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Is It Safe To Detox At Home?

Alcoholism is a progressive and deadly disease that damages nearly every part of the body. The best way to prevent further damage and reverse the damage that is already done is to stop drinking. However, simply stopping drinking isn’t that easy for some people.

People who drink heavily for months or years may develop an alcohol use disorder that makes it difficult to stop drinking. They may experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings for several weeks after quitting alcohol. Even though it isn’t pleasant, withdrawal is the first step towards getting sober.

If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol and wanting to sober up, you may be wondering whether or not detoxing at home is safe. For more people, at-home detox is not suggested. The safest way to detox from alcohol is to go to a professional alcohol detox center.

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol affects the brain by activating the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is one of the most vital chemicals in the brain that is involved in nearly every brain process. When there is an excess of GABA available, such as when a person is drunk, neurons fire less often and less rapidly.

When neurons fire less frequently, other chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are absorbed too fast. And, over time, the brain becomes dependent on alcohol to produce GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. As a result, the brain of someone who is addicted to alcohol will not produce enough of these chemicals on their own.[1]

This phenomenon leads to withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person tries to stop drinking as the brain tries to reach a state of balance and adjust to not having alcohol. Even though detox is temporary, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely painful and distressing.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

How long alcohol withdrawal lasts and how severe the symptoms become depends on a host of factors. These include how long a person has been drinking, how much they are used to drinking, and how healthy they are overall.

early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

Early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:[2]

  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Rapid heartbeat

While these symptoms are generally not life-threatening and can successfully be managed during at-home detox, other symptoms can be more serious.

People who quit drinking cold turkey may experience additional symptoms that can be severe or even life-threatening. These include:

severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium tremens (hallucinations and delusions)

Facing these symptoms while detoxing at home can be dangerous. When these symptoms occur, people need intensive medical care to keep them stable and safe.

Dangers of Detoxing From Alcohol At Home

Alcohol is legal for anyone over 21 and is generally accepted in American society. Moreover, many people believe that it is safer to detox from alcohol than it is to detox from other drugs.

The truth is that alcohol is one of the most dangerous and deadly substances to detox from. Even though only 3-5% of heavy drinkers who are hospitalized with alcohol withdrawal experience delirium tremens, 1-4% of these will die as a result of detox complications.[3]

Delirium tremens can be treated in a medical setting, but there are severe complications associated that may occur, including:

  • Over-sedation
  • Coma
  • Respiratory depression
  • Aspiration
  • Pneumonia
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Brain damage

Stopping drinking suddenly can also cause seizures or sudden heart failure, both of which can result in death without immediate medical intervention.

Even patients who do not develop any of these critical symptoms may struggle to safely detox from alcohol at home. Between the intense mood swings and cravings for alcohol, it can be difficult to successfully stop drinking without professional help.

Benefits of Medical Detox

The consequences of detoxing at home can be fatal, especially without access to life-saving medications. Those who attend a medically-assisted detox program are more likely to successfully stop drinking and overcome their alcohol dependence.

There are many benefits of detoxing at a West Palm Beach alcohol detox. These include:

  • Detoxing in a safe and supervised environment
  • Having doctors, nurses, and addiction specialists on-site
  • Detoxing with the help of medications
  • Optional yoga, meditation, and nutritional counseling to help ease symptoms
  • Treatment planning for ongoing care
  • Having access to peer support and licensed counselors

During inpatient detox, patients will be supervised by medical professionals around-the-clock. In the event of a medical emergency or severe symptoms, nurses and doctors will be prepared to intervene. They are also available for regular check-ins and medication administration to help keep patients comfortable.

There’s no reason to detox alone and risk getting sick when detox centers exist to make the detox process safe and comfortable.

Tips to Detox Safely From Alcohol At Home

Some people will choose an outpatient detox program so they can obtain medical assistance while staying in the comfort of their own homes. However, this is not recommended for people who are at high risk for seizures, those with co-occurring disorders, or those without a supportive home environment.

During at-home detox, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent complications and help make the withdrawal process stress-free. These include:

  • Remove all drugs and alcohol from the home
  • Make sure there is nothing on the schedule for that day so there is nothing to worry about
  • Have friends, family, or a support system close by
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet with abundant fruits and vegetables
  • Continue taking any medications that are prescribed
  • Have a plan just in case medical attention is needed

Alcohol Detox in West Palm Beach

If you or someone you love is addicted to alcohol, we suggest erring on the side of caution and detoxing at a medical facility. There is no sure-fire way to ensure your safety while detoxing at home.

At Mandala Healing Center, our medical detox program combines medical intervention with holistic healing methods to make detox as safe, comfortable, and stress-free as possible. Our detox program is committed to providing 24/7 medically supervised care, evidence-based rehabilitation, and spiritual healing through yoga and meditation.

Get started on your healing journey and give us a call today.