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  • Detoxing from alcohol can be very serious due to severe withdrawal symptoms. This is why it’s generally advised to go through withdrawal in a detox program under medical supervision. 

    But if that’s not an option, knowing how to safely detox at home is important. There are plenty of tips on how to detox at home, but there are also some risks as well.

    Try Tapering Off Alcohol

    To avoid the most severe withdrawal symptoms, you can try tapering or slowly reducing your alcohol consumption over time instead of stopping alcohol use “cold turkey.” This is not always possible for those with alcohol addiction.

    Tapering will likely take longer than a medically supervised detox but it can keep most of the major withdrawal symptoms at bay and help you overcome alcohol dependence. 

    A good rule of thumb for tapering is reducing your alcohol consumption by 10%. Drink at the reduced level for a few days and then try to cut down by another 10%.

    When tapering, expect to feel some anxiety, sweating, and irritability. If the symptoms become worse, you may need to taper more slowly. 

    Be Prepared For An Emergency

    At-home detox isn’t recommended because the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly. But if detoxing at home is your preferred option, make sure you’re prepared to call 911 or head to the emergency room if the symptoms become too severe. 

    If you experience the following severe symptoms, call 911 for medical attention:

    • seizures
    • confusion
    • double vision
    • unsteadiness
    • visual or auditory hallucinations 

    Don’t Do It Alone

    If you’re going to detox at home, don’t do it by yourself. Have a family member or friend there so if there’s an emergency, someone can call 911 or take you to the hospital. 

    This person also needs to be someone who can take off work or school. You both need to be free from other obligations.

    They can also remind you to drink fluids, keep you on a schedule, and help you prevent further substance use. 

    Prioritize Healthy Habits

    During the detox process, your body needs to get as many healthy things into it as possible to help counterbalance the loss of alcohol. 

    Drinking lots of water is one of the most important things you can do. Dehydration can become a major issue when withdrawing from alcohol. Getting enough fluids is vital.

    You can also drink beverages that contain electrolytes as alcohol intake and withdrawal can create an imbalance and cause muscle spasms, numbness, and seizures. Taking in more electrolytes can make detoxing more manageable. 

    You’ll also want to eat a balanced diet during detox. Balance carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It’ll not only help your brain but also your organ function. 

    Meditate To Relieve Stress

    Meditation is a good practice to pick up at any time, but especially when you’re going through detoxification. Breathing deeply can relieve stress and help normalize your heart rate and blood pressure, helping you feel less anxious.

    Meditation can also help you clear your mind and focus on the benefits of detox while you’re going through some of the more intense symptoms.

    Risks Of Detoxing At Home

    While detoxing at home is possible, it’s not recommended because of how many risks there are and how intense alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be.

    Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

    The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be very serious and potentially fatal. Symptoms may include: 

    Delirium Tremens

    Another symptom of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DTs), a life-threatening condition that can lead to stroke, heart attack, and death

    DTs usually show up about 2-5 days after the last drink and include symptoms like shaking, hallucinations, confusion, blood pressure changes, and fever.

    When treated by medical professionals, benzodiazepines may be used. But when detoxing at home, if you don’t immediately seek help, the condition can easily lead to death.

    Relapse

    There is also a significant risk of relapse when detoxing from home. There isn’t the same accountability as when you’re at an alcohol detox center or an inpatient treatment facility.

    If a craving becomes too intense or you experience withdrawal symptoms that are too unpleasant, it’s understandable why someone would relapse to alleviate symptoms.

    Additionally, tapering means you don’t stop drinking alcohol right away and that can be very difficult for someone struggling with alcohol abuse. This is why a medical detox program is recommended for someone with alcohol use disorder.

    If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, call our helpline today to find the addiction treatment program that’s best for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Sources

    Industrial Psychiatry Journal - Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: A systematic review
    National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - An Overview of Outpatient and Inpatient Detoxification
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Alcohol withdrawal
    Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment

    Medically Reviewed by
    Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on June 25, 2021
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