What Medications Are Used In Alcohol Detox?

Published by Raffa Bari | Last updated: 30th January 2023 | All Sources

What Medications Are Used In Alcohol Detox?

For someone who’s abusing alcohol or experiencing the signs of alcoholism, withdrawal will be essential in order to recover, get clean and remain sober. An alcohol detoxification process will be recommended to motivate physical withdrawal.

Although detoxing is attempted through a cold turkey approach, mostly alone and from home, a medically assisted process is a much more beneficial option. Making use of replacement medications and supportive therapies, an assisted alcohol withdrawal process is not only easier to complete but also carries higher success rates.

Alcohol detox is expectedly difficult, as withdrawal symptoms are common and as an instant change can be difficult to digest. Yet with medical intervention, sobriety can be an expected result, followed on by further help and treatment.

Here’s some insight into the benefits of an assisted withdrawal process as we answer, ‘what medications are used in alcohol detox?’. At Cassiobury Court, we offer safe and reliable detoxification plans and treatment programmes, to work through any degree of alcohol dependency.


What is alcohol detox?

Alcohol detox is a clinical treatment that helps to promote withdrawal. It’s recommended for people who hope to lower their alcohol intake, or for those who are looking to stop intake by giving up alcohol.  The detoxification process delivers the chance to work through withdrawal in a safe and productive way.

Attempting to reduce or stop alcohol intake, alone, can be difficult and dangerous, which is why alcohol detox is a recommended service for all clients. Alcohol detox is instead a medically assisted treatment, meaning that 24/7 medical observations and intervention are expected. In place to ease withdrawal symptoms and the detachment process, detoxing through rehab is safe and is purpose-driven.

Without a structured detox process in place, withdrawal symptoms and health risks can be unbearable and hazardous. Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms and risks include:

  • Physical symptoms, such as nausea, high blood pressure, vomiting, headaches
  • Psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability
  • Risks of hallucinations
  • Risks of delirium tremens
  • Risks of alcohol withdrawal syndrome
  • Intense cravings
  • Risks of relapse

Medications are used throughout the detox process as replacement drugs, to ease withdrawal and to make it easier to remain sober. Opting for a structured detox process is highly beneficial, helping to avoid the above risks through observation, intervention, and long-term management.

Various types of medications are available on prescription, recommended on a per-client basis. Here’s some more insight into the most common as we consider, ‘what medications are used in alcohol detox?’.


What medications are used in alcohol detox?

Some of the medications used throughout a detox will be effective, whilst others will carry minimal effects. Some will also be safe, whilst others will not be prescribed due to health risks. It’s therefore essential to receive an accurate prescription and to avoid self-medicating throughout withdrawal.

The process must be observed, as some medications can be hazardous whilst mixed with alcohol. Others can be risky whilst paired with additional medications/health concerns. Some are also addictive, which must be considered on consumption.

Below are some of the most commonly prescribed detox medications, recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).


Prescribed to stabilise brain functionality and signalling, Acamprosate is a detox medication that can be used for the short term. It helps to reduce the justification of alcohol consumption by blocking the effects of alcohol. It’s extremely effective whilst working through sobriety as it is found to reduce relapse risks and helps to restore neurological balance.



Also known as Benzos, Benzodiazepine drugs are minor tranquilisers that help to manage neurological symptoms, such as seizures and delirium tremens. They are mostly prescribed through chronic withdrawal. The medication helps to increase the production of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in the central nervous system, offering a calming effect. Medications such as Benzos are helpful whilst detoxing from alcohol, yet can be addictive, so must be prescribed for short bouts.



Categorised as an opioid antagonist, Naltrexone is a replacement medication that helps to reduce alcohol cravings. It blocks the positive effects of alcohol, in place to reduce the desirability of consumption. It’s used in active withdrawal and also whilst managing alcohol withdrawal for the long term. Whilst effective for some, it can cause some unpleasant effects.



As mental health issues are common through alcoholism, antidepressants are used to treat any psychological side effects. Depression, anxiety, and further panic-like symptoms are expected through withdrawal. Antidepressant medications are also effective whilst treating dual diagnosis.


Benefits of medically assisted alcohol withdrawal

Whilst there are many different types of medications in place to assist with the detoxification process, the benefits of a medically assisted withdrawal are concurrent.

A medically assisted alcohol withdrawal process is:

  • Safe: Delivered with 24/7 medical advice and care in place. It’s also reassuring by prioritising health and wellbeing throughout addiction recovery.
  • Progressive and productive:  An alcohol detox can be completed with efficiency in mind and can increase the chance to reach and maintain sobriety.
  • Comfortable and easing: Medical intervention helps to control withdrawal symptoms and offers a pain-free detox.
  • Delivered with specialist assistance: Specialist care is offered throughout CQC treatment facilities.
  • Successful throughout alcohol detox: Completion rates are much higher when experienced with medical assistance.
  • Linked to additional treatment services: Further addiction treatments can be completed on a post-detox basis, to treat further symptoms and associations of alcoholism.
  • Supportive across the planning stage, detox process and long-term recovery process: Medical advice and medications can be offered throughout the entire process.

Whilst the use of medications may feel risky whilst detoxing from an existing addictive substance, through a controlled and accredited environment, personal prescriptions can be highly beneficial. Alcohol detox medications can be used throughout recovery, observed, and recommended by medical professionals.


Where to get further help for alcohol addiction

Withdrawing from alcohol will be necessary in order to overcome cravings and to get clean. Yet detoxing alone will not be enough whilst aiming for long-term sobriety. Therapy and a full rehabilitation programme will need to be worked through. Through alcohol rehab, personalised treatment programmes are offered on a post-detox basis.

Therapy sessions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy are recommended, along with lifestyle intervention and relapse prevention planning. At Cassiobury Court, we offer personalised treatment plans, whilst also incorporating 12-step programmes, support groups, holistic therapies, and aftercare.

Alcohol detox and withdrawal can be tough, as additional treatment sessions. Yet with medical and professional assistance, the process can be eased and benefited from. Reach out for more information on ‘what medications are used in alcohol detox?’, along with arranging your detox via our rehab facility.


Raffa Bari

Raffa Bari - Author Last updated: 30th January 2023

CQC Registered Manager

Raffa manages the day to day caring services here at Cassiobury Court. Dedicated to the treatment and well being of our visitors she is an outstanding mental health coach registered with BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists). Raffa has outstanding experience in managing rehabs across the country and is vastly experienced at helping people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.