Excessive drinking kills 88,000 individuals in the United States every year. While many people who drink excessively are not dependent on alcohol, others find themselves caught in a pattern of chronic alcohol abuse. To break the cycle, they may try an alcohol detox at home to set themselves on the right path.

But alcohol detox often triggers unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and other adverse side effects. Some withdrawal symptoms can even put someone’s well-being at risk. With that in mind, is it possible to safely detox from alcohol at home? Or should individuals who want to stop drinking alcohol always seek professional care?

Why Is an Alcohol Detox Necessary?

Why Is an Alcohol Detox Necessary?

Before discussing the risks of an alcohol detox at home, it may be helpful to understand why detox is such an important part of the addiction treatment process in the first place. After all, some people view alcohol addiction as a purely mental battle. They may believe that all it takes to overcome alcohol use disorder (AUD) is willpower alone.

However, reality depicts addiction in a different light. In truth, there is a strong physical component of addiction, which stems from a concept called alcohol dependence. After someone regularly consumes excessive amounts of alcohol for a long period of time, their body may develop a physical dependence on it.

In other words, whenever they try to stop drinking, their body can no longer function properly without alcohol. This triggers adverse withdrawal symptoms as the body struggles to rebalance itself on a chemical level. Due to the difficult and unpleasant nature of these side effects, finding support during alcohol detox is a vital part of addiction recovery.

Withdrawal Symptoms During Alcohol Detox

To fully illustrate the dangers of attempting an alcohol detox at home, it’s important to understand all the possible withdrawal symptoms one may encounter during detox. Some symptoms are mild, which is often what makes people feel like they would be safe to detox at home. Others, however, have the potential to be quite threatening if left untreated.

Early alcohol withdrawal symptoms (or those that typically develop within the first 12 hours after the last drink) include:

  • Tremors/shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia

As someone makes it further into the alcohol detox process, other symptoms may arise as well. These tend to be more severe in nature and can often develop as a result of inadequate treatment, such as what someone would receive while attempting an alcohol detox at home.

These more intense symptoms can include:

  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, and tactile)
  • Paranoia
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Seizures

Is It Safe to Do an Alcohol Detox at Home?

Detox is a necessary but uncomfortable part of recovering from alcohol use disorder. Understandably, many people hope to stay in their homes for the detox process. They often find that the familiarity and comfort of their personal space decreases their stress levels. As such, they may believe that an alcohol detox at home would be their best option.

However, behavioral health experts and other medical professionals advise against attempts to stop drinking alcohol at home. Some of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms discussed above are already risky to try to handle alone. In addition, individuals have a chance of developing something called delirium tremens (DT) during detox, which refers to the most severe manifestation of withdrawal symptoms.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens (DT) is a rare but serious condition that can occur during the alcohol detox process. Characterized primarily by symptoms like confusion and disorientation, DTs distort someone’s perception of reality and make it difficult to think clearly.

When combined with other withdrawal symptoms, untreated delirium tremens can lead to complications during detox. These can be very dangerous, especially if someone is attempting an alcohol detox at home while they’re alone.

For example, someone with DTs may experience:

  • Irregular heart rate
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Circulatory shock
  • Coma

If ignored, some of the symptoms listed above can even be fatal, making it crucial to seek professional medical help during the detox process. Fortunately, delirium tremens is a rare occurrence, though it is more likely to occur in individuals with longer histories of alcohol abuse.

Even though the likelihood of developing delirium tremens during detox is small, there is still a nonzero chance. For this reason, trying an alcohol detox at home burdens someone with unnecessary risk. They could avoid these potential dangers by attending a medical detox program instead.

Medical Alcohol Detox

Medical Alcohol Detox

The best alternative to an alcohol detox at home is a medical detox program. These programs are commonly found through addiction rehab centers and other mental health treatment facilities. They are the safest way to detox from alcohol because they place patients under 24/7 medical supervision.

Detoxing from alcohol under the supervision of medical professionals offers numerous benefits. The first and most important benefit of a medical detox involves patient safety. Trained physicians and addiction experts know how to identify the early warning signs of complications like seizures or delirium tremens. With swift, informed action, they can minimize and reverse the effects of dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, a medical detox program can soothe the less threatening withdrawal effects as well. Minor symptoms can be treated and, while not always eliminated entirely, lessened to a much more tolerable degree. This includes working to reduce alcohol cravings and decrease someone’s likelihood of relapse. Overall, a medical detox keeps the patient as comfortable and safe as possible.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Naples, Florida

While replacing an alcohol detox at home with a medical detox at a treatment center is a strong step toward recovery, addiction treatment may not end there. In fact, for many individuals, detox only comprises the first stage of healing.

At The Willough at Naples, patients may go on to participate in our dual diagnosis program following detox. Designed for people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems, dual diagnosis treatment helps patients identify the core issues driving their alcohol addiction.

During treatment, patients may participate in evidence-based treatment options such as:

We care about your long-term recovery and plan with the future in mind. The above treatment modalities teach vital coping skills that help prepare our patients for life after treatment. By finding healthier outlets for stress than substance abuse and healing from any underlying mental health issues, you can recover from alcohol addiction.

Star Your Addiction Recovery Journey Today

If you were thinking about trying an alcohol detox at home, consider reaching out to The Willough at Naples instead. Our medical detox program eliminates the risks associated with detoxing at home and helps our patients begin their recovery journeys on a strong note.

To learn more about our addiction treatment and alcohol detox services, call our admissions team at 800-722-0100. If you need a bit more time to gather your thoughts, you may also submit a confidential contact form through our website. We look forward to hearing from you and discussing how we can help you overcome alcohol addiction.

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