Comprehensive approach to addiction treatment begins with medical detox. This is a crucial first step in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and will give you a clean slate and a clear head to tackle the underlying issues that contributed to your addiction. Detox can be a difficult process, but our expert medical team will develop your personal detox plan and oversee every step of the process.

At UKAT London Clinic, our therapy approach is rooted in years of accumulated experience and expertise. We offer vital support to those who have completed detox or perceive a risk of relapse during or post-detox. Our cohesive team of multidisciplinary experts is committed to empowering individuals to conquer addiction, maintain recovery, and attain comprehensive well-being.


What is detox?

Detox is the process of removing or purging unwanted toxins from your body. Generally, this can mean anything from adopting a specific diet to rid your body of fat or sugar to “sweating out” impurities in a sauna or steam room. Whatever the case, detox practices are usually designed to improve overall health and vitality by supporting the body’s natural processes of cleansing and renewal.

Medical detox for addiction recovery

In the context of addiction, detox takes on a more specific and significant role in the recovery process. A detox programme involves the medically supervised elimination of addictive substances from your body. This is intended to address the physical aspects of addiction and begin the process of healing from the damage done by substance abuse.

At its simplest, detox can involve simply ceasing to use drugs or alcohol and allowing the body to recover gradually. However, for those addicted to drugs or alcohol, this can be problematic and potentially even dangerous as their bodies and brains have become dependent on the substances to function. This dependence can result in significant changes in brain chemistry, which can be thrown out of balance by sudden cessation and cause unpleasant and health-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

Medical detox is designed to manage these symptoms of withdrawal until all of the drugs or alcohol have been cleared from the system and the individual’s physical and mental health has stabilised.

The critical stages of medical detox

Detox is a highly personalised, multi-stage process. Delivered by an expert medical team, with each stage critical for the safety and effectiveness of drug and alcohol detox:


Upon entry into detox, a comprehensive assessment is conducted to determine the client’s physical and mental health. This includes screening for the presence of substances in the bloodstream and evaluating medical history and current health status.

The evaluation step allows for a bespoke, adaptable detox plan to be created, ensuring the detox process is tailored to each individual’s needs.


This is the main phase of detox, where medical and psychological support is provided to manage withdrawal symptoms safely. Depending on the substance involved and the severity of dependency, this may involve gradual tapering of dosage, medication-assisted treatment to ease discomfort and prevent potential complications and nutritional support to help restore physical health.

It’s vital the detox team continuously monitors progress throughout the stabilisation phase and adjusts treatments as necessary. This may include altering medication dosages, providing additional psychological support or addressing any emergent medical issues. The goal is to maintain stability while preparing the individual for the next recovery phase.

Transition to further treatment

One of the biggest breakthroughs in addiction recovery is the understanding that detox is not a stand-alone treatment but rather the first step in a comprehensive plan. After detox, it’s best to transition into rehab therapy programmes that address the psychological roots of addiction. UKAT London Clinic’s programmes combine the latest scientific insights with cutting-edge therapeutic methods to provide a deep, exploratory experience.

The importance of medically assisted detox

Undergoing detox can be a daunting prospect, and many people are tempted to try a “cold turkey” detox at home. While this can work for individuals who are not physically or psychologically dependent, there are a number of reasons why medical drug and alcohol detox is both the most effective and safest option:

Safe management of withdrawal symptoms

Detoxing from substances such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Medically-assisted detox provides a safe environment where these symptoms can be managed with the aid of medications and medical monitoring.

Reduction of relapse risk

One of the main challenges during detox is the strong urge to use the substance again to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. In addition to frustrating sobriety attempts, relapsing after a period of sobriety can also be potentially dangerous as tolerance will have dropped, making overdose more likely.

In a medically observed setting, the use of pharmacological support not only eases these symptoms but also reduces cravings, significantly lowering the risk of relapse during the alcohol or drug detox phase.

Psychological support

At UKAT London Clinic, our team includes mental health professionals who offer psychological support and begin addressing underlying issues related to drug and alcohol addiction. This integrated approach is vital as it prepares individuals for the next steps in their recovery journey, focusing on long-term strategies for dealing with addiction.

Structured environment

Inpatient detox provides a structured environment that removes the individual from potential triggers and opportunities to use. This controlled and confidential setting is crucial during the vulnerable phase of detox when individuals are at a heightened risk for relapse. The structured schedule and professional support make it easier to focus solely on recovery without the distractions or temptations of the outside world.

Drug and alcohol withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly among individuals, influenced by factors such as the type of substance used, the duration and intensity of use, individual health status and personal motivation. The experience of withdrawal can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely debilitating and, in some cases, can be life-threatening without medical assistance. Understanding these differences is crucial for managing expectations and preparing for a safe detox process.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from alcohol can begin as early as a few hours after the last consumption and can vary in severity. Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:


  • Mild symptoms: Anxiety, sweating, nausea, insomnia, headaches and palpitations.
  • Moderate symptoms: Increased blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, increased body temperature and confusion.
  • Severe symptoms (Delirium Tremens): Hallucinations, severe confusion, seizures and significant agitation. This condition requires immediate medical intervention as it can be life-threatening.


