Detox is the first step in recovery from alcohol addiction and dependence. During detox, the alcohol leaves your system, and your body and brain adjust to functioning without the substance. While many people with alcohol use disorder choose to detox in an inpatient program, at-home detox services are also safe and increasingly common. If you plan on treating alcohol withdrawal at home, you’ll have the increased stability and privacy of a familiar living space, but you will need to know how to safely detox from alcohol at home.
How Long Does At-Home Alcohol Detox Take?
While everyone’s process will be slightly different, most people need about a week for detox. Depending on several factors, you may experience withdrawal symptoms for a shorter or longer time. If you can, try to clear your schedule of other responsibilities for several days.
Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within six hours of your last drink. These side effects last for about a day since your system needs around 24 hours to clear out all traces of alcohol. They might include:
- Shaky hands or tremors
- Nausea or vomiting
Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms like fever, hallucinations, delusions, or a rapid heart rate.
Who Should Treat Alcohol Withdrawal at Home?
People with severe alcohol use disorder or a long history of alcohol consumption are at higher risk for life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and should detox in a medical environment.
However, for many people with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder, treating alcohol withdrawal at home can be safe and effective.
At-home detox services may work for you if you meet most of these conditions:
- You don’t have any other serious medical conditions
- You have other responsibilities, like work, that you need to complete during treatment
- You don’t use any other addictive substances, like drugs
- You have a stable housing situation
- You have a strong support system of friends or family members
- You haven’t previously experienced severe withdrawal symptoms
Getting Medical Care While Detoxing at Home
If you choose an at-home detox program, having access to medical care is still crucial. Before you begin detox, meet with a doctor for a medical assessment and advice. Your doctor can give recommendations based on your specific situation, like withdrawal symptoms to watch out for or prescription medications to take if necessary.
During detox, you should check in regularly with a medical professional through in-person meetings, phone calls, or video telehealth sessions. Tell them what symptoms you’re experiencing and how severe they are. While discomfort and minor symptoms are typical for withdrawal, more serious symptoms may require a visit to the emergency room.
Staying Healthy While Treating Alcohol Withdrawal at Home
Your doctor may recommend tapering or slowly reducing your alcohol consumption instead of quitting cold turkey. Tapering will lengthen the detox process but may help you withdraw more safely and avoid significant side effects.
You may want to keep a diary or record any withdrawal symptoms and cravings you experience to track your progress. You can include thoughts, situations, and events that trigger your desire to drink—this will help you learn more about triggers to avoid in recovery.
Staying fed and hydrated are also critical to your health during alcohol detox. Drink a lot of fluids, especially if nausea makes you unable to eat. Include beverages with electrolytes if you can since alcohol withdrawal sometimes causes electrolyte imbalances. Try to stay nourished with whole foods, like lean proteins and vegetables.
How to Safely Detox from Alcohol at Home
While learning how to safely detox from alcohol at home will require help from a professional recovery specialist, there are some tips you can consider, including:
- Keep yourself busy with work, hobbies, projects, or other activities. Whether they’re rigorous or relaxing, activities can distract you from cravings and keep your mind off alcohol.
- Light exercise boosts the immune system and offers other health benefits. Go for a walk, jog around the neighborhood, or engage in whatever exercise you prefer.
- If you get anxious, try coping techniques like deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, or taking a shower—anything that helps you relax.
Get on Track with Southern Sky
The work of recovery is ongoing. We’ll help you get there. Our outpatient programs include therapy, counseling, and other evidence-based treatment interventions. We have a long track record of helping people recover from alcohol use disorder.
Once you’ve taken the first step of detox, the real work begins. Reach out to us at [Direct] for more information about how to help yourself or someone you love.