Home detox – supporting people to overcome alcohol addiction

Alcohol detox at home is an excellent option for most people with alcohol addiction, according to Sydney GP Dr Chris Davis in the December edition of Australian Prescriber.

Dr Davis says the majority of dependent drinkers can detox safely and successfully at home, and do not require hospital admission.

Alcohol kills over 5,500 Australians each year.

“The harms around alcohol dependence are undisputed but there is still a lack of options for treating alcohol dependency in Australia,” says Dr Davis.

“With over-burdened hospitals, and the monitoring required of the medicines prescribed to help someone overcome alcohol addiction, there are often barriers faced by those seeking medical help.

“A structured home detox program with the support of a GP is a gold-standard safe option that has high patient satisfaction rates as well as high success rates. It is important the person is closely supported by health professionals, both in the early days of the detox process and during the recovery period.”

Dr Davis writes that daily review by a GP or nurse in at least the first four days is a crucial factor for success of a home detox program.

Other important factors include the use of anti-craving medicines and ongoing psychosocial and psychological support. Accessing resources like alcohol use tracker apps, AA, SMART recovery, sobriety counters, online alcohol counselling and online support forums and blogs can also help.

“Of course, this approach doesn’t work for everyone, but there are options available so I’d encourage people to talk to their GP about the best solution for them,” said Dr Davis.

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Stephanie Childs
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Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals. It is published by NPS MedicineWise, an independent, not-for-profit organisation for quality use of medicines funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. Australian Prescriber is published every two months and is available online at nps.org.au/australianprescriber.