For many people who quit drinking, entering an inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment program to detox isn’t an option they consider. Whether it’s due to cost, fear, or a lack of information, far too many people choose to self-detox at home rather than enter a treatment facility.
Although there are ways to safely detox from alcohol at home, it can also be incredibly dangerous—especially if you’ve been drinking for a long time or consumed high quantities of alcohol throughout your addiction.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
For most people, the first signs of alcohol withdrawal appear six to 12 hours after you stop drinking.
Some of the most common alcohol detox symptoms include:
- Mild anxiety.
- Mood swings.
- Clammy or pale skin.
- Dilated pupils.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Loss of appetite.
For heavy drinkers, alcohol withdrawal is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms range from anxiety and shakiness all the way to seizures and delirium tremens.
The Dangers Of Detoxing From Alcohol At Home
Many people are under the impression that detoxing from alcohol isn’t as dangerous as detoxing from other drugs. However, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth. There are serious, potentially life-threatening risks involved with detoxing from alcohol—especially when you’re doing it on your own.
When you stop drinking alcohol suddenly, the body reacts with a series of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are painful, difficult to manage, and may last for weeks. Without any medication to help you through it, the process is even harder.
Sudden alcohol cessation can cause hallucinations, seizures, and even heart failure that may result in death. Although this is rare, you never really know how your body will react to detox until you’re going through it.
Additionally, if you used other substances while drinking—such as heroin, prescription medications, cocaine, or meth—withdrawal symptoms may be worsened or unpredictable.
For some people, the pain is so bad that they decide to start drinking again. It ends up being a cycle of trying to quit but not being able to because of the withdrawal symptoms. When you enter an inpatient alcohol treatment program, you’re removed from your environment and bad habits.
Many individuals who struggle with alcohol addiction are also battling other medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. People frequently use alcohol to self-medicate themselves, but when they stop drinking, these disorders can worsen. In fact, some people don’t even realize they’re dealing with mental health disorders until they stop drinking.
By entering an addiction treatment program, you’ll benefit from medical care that addresses alcohol withdrawal and any underlying co-occurring disorders you have.
Benefits Of Medically-Supervised Detox Treatment
Because of the serious risks associated with self-detoxing from alcohol, you shouldn’t attempt to detox from alcohol at home. A much safer option is to enter an inpatient or outpatient treatment program overseen by a team of medical professionals who can offer you the care you need.
Some of the benefits of medical detox include:
- Medical stabilization.
- Peer support.
- A safe and structured environment.
- Relapse prevention.
- Therapeutic intervention.
- Family support.
- Long-term treatment (aftercare).
Starting On The Road To Recovery
You can overcome your alcohol addiction and achieve sobriety. The key point to remember is that’s never safe to self-detox from alcohol at home. People with the highest risk of complications from alcohol withdrawal are those who drink heavily in excess and those who have attempted to self-detox in the past.
Although you may be deterred by entering a treatment program, it’s the safest way to detox from alcohol. Friends and family can provide emotional support, but the reality is they’re not medically trained to handle the dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
By entering alcohol addiction treatment, you’ll benefit from the care of a team of medically trained professionals who can help you through the withdrawal process and guide you toward the road to recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.