Can You Detox from Alcohol at Home?Shelby Wall
When someone finally recognizes that they have a problem with alcohol, they have taken the first step to recovery. After this realization, they may decide to cut back on their alcohol consumption or suddenly stop drinking altogether. While this is a noble goal, attempting to quit all alone can be dangerous.
What many people do not understand is that with the sudden discontinuation of alcohol use, the body will enter a state of detoxification. This goes hand-in-hand with painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Especially in the case of alcoholism, these symptoms can be life-threatening. For this reason, it’s vital to understand the dangers of trying to detox from alcohol at home.
What is Withdrawal Like?
While there isn’t a specific test that can be used to identify it, alcohol withdrawal’s symptoms may be familiar to those with past experience – maybe you’ve tried to quit before or didn’t have access to alcohol for several hours. If someone experiences withdrawal symptoms from drinking, then they have consumed enough alcohol to cause organ damage to the liver, heart, gastrointestinal tract, and other parts of the body.
Harvard Medical School explains alcohol withdrawal with the following example:
“Alcohol has a slowing effect on the brain. In a heavy, long-term drinker, the brain is almost continually exposed to the depressant effect of alcohol. Over time, the brain adjusts its own chemistry to compensate for the effects of alcohol. It does this by producing naturally stimulating chemicals in larger quantities than normal. If alcohol is withdrawn suddenly, the brain is like an accelerated vehicle that has lost its breaks.”
Unsurprisingly, many of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal are those that happen when the brain is extremely overstimulated.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
These signs vary depending on one’s history of alcohol use: the duration of the addiction and the amount typically consumed. Symptoms will generally appear within six to twelve hours after the cessation of alcohol use, and may continue for several days.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Tremors (the shakes)
- Rapid pulse
- Increase in blood pressure
- Rapid breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hyper-alert state
- Hallucinations (seeing or feeling things that are not real)
- Seizures (common to have several; risk peaks at 24 hours)
- Delirium tremens
Delirium tremens (DTs) are the most severe symptom associated with alcohol withdrawal, and they only occur in about one of every twenty people. They are dangerous shifts in the body’s functioning that peak four to five days after your last drink and are a result of the body being unable to readjust its chemistry after the loss of alcohol. DTs create significant harmful changes in breathing, circulation, and temperature control. They cause your heart to race at a dangerous rate, blood pressure to spike, and may also result in severe dehydration.
Delirium tremens may also reduce the amount of blood flow to the brain. Symptoms include disorientation, confusion, stupor, loss of consciousness, irrational beliefs, nervous behavior, soaking sweats, sleep disturbances, and hallucinations. DTs create serious risk for heart attack, stroke, or death.
The Dangers of Detoxing at Home
Because of the lax public perception surrounding alcohol, any people have the mistaken belief that detoxing from alcohol isn’t as dangerous as detoxing from other drugs. Just because alcohol is legal doesn’t mean that it is safe to consume in such quantities. As outlined above, the withdrawal symptoms from continued heavy drinking aren’t just uncomfortable – they can be life-threatening.
Additionally, if you used other substances while drinking (whether they are other depressants, like heroin and opioids, or stimulants, such as cocaine and meth), withdrawal symptoms can be affected in a way that is unpredictable.
It’s difficult to know how your body will react to detox until the moment arrives. When you decide to get sober, you should do so in a safe environment where your symptoms can be managed by professionals. By choosing to participate in a medically supervised detox program, you’ll have access to 24/7 clinical support and medications that can manage your symptoms.
Concise Recovery offers the complete continuum of care to those in the Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley areas. From detox services to residential treatment, clients experience healing in a comfortable, well-appointed environment that is fully centered around their recovery. To learn more, call 888-978-5424.