, after a pe­riod of sup­port to en­sure that the per­son is re­ally com­mit­ted to try­ing to stop; they must agree to have some­one with them at all times, and will have daily con­tact with the ser­vice. Hospi­tal detox is usu­ally only ar­ranged for peo­ple who are se­ri­ously med­i­cally and/or psy­chi­atri­cally un­well.

How­ever, many al­co­hol ex­perts be­lieve that grad­u­ally cut­ting down, with close sup­port from the com­mu­nity ser­vices, is safer and more likely to suc­ceed in the long term. This may in­clude coun­selling, sup­port groups, help with physical/men­tal­health is­sues, ben­e­fits claims, and/or med­i­ca­tion. He can find out more from nhs.uk/ con­di­tions/al­co­hol-mis­use/ treat­ment and about lo­cal ser­vices at nhs.uk/livewell/ al­co­hol/pages/al­co­hol­sup­port.

Sup­port at home may be more ef­fec­tive

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