Home Alcohol Detox
The process of going through detox is when your body renews itself by removing all toxins that are in the bloodstream and the body from the consumption of alcohol. This process usually takes place with supervision from a medically trained professional at a rehab facility. A home alcohol detox means going through this process from your own home, with minimal supervision.
However, detoxing from alcohol from the comfort of your own home is becoming increasingly popular. This is partially due to the fees associated with inpatient treatment, or the restrictions private rehab has on one’s personal and professional life.
During a home detox, you will be withdrawing from alcohol from your own home with limited supervision from our medical team. This involves a pre-assessment to determine whether or not this option is safe, followed by a medication plan to ease the side effects of withdrawal.
You will also have access to a helpline should any issues occur. But it is worth remembering that although we offer the home detox service, inpatient treatment is by far the most effective, safe, and risk-free.
Types of Home Detox
There are two types of home detox – cold turkey and tapering off. Below we have discussed both methods – though please remember that only the first method is recommended.
1. Tapering off
As a detox method from alcohol, tapering off is a way to reduce a person’s daily alcohol consumption. This approach is not as severe as cold turkey and does not have the side effects of cold turkey such as stomach pain and nausea.
Home detox is not always effective or safe, but it is less costly than being in a rehab facility. In the case of cold turkey and tapering off, the person who is slowing or eliminating their use of alcohol should have a person check in on them regularly to ensure that they are doing well.
2. Cold turkey
Cold turkey refers to the sudden cessation of alcohol intake after a period of prolonged abuse. This sudden halt of the substance it relied on can cause the body to go into shock.
This method is entirely not recommended. It can be particularly dangerous because of the side effects which can be unpredictable. The person detoxing may find the side effects are just too much and they may abandon all efforts just to feel better.
This type of detox is only effective when the person who is detoxing has full support available both in their home and in professionals who can be on hand for challenges along the way. The person will need to be away from all triggers that can cause them to fail and must start all over again with detox.
What is an Assisted Home Detox?
The process of home detox allows a person to undergo the process of withdrawal in their own home, a safe place where they will feel comfortable during the process. A trained professional may be on hand to assist the person at home instead of in a treatment facility.
This option is much more affordable for most people who need help. The average length of home detox is about seven days, but the amount of detox time will mostly depend on the circumstances of the person including:
- The health of the person undergoing detox – if a person is facing health challenges, their detox process may need to be much longer whereas if a person is in good health their detox can proceed more quickly
- Which substance is abused – a hardcore drug such as heroin can take a lot longer to detox from while marijuana may only take five days or so? Each type of drug has different effects on the body and those effects can affect the detox process
- The symptoms of withdrawal – if a person is having a difficult time with detox, they may require some medication to help them
The Three Stages of Home Detox
An assisted home detox includes the first stage: an initial assessment by a medical professional to determine if home detox is appropriate. The second stage is for a medication to be prescribed that will reduce withdrawal discomfort.
The third stage is that the health of the patient must be closely monitored by the detox specialist to ensure that the person in recovery stays safe.
Who Should not Detox from Drugs or Alcohol at Home?
There are some important considerations for those who would like to detox at home. Detox is a stressful and often complicated process which can sometimes be dangerous. Everyone should think about their own situation before they decide whether this process is something that they should undertake.
This is not for people who:
- Have a history of seizures
- Display aggression or violence when trying to quit using drugs
- Live with chronic health concern – hepatitis C, heart disease, diabetes, lung issues, liver disease
- Have had severe withdrawal symptoms in the past
- Suffer from depression
- Take benzodiazepines or opiates
Any of these situations require detox supervision and are most safely undertaken in a facility with staff to ensure that you are safe during the process
Knowing the Risks of Detoxing at Home
For those who do not have an addiction or a dependence, looking from the outside means that the answers seem simple. Why doesn’t the addict just stop and abstain from the use of their drug of choice?
Addiction is not a matter of willpower; it is a physical dependence on something, and the body and brain will work against a person to get what they need to function. Several risks are associated with detoxing from home and those include:
When detox is attempted, even if it is for only a brief period, what was a normal dose prior to detox becomes a deadly dose now that the body has been detoxed. Without some professional supervision, this can have a deadly result.
