Contact Us
Simple, accurate health tests for the home and the workplace.

The Detox Guide – Where to detox


Where to detox

Where you detox may be decided by how fast you want to come off. If you feel able to come off quickly then most of the options on the following pages may be open to you.

At Home
If you have to look after children, go to work, want to come off slowly or can’t find (or get funding for) a residential detox then you’ll probably have to detox at home, or staying with someone.

It can be hard to make changes at home, especially when other people around you are likely to be doing what they’ve always done. The positive side of this is that wherever you detox you are probably going to have to end up staying clean at home, and by detoxing there you can deal with real situations as they happen.

Moving away
The idea of moving away from the place where you are either to be on your own, or to stay with people you know, can be attractive. You may feel like going somewhere where you don’t know people, or where to score. It does help some people, but it won’t solve all your problems.

There isn’t really anywhere in Britain where you can’t somehow get hold of opiates. Getting off opiates is about stopping taking what is there – if you don’t want to get off, you can’t move away from it to stop.

Going abroad
Sometimes getting right away for, or just after, a detox can give you a break from using that gives you extra strength when you get back, but there are opiates and other drugs available in most countries of the world – so going away is no substitute for wanting to stop using.

If you want to take prescribed drugs away with you it is important to check out the legal situation regarding getting them out of this country and getting them into the country you want to go to. You can do this by ringing Release on 020 7603 8654.

One pitfall of going abroad can be drinking cheap alcohol and switching dependence from opiates to alcohol. People who get back without any ‘straight’ days under their belt find it really hard to stay clean.

Even though opiate withdrawals can make you feel like you are dying, they are not life-threatening or physically dangerous, so most general hospitals refuse to admit people for opiate detox. Some psychiatric hospitals do admit people to general psychiatric wards for detox.

A psychiatric hospital isn’t always the perfect place to detox – other patients may have serious mental health problems – but it is warm, there are deep baths and plenty of hot water, the food is free and there are people around to talk to 24 hours a day.

Sometimes the staff are understanding and helpful and sometimes they don’t like drug users – usually it’s a mixture of both.

Specialist units
Some hospitals have a specialist unit offering detox. These can be very helpful – and people who detox in specialist units are more likely to complete the detox than those who try it at home. Some specialist units just do opiate detox; others do detoxes for people who are alcohol and/or tranquilliser dependent as well.

To be admitted to any hospital you usually have to be referred by a GP and/or your drug service.

Residential services for people with drug problems (rehabs) mainly suit people who can’t get their drug use under control and want:

  • to stop altogether and quickly;
  • to stay off forever;
  • a new way of looking at drugs; and
  • time to sort out why they are taking them.

Not all rehabs offer detox as part of the service and some require you to have been drug-free for a period before you go in.

If you are thinking about going into a residential service for people with drug problems, it will probably help if you talk to a drugs worker and/or someone from the rehab you want to go to.

Funding for rehab is provided by social services departments, so if you want funding you will have to be seen by a social services’ approved assessor or care manager – this may be a social worker, drugs worker or a probation officer.

Prisons are being encouraged to provide support and treatment for drug users in custody.

All prisons have a ‘Counselling, Advice, Referral, Assessment and Throughcare’ (CARAT) service which is responsible for organising treatment and support for prisoners, and helping them make contact with services following release.

Some prisons have flexible prescribing regimes which can include:

  • methadone maintenance;
  • methadone detox; and
  • lofexidine detox.

If you can, suss out the system at the prison you are going to before you get sent there.