NHS Detox

Updated February 21, 2017

According to information from the National Health Service’s (NHS) website, individual detox plans are available for people in the United Kingdom affected by drug and alcohol addiction. Working with a variety of medical professionals, people affected by substance abuse receive additional care, such as counselling, in addition to detox services.


The NHS is the U.K.’s publicly funded health service, which has been in existence since 1948. The NHS website reports the aim of the service is to supply each resident of the U.K. with access to health care services regardless of economic circumstances. The NHS is one of the largest publicly funded health services in the world, with a budget of around £91 billion per year raised through national taxation.


The ADMIT substance abuse information website explains a detox to be the removal of harmful substances, such as alcohol and drugs from the human body. ADMIT reports that the removal of certain substances, such as alcohol, can produce harmful side effects within the body, making the monitoring of the detox by medical professionals important.


The NHS provides two types of detox services for people who seek help in ending their substance abuse. According to the NHS website, community and inpatient detox plans are available to U.K. residents. Community-based detox plans require a patient to remain in the community at large and have their levels of the abused substance reduced slowly by attending outpatient services. An inpatient detox treatment is provided in a medical facility or in a rehabilitation centre with detox facilities. An inpatient detox takes place over a period of two to three weeks, with the patient's access to the abused substance reduced much more quickly than in a community-based program. Following an inpatient detox program, a patient often spends time in a residential rehabilitation centre to reduce the chances of relapse.


Before entering one of the NHS detox programs, a patient is assessed by a general practitioner or local treatment service, according to the NHS website. Each patient receives an individual plan designed to begin the process of detox and of bringing the patient's addiction under control. The first step in the process for a substance such as an opiate is to stabilise the use of the drug by introducing a substitute, such as methadone. By stabilising the drug use, a patient can begin the detox process by stopping the use of illegal drugs and reducing the need for illegal behaviour to fund a drug habit.


The NHS offers a number of therapies as part of its detox programs to reduce the chances of a relapse and return to substance abuse habits. The NHS website reports that counselling is available for individuals and families to attempt to discover the cause of an addiction and the eventual outcomes.

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About the Author

Paul Cartmell began his career as a writer for documentaries and fictional films in the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s. Working in documentary journalism, Cartmell wrote about a wide variety of subjects including racism in professional sports. Cartmell attended the University of Lincoln and London Metropolitan University, gaining degrees in journalism and film studies.