Can Alcohol Detox Be Done at Home?

With millions of Americans living with alcohol use disorder (AUD), and almost 100,000 annual fatalities in the United States linked to alcohol use, it is hard to overstate the importance and crucial role of alcohol addiction recovery. But when it comes to alcohol detox, what kinds of processes does it involve? Does it require the help of professionals in a dedicated facility, or can you do alcohol detox on your own? Here’s what you should know about alcohol detox and if it can be done at home.

The Severity of AUD

AUD can take on various forms in the lives of those with it. For some, AUD is the result of beginning alcohol use at an early age. This increases drinkers’ tolerance to alcohol over time and usually results in them using alcohol more frequently and in larger amounts. For others, alcohol use can result from family history or personal trauma. While none solely causes AUD, they can increase someone’s risk of developing it.

But what exactly is AUD? The general definition for AUD is a severe condition that impairs someone from being able to control or quit using alcohol, even after experiencing poor health or social/occupational consequences. While some people may already be aware of their addiction to alcohol through physical changes, such as weight, skin appearance, or changes in bodily health, including blood pressure and liver function, others may not realize they have AUD until they decide to cut back on alcohol consumption or try to quit using it.

When this happens, people begin to experience various kinds of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can take the form of panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, and other related symptoms. However, others may experience much severer and life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as heart palpitations and delirium tremens (DTs). This is a life-threatening condition that can make people disoriented, confused, hallucinate, and become angry. The most severe symptom of DTs is tachycardia, when the heart beats rapidly, which can cause cardiac arrest.

Why Detoxing From Home Is Dangerous

People can experience some or all these symptoms accompanying alcohol withdrawal while attempting to detox from alcohol use. That is perhaps the most significant reason why the prospect of detoxing from alcohol at home is not only risky but dangerous. To put it one way, the more severe someone’s withdrawal symptoms are, the higher the chance of having a life-threatening impact on the body’s crucial functions. The alternative to the dangerous option of detoxing from home is to detox from alcohol professionally. This is a safer option because medical professionals are on hand to offer support 24/7, but it is also safer because of what alcohol detox involves. It might surprise people to learn that alcohol detox is more dangerous compared to detoxing from cocaine or opioids.

While alcohol is a legal substance, it affects the body’s central nervous system uniquely compared to other substances. This accounts for some of the more life-threatening symptoms involved in the withdrawal process. To help with this, it is common for medical professionals to treat patients with various medications to protect them from severe withdrawal episodes. The most common and effective medication is benzodiazepines. These medications effectively treat many withdrawal symptoms, from anxiety and insomnia to DTs and seizures. While other medications are used when needed, benzos seem to be the most comprehensive in scope.

This might sound surprising for some to hear since benzos are a notorious drug of abuse, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assign its black box label to the drug to warn of its high abuse potential. This is true, and it is also the case that benzos may not be right for everyone undergoing alcohol detox. Further, benzos can be especially dangerous when mixed with alcohol.

The Benefit of a Facility Dedicated to Alcohol Detox

This is why a professional detox is highly beneficial and safer by comparison. Being in a medically controlled environment greatly decreases the possibility of developing an addiction to benzos while using them during alcohol withdrawal treatment.

A treatment facility can modify dosage, medicine choice, and other factors during detox. This means the process can be adjusted as needed to guarantee patients the highest level of safety and the greatest possibility for success. If you or someone you know has AUD, undergoing professional detox in a facility committed to alcohol recovery is the safest option.


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