Alcohol Detox at Home: Is it Dangerous?

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 24, 2023

Table of Contents

It is not advisable to undergo alcohol detox at home due to potential medical complications that may arise. Familiarize yourself with the risks associated with detoxing at home from alcohol to make informed decisions about kickstarting your recovery.

This guide outlines how you should approach alcohol detox by engaging with a supervised medical detox and how to connect with ongoing treatment for alcohol use disorder.

heart icon that is 2 hands holding

Need help getting addiction treatment?

Is Alcohol Detox from Home Dangerous?

Detoxing from alcohol at home can pose serious risks unless under the guidance of a doctor who deems it safe. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures and a life-threatening condition known as DTs (delirium tremens). Only a medical professional can assess the potential dangers and complications associated with alcohol withdrawal.

While some individuals may consider attempting an alcohol detox at home due to the perceived convenience and comfort of their own environment, it is crucial to understand the alcohol withdrawal timeline and the associated risks.

Contrary to common misconceptions, alcohol detox is not less dangerous than detoxing from other substances. Alcohol detoxification at home without proper medical support can expose individuals to severe and potentially life-threatening risks. The process of sudden alcohol cessation triggers a range of withdrawal symptoms that are distressing, challenging to manage, and may persist for weeks. Undertaking detox without pharmacological assistance can intensify the difficulty of the journey. Abrupt alcohol cessation can induce hallucinations, seizures, and even heart failure, which can be fatal, even if such instances are rare. The body’s response to detox will vary among individuals, making it an unpredictable process.

Beyond this, if other substances, such as heroin, cocaine, meth, or prescription medications are used concurrently with alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can become more severe.

The intensity of the physical and emotional pain during detox may drive some people to resume drinking, perpetuating a cycle of attempting to quit but being unable to withstand the withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient alcohol treatment programs offer a solution by removing individuals from their environment and aiding in breaking unhealthy habits.

It is essential to acknowledge that many individuals struggling with alcohol addiction also contend with co-occurring medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. Often, people turn to alcohol as a means of self-medication, and upon quitting, these underlying mental health disorders may worsen. In some cases, individuals may not even be aware of their co-occurring disorders until they stop drinking.

Entering an alcohol addiction treatment program grants access to comprehensive medical care that addresses alcohol withdrawal symptoms and concurrently manages any underlying co-occurring disorders present.

A man stands looking out a window to represent alcohol  detox at home.

Alcohol Detoxing at Home

While in many cases, home detox from alcohol can be safely done, there are always potential issues with alcohol detoxing at home. If severe symptoms of detoxification manifest, opting for at-home detoxification may hinder prompt medical attention. Besides, detoxing at home may result in an isolated experience, leaving you without assistance when you need it most.

While an at-home alcohol detox may not pose any immediate threat in some cases, the absence of professional medical support can make the process challenging and uncomfortable. This, combined with the accessibility of alcohol, heightens the likelihood of discontinuing detoxification and reverting to alcohol use. Those who undergo a supervised medical detox, on the other hand, have a stronger chance of successfully completing the process than individuals who opt for an at-home alcohol detox.

If you decide that a medical alcohol detox at home is the right choice for you, it is vital to prioritize safety. Here are a few key factors to consider when undergoing home detox:

  • Create a supportive environment: Set up your home environment in a way that promotes a sense of calmness and positivity. Remove any triggers or reminders of alcohol. Arrange your living space to be comfortable and soothing, incorporating elements like soft lighting, calming scents, and relaxing music.
  • Seek emotional support: Reach out to friends or family members who can provide emotional support during the detox process. Having someone to talk to, vent your feelings, and lean on during difficult moments can make a significant difference. Consider joining support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or online communities where you can connect with others with lived experience of these issues.
  • Establish a routine: Structure and routine can provide stability and a sense of purpose during the detox process. Create a daily schedule that includes time for self-care, relaxation, engaging activities, and healthy meals. A consistent routine can help you stay focused and maintain a sense of normalcy as you navigate the challenges of detox.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical and emotional well-being. Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness practices. Take regular breaks to rest, engage in hobbies or activities you enjoy, and prioritize getting enough sleep. Self-care helps alleviate stress, reduce cravings, and promote overall wellness.
  • Stay physically active: Engaging in regular physical activity can have significant benefits during alcohol detox. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and boost your overall well-being. Choose activities that you enjoy – walking, jogging, cycling, or practicing yoga, for instance. Physical activity can also serve as a healthy distraction and help you redirect your focus away from cravings.
  • Explore relaxation techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine to manage stress and cravings effectively. This may include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or taking soothing baths. Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you and incorporate them into your daily self-care practice.
  • Stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals: Proper hydration and nutrition are essential during detox. Drink plenty of water and consume a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid processed foods, excessive caffeine, and sugary drinks as they can impact your mood and energy levels. Proper hydration and nutrition support your body’s healing process and provide the necessary nutrients for recovery.

Remember, while these strategies can help make the home alcohol detox process more manageable, you should consult with a healthcare professional to ensure your safety and receive personalized guidance throughout your detox journey.

How To Safely Detox From Alcohol

Because of the serious risks associated with the withdrawal symptoms associated with completing alcohol withdrawal at home, you should not attempt to detox from alcohol at home. A much safer option is to enter an inpatient or outpatient treatment program overseen by a team of medical professionals who can offer you the care you need.

At a treatment center, medical professionals can prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help alleviate symptoms and ensure your body safely weans itself off of alcohol. MAT can prevent several issues including Wernicke’s encephalopathy, seizures, withdrawal syndrome, and more. 

Renaissance Recovery rehab in Huntington Beach, California logo.

Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Renaissance Recovery 

At Renaissance Recovery Center in Huntington Beach, CA we specialize in providing outpatient treatment for alcohol addictions and mental health conditions. If you require detox, our team of addiction experts are able to refer you to a premier medical detox facility, where you will begin the jourey of recovery. Once you complete detox and inpatient care, Renaissance’s outpatient programs will give you the tools and support you need to stay sober long-term. 

Our comprehensive programs include integrated dual diagnosis treatment, addressing the complexities of addiction alongside co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression. Choose the level of support and structure that suits your needs from our diverse outpatient treatment programs:

Whichever program you choose at Renaissance, you can expect individualized addiction treatment that incorporates a holistic and evidence-based approach. Our treatment interventions include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy, utilizing CBT or DBT techniques
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

Upon completing your treatment program, you have the option to transition to a less intensive form of care or explore the possibility of sober living in Huntington Beach. Our goal is to equip you with a robust aftercare plan, including effective coping techniques and relapse prevention strategies. At Renaissance, we remain dedicated to supporting your ongoing recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism.

Take the essential first step towards a brighter future by reaching out to our admissions team at 866.330.9449.

SHARE THIS POST

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE

At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

Text a Recovery Expert

Text our team to get the help you need ASAP.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.