The management of alcohol withdrawal is critical, and alcohol detox often involves medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications. Alcohol withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, with the peak intensity typically occurring within the first 24 to 72 hours. However, individual experiences may vary, and some people may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), a protracted withdrawal process that requires ongoing medical support.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms

Opioids include prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illegal substances such as heroin and fentanyl. Withdrawal symptoms from opioids include:


  • Physical symptoms: Muscle aches, sweating, abdominal cramping, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.
  • Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, irritability, insomnia and depression.
  • Severe cases: Intense cravings for the drug, which can greatly increase the risk of relapse and overdose if not medically supported and supervised.


Medication-assisted treatment can be used to alleviate these symptoms and facilitate a smoother transition into recovery. Opioid withdrawal can be very intense, usually beginning within a few hours to a day after the last dose and peaking within 72 hours. However, symptoms may persist for several days to weeks, depending on factors such as the type and amount of opioid used, as well as individual differences in metabolism and tolerance.

Stimulant withdrawal symptoms

Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine and prescription drugs for conditions like ADHD lead to distinct withdrawal symptoms, primarily psychological. These include:


  • Psychological symptoms: Depression, fatigue, changes in appetite, mood changes, vivid and unpleasant dreams and sleep disturbances.
  • Physical symptoms: The physical symptoms are usually less severe but can include headaches and muscular pains.


The treatment of stimulant withdrawal usually focuses on psychological support and, in some cases, medications to manage depression and behavioural issues. Stimulant withdrawal timelines vary between different substances, but the acute phase usually peaks within the first few days and gradually improves over time.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, commonly used for anxiety or as sleeping aids, can be particularly challenging and dangerous. The management of benzodiazepine withdrawal requires careful monitoring and support, as sudden discontinuation or rapid tapering of the medication can increase the risk of severe symptoms and complications. Potential withdrawal symptoms include:


  • Physical symptoms: Tremors, sweating and muscle stiffness.
  • Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.
  • Severe cases: Seizures, psychosis and hallucinations.


Due to the severity and potential complications of benzodiazepine withdrawal, a gradual tapering of the medication is usually required, often under strict medical supervision. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is also potentially the most protracted, lasting for weeks to months, with symptoms persisting long after the acute withdrawal phase has ended. This initial phase is crucial for setting a positive trajectory for long-term recovery.


Understanding the varied and potentially severe nature of withdrawal symptoms is essential for preparing for detox.

The importance of addiction detox medications

To address the challenges of withdrawal effectively, UKAT London Clinic utilises various medications as part of our drug and alcohol detox protocol. These medications are chosen and administered by our medical team based on a thorough assessment of each individual’s medical history, substance use patterns and withdrawal symptoms. Some of the key uses of detox medications include:

Symptom management

Our medical team closely monitors each client’s symptoms and administers medications as needed to alleviate physical and psychological distress. Whether it is addressing nausea, insomnia, anxiety or seizures, our goal is to ensure that clients feel as comfortable and supported as possible during detox.

Reduction of craving

Cravings for drugs or alcohol can be intense during detox and greatly increase the risk of relapse. Medications that target cravings help reduce the urge to use substances, making it easier for clients to focus on their recovery goals and stay committed to sobriety.

Physical stabilisation

Certain substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can disrupt the body’s natural balance and lead to dangerous fluctuations in vital signs. Medications can be used to stabilise physiological functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, reducing the risk of complications such as seizures or cardiac events.

Prevention of complications

Complications during detox can arise suddenly and escalate rapidly if not promptly addressed. Medications are administered proactively to prevent potential complications, such as severe agitation, hallucinations or delirium tremens. By intervening early and effectively, our medical team minimises the risk of medical emergencies and ensures a smoother detoxification experience for clients.

Support for mental health

Detox can exacerbate underlying mental health conditions or precipitate new psychological symptoms. Medications targeting mood disorders, anxiety or other mental health issues help stabilise clients’ emotional well-being and enhance their ability to cope with the challenges of withdrawal.

At UKAT London Clinic, our medical team is committed to providing individualised care and support, ensuring that each client receives the treatment best suited to their unique needs and circumstances.

How UKAT can help you

At UKAT, we offer comprehensive detoxification programmes at our centres across the UK, coupled with supplementary therapy support at our London Clinic, which provides a holistic approach to recovery.
By integrating detox services with additional therapeutic interventions, we aim to address not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the underlying psychological and emotional factors. This combination fosters a supportive environment for individuals seeking to overcome substance dependency, promoting long-term recovery and overall well-being. With a commitment to personalised care and evidence-based practices, we strive to empower individuals on their journey toward sobriety, offering the tools and support necessary for lasting positive change.

Contact us today to see how we can help you throughout your detox and recovery journey.

Works cited

(Click here to see works cited)

close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0808 250 2626