Detoxing from alcohol at home can be a risky process, especially for people with a history of alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder – due to effects of withdrawal.
Alcohol withdrawal can be mild to severe in nature. And in the worst of cases, withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening without medical intervention.
Here you’ll find information on:
- side effects of alcohol detox
- what to expect from alcohol detox
- risks and dangers of at-home alcohol detox
- when to seek a medical detox program
Can You Detox From Alcohol At Home?
Alcohol detoxification (detox) is a process that can have serious consequences, if attempted alone without the supervision and support of healthcare professionals.
While it’s possible to attempt detox from home, this is not recommended for anyone who has alcohol dependence or a history of addiction.
Signs of alcohol dependence include:
- frequent, heavy alcohol consumption
- drinking during the day
- relying on alcohol to feel “normal”
- constantly thinking about alcohol
- unable to reduce or stop drinking alcohol
- experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
People who have an alcohol dependence, or an alcohol addiction, can experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last drink.
What To Expect During The Alcohol Detox Process
Alcohol dependence can cause you to experience physical, mental, and psychological withdrawal symptoms within eight hours after your last drink.
If you’re at home, stopping cold-turkey can be uncomfortable. Just how uncomfortable can depend on the severity of your alcohol dependence and the symptoms that arise.
Early signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- shakiness (tremors)
- mood swings
- difficulty sleeping
- trouble concentrating
Other moderate withdrawal symptoms might include:
- pale, clammy skin
- nausea and vomiting
- rapid heart rate
- elevated blood pressure
- loss of appetite
Mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal typically peak within the first 24 to 72 hours, but can last five to seven days.
A severe form of alcohol withdrawal, known as delirium tremens, can also develop within the first three days of beginning detox.
Risks And Dangers Of At Home Alcohol Detox
Alcohol is a dangerous drug to try and detox from alone. That’s because it’s one of just a few drugs – including benzodiazepines – that can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
One of the biggest reasons to avoid detox at home is that life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can occur with delirium tremens (DTs). DTs is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that requires professional medical attention.
Signs And Symptoms Of Delirium Tremens
Delirium tremens (DTs) most commonly develops within 48 to 96 hours after your last drink. However, this can also occur seven to 10 days after initiating detox.
Signs and symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- full body tremors
- heart palpitations/very fast heart rate
- delusional beliefs
- severe confusion
- alcohol-induced seizures
Several of these symptoms, including seizures, cannot be effectively managed in a home setting without a qualified medical professional to lend aid.
An alcohol treatment program that offers detox, on the other hand, can provide treatment that’s shown to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
What Are The Risk Factors For Severe Alcohol Withdrawal?
Before attempting at-home detox, consider the following risk factors to see if you or your loved one is at risk for experiencing a serious form of withdrawal.
You may be at risk for severe withdrawal if you:
- have been drinking heavily for years
- drink excessive amounts of hard liquor daily
- abuse other drugs in addition to alcohol
- have co-occurring mental health or medical conditions
- recently suffered a head injury
- are over the age of 50
- are malnourished
If you have any of these risk factors, it’s strongly encouraged that you find an inpatient detox facility or substance abuse treatment center that offers alcohol detox services.
Risk Of Relapse With At Home Alcohol Detox
Another risk of detoxing from alcohol at home is the potential for relapse.
If you or a loved one has been abusing alcohol, detox alone won’t be enough to help you overcome this problem over the long-term.
Recovering from alcohol abuse and addiction will often require some form of alcohol treatment, such as counseling, medication, support groups, and/or a full alcohol rehab program.
When To Seek Professional Help For Alcohol Withdrawal
Entering an alcohol detox program is strongly encouraged for anyone with a history of alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder, due to potential risks and dangers.
Common signs of alcohol abuse include:
- trying and failing to cut down on your drinking
- drinking heavily on a daily basis
- lying about how much you drink
- drinking in order to numb, feel good, or reduce stress
- continuing to drink despite negative consequences to health, work, relationships, finances, or family life
- having cravings for alcohol
- spending a lot of time drinking and sick from the after-effects (i.e. hangover)
- experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Millions of Americans struggle with alcohol abuse. If any of this describes you, a family member, or someone else you care about – you’re not alone.
Find An Alcohol Detox Program Near You
At-home detox, also known as self-detox, can be dangerous for people at risk for severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
To find a high-quality alcohol detox treatment facility near you, call our helpline for more information today.Article Sources
- U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alcohol withdrawal
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Delirium tremens
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: NCBI — Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: A systematic review