2. Medical issues
Some medical conditions may become serious during the process of detox. A person may not realize that they must watch out for any medical issues because they have not been diagnosed during the time they were in active addiction. Some chronic medical condition can cause unexpected complications during the process of detox.
3. Mental health
Detox can put a person through a wide range of emotions and experiences including anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, agitation, and irritability. Some mental health issues can come with addiction and will become worse when a person is going through detox.
During detox a person will go through many unpleasant experiences, both mentally and physically. At times the discomfort can become so intense that a person will relapse because the physical pain is too much.
For more information on getting inpatient help with detoxing from alcohol, visit our private alcohol detox page here.
Side Effects of Detoxing at Home
Detoxing at home is not always safe. There are many side effects that can occur including:
- Digestive changes such as diarrhoea
- An increase in the heart rate
- Low blood sugar
- Restlessness, irritability, and pacing
- Increase in heart rate
- Confusion, dizziness, and headaches
- Tremors, body pain, muscle cramping
- Changes to body temperature
- High blood pressure
How to Prepare for a Home Detox
Overcoming a drug addiction is one of the most difficult things that a person can face. Many people are afraid of detox because they believe that the process will be too much for them to handle. They feel that it will be too painful, and they do not have the strength to get through it.
For the most part people are advised to go through detox in a facility; however, in some situations, detox from home is another option. The key is to be well prepared in advance for the process and one of the most important steps is to speak with a doctor or an expert in addictions to see if this is the right approach for you and your set of circumstances.
Home alcohol detox does not work for everyone. The process of detoxing at home requires that a person choose their quit date and then stop using on that date right away or they have the option to taper off their consumption over time.
Detoxing at home means that a person will need to work hard to avoid their triggers by keeping busy with hobbies, eating healthier, beginning an exercise regime, and taking supplements to help improve health.
How to Safely Taper off Alcohol at Home
It is important to taper yourself off alcohol is so that you do not experience extreme withdrawal symptoms and reach the desired result of sobriety in a safe manner. The time required to safely taper yourself from alcohol will vary.
It is generally based on how long you have been drinking, how much you drink, and many other personal circumstances. The starting point is to determine your daily alcohol consumption in terms of the following standard measurements:
- 1.5 ounces of liquor that has a 40 percent alcohol content
- 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol content
- 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol content
The alcohol content in various products is different, but the above guidelines can help you to determine the number of standard drinks that you consume each day. If you drink liquor or wine, it is generally recommended to taper alcohol consumption using beer, according to experts.
Plan to taper your alcohol down for anywhere between three to seven days but that depends on how much you consume on a regular basis. As you taper, slowly reduce the amount of alcohol that you are drinking every day until you are no longer drinking.
If at any point you experience uncomfortable symptoms, drink enough to stop the symptoms. If you cannot reduce the amount that you drink, then you probably have alcoholism and need professional assistance to stop drinking.
Sample Tapering Schedule For Alcohol Home Detox
Prior to embarking on a tapering schedule, you should consult your physician to determine what the risks of detoxing at home are. Tapering alcohol can bring mental and health issues to the surface that co-occur with alcohol use.
If you consume more than twenty beverages daily, the following schedule is recommended for tapering each day:
- Day 1: one drink each hour for a total of 16 drinks
- Day 2: one drink every 90 minutes for a total of 10 drinks
- Day 3: eight drinks for the entire day
- Day 4: six drinks for the entire day
- Day 5: four drinks for the entire day
- Day 6: two drinks for the entire day
- Day 7: no drinks all day
If you consume less than 20 drinks daily, you can reduce your consumption by two drinks each day until you reach zero. If your detox symptoms are too severe you may need to taper more slowly. Some severe symptoms including increased pulse, alcohol shakes, paranoia, anxiety, irritability, and sweating.
How Long does it Take to Detox from Alcohol at Home?
