Most people consider an alcohol detox at home because it’s less expensive and thought to be more comfortable and less invasive than a detox at a rehab center. A home detox is usually an appealing option for heavy users who don’t want to deal with a team of medical staff or the added stress that comes with being in a foreign environment, but is it safe to do alone? Many medical professionals feel that this type of detox is one of the most dangerous to undergo on your own for many reasons.
Detoxing from Alcohol at Home
Home treatment can become more tempting once users hit the internet and visit sites that promise that self-treatment can provide a faster detox without the commitment or high cost of inpatient treatment. These sites often recommend methods such as tapering use over a long period of time or using other drugs to ease the withdrawal symptoms. These home treatment programs make it seem that a detox at home is easy, just as long as you’re careful, but without the supervision of medical professionals you may be putting yourself at risk of serious complications.
Generally, most alcoholics are not prepared to handle the potential dangers associated with withdrawal from alcohol and they’re usually surprised to learn that abruptly stopping use can be more difficult and dangerous than withdrawal from illegal substances. Friends and family are usually not aware or able to provide the type of expertise and continual care that’s required in order to manage these withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, an at-home detox is considered very risky.
Additionally, some home programs do not provide essential treatment and recovery methods such as aftercare and therapy, both of which can help a person to maintain long-term sobriety. Which is why a supervised medical detox treatment program can significantly help a patient to control these risks. The use of a controlled treatment program is the most recommended and best way to detox from alcohol use in order to avoid the dangers linked to withdrawal. This results in a safer recovery process.
Going Cold Turkey Alone
While initially, it may seem like getting over this type of addiction by simply not drinking is the best way to overcome addiction, the changes in the brain that are caused by the chemicals in alcohol can result in a physical need for a drink, and the body tends to react to the loss of these chemicals by producing unwanted withdrawal symptoms such as muscle cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, anxiety, hallucinations, excessive sweating, seizures, irritability and depression. When a person becomes addicted to alcohol and takes the cold turkey approach, alcohol detox withdrawal symptoms will follow rather quickly.
According to research, most of these symptoms will often appear six to twelve hours after the last drink. Severe symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures and shakes can appear twenty-four to forty-eight hours after the last drink. While initially, the withdrawal symptoms may seem mild, they can progress in waves over the course of several days, weeks or months, and they can cause significant physical harm or even result in death.
Most physicians can agree that DTs, also known as delirium tremens, are the most dangerous withdrawal symptom. This symptom often appears two or three days after the last drink. This symptom can involve heavy perspiration, hallucinations, increased heart rate, agitation, fever and high blood pressure. Without supervised medical treatment these symptoms can lead to a heart attack, stroke or death.
The psychological symptoms of alcoholism can remain for a long time after the physical symptoms have passed. As an example, depression, cravings and anxiety can last for several months. Many of these psychological symptoms can be well managed through a supervised medical treatment program.
For the alcohol symptoms mentioned here, the severity of these symptoms often depends on the amount of alcohol regularly consumed and the duration of use. Heavier use for longer periods will result in a more severe detox process. Experienced care and continual observation can help to mitigate these dangers. A home detox often means a person will go through most of the detox alone because family and friends may not be able to provide constant care or even manage or predict some of the more dangerous symptoms. An inpatient program is designed to provide twenty-four hour supervised treatment which can help to reduce the patient’s pain, discomfort, anxiety and risk for complications.
For people who are struggling with this addiction, detoxing at home may seem like a better, more comfortable option. But, the reality is, stopping use of alcohol abruptly can be dangerous for the many reasons we have discussed here.
Inpatient treatment programs will not only focus on providing consistent and experienced care, but it will also implement methods commonly used to reduce both the discomfort and risk of the symptoms, minimize stress for the patient and their friends and family and significantly reduce the risk of a relapse.
Ongoing Treatment Options for Alcoholism
Like with most drugs, after the physical portion of the detox has passed, patients will often experience intense cravings and a deep depression that can last for several months. In order to improve your odds of remaining sober you must focus on ongoing treatment. Many alcoholics have found success through Alcoholics Anonymous where they can attend meetings several times a day or week and get the type of support and encouragement that’s so desperately needed during this trying time. Others may shy away from interacting with others who share the same addiction and will prefer to meet with a therapist once or twice weekly in order to ensure their sobriety and remain on track with making other positive lifestyle changes. Whichever path you choose, finding and working a support system is crucial during the first few years of sobriety and may be a lifelong need depending on how frequently and how much you drank daily.
Statistics have shown that an alcoholic is forty percent less likely to relapse during their first year if they seek ongoing treatment through some form of therapy. Medications to treat anxiety and depression can also help to reduce a person’s odds of relapsing and can also help to minimize cravings.