The length of time it takes to complete a home alcohol detox will be reliant on many different variables. Detox at home takes more time because you want to avoid any serious problems by taking the necessary precautions.
Alcohol remains in your bloodstream for many hours after drinking it, so once it starts to clear from your body you will experience those withdrawal symptoms within about six hours of the last beverage you consumed.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms intensify for about twenty-four hours before they start to subside. Some of the early symptoms include vomiting, tremors, headache, sweating, and issues with focus and concentration.
Seizures are a more serious side effect but only about 25 percent of patients will experience them. Some symptoms will occur between two and four days after the last beverage has been consumed. These symptoms include blood pressure, breathing and heart rate changes.
The more serious symptoms include seizures and hallucinations but only in about five percent of patients. The detox timeline without tapering begins with early symptoms occurring as soon as six hours after the last drink has been consumed.
Symptoms become more intense up to 24 hours after consuming the last drink. Symptoms start to subside a few days after the last drink is consumed. Late symptoms start between two and four days after last consuming alcohol. Tremors may happen at this point. All late symptoms subside between four and six days after last consuming alcohol.
Recovery from the withdrawal of alcohol usually occurs in one week; however, those who have a serious dependency can experience the withdrawal symptoms for many weeks. Since alcohol causes changes to the brain, mood changes, sleep issues, and fatigue can take a longer period to resolve.
Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms at Home
Every person who is undergoing a home alcohol detox will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms which can range from mild to severe. Withdrawal symptoms vary between people depending on how long they have been drinking. Symptoms will include any of the following:
The withdrawal process needs to continue until there is no more alcohol in the patient’s body. If at any time the symptoms are painful it is important to get in touch with a doctor. Since it is best to undergo detox in a place where the person feels comfortable and that means detox at home is ideal.
Detox at home works for people who must be at home and work to meet responsibilities. It also suits those who might have a disability, be it physical or mental, and would find it difficult to be away from their home.
How to Deal with Alcohol Withdrawal at Home
Some people avoid medically supervised rehab because they prefer natural remedies for alcohol withdrawal. Slowly tapering off alcohol is the safest way to naturally overcome alcohol withdrawal, and many at-home remedies can help you cope with mild withdrawal symptoms.
However, medical treatment is necessary to treat major symptoms of withdrawal. It is important to drink plenty of water, your body needs it and if you experience dehydration, many of those symptoms are like those of withdrawal from alcohol.
A warm shower can help with relaxation and provide a distraction from the symptoms of withdrawal. Consume beverages that contain electrolytes which are vital nutrients and try to eat a healthy diet.
If you start to feel anxiety, controlled breathing can help to lower blood pressure and normalize your heart rate. Meditation and yoga can also help with the treatment of the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol.
Medications for Home Detox from Alcohol
Some people who undertake alcohol detox will require medication to do so. This is true when a person is unable to stop drinking on their own. Medications help in some extreme ways, but the main idea is that the enjoyment of alcohol is removed.
The drug Disulfiram prevents the body’s ability to separate a metabolite in alcohol. As that metabolite starts to collect in your body it will make you feel sick, thirsty, and exhausted. It can also cause vertigo, debilitating migraine headaches, heart palpitations, vomiting, and an inability to relax.
This helps many to stop drinking because they begin to associate these uncomfortable symptoms with drinking. Another medication, Naltrexone helps to lessen the impacts that are normally achieved when one consumes alcohol.
This helps even the heaviest of drinkers to continue to abstain from alcohol because they are not getting the same pleasure from drinking that they are used to experiencing.
What Happens After Home Detox?
Home detox has some major deficits, one of them being the absence of therapy and counselling sessions after the completion of detox. If a person wants to have long-lasting success with detox, it is important to have accountability, both with themselves and with a sponsor.
That’s where local Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous sessions can be extremely helpful. If you are worried about long term success with your completion of detox, you should follow up with supportive counselling and therapy where possible. The extra cost is worth the peace of mind, particularly after working so hard to kick a habit.
Start your detox today
Ready to step away from a life of alcohol? Choose recovery by calling a member of our team today on 0800 088 66 86 for advice & guidance.