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Alcohol Detox at Home vs. Inpatient

In the past, when alcohol addiction was considered to be a moral failing, alcoholics were often left to “dry out” in jails or mental health facilities with little or no supervised medical support. Now that we know that alcoholism is a chronic disease, treatment for alcohol withdrawal is as intensive as the protocol for treating any other medical condition.

Inpatient Treatment for Alcohol Withdrawal

Medically supervised, residential or inpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal includes:

  • Medical supervision to check your vital signs and mental orientation
  • Medication to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, such as seizures, convulsions, agitation or nausea
  • Fluid replacement to prevent dehydration
  • Nutritional supplementation to replenish lost vitamins and minerals

Going through detox at home may seem like an easier, less expensive alternative, but withdrawing from alcohol without medical supervision can be dangerous, even fatal. Instead of taking this serious chance with your health, contact an addiction specialist to talk about your options for inpatient detoxification.

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Once your body becomes chemically dependent on alcohol, you can experience severe physical reactions if you stop drinking. If you’ve been drinking for a long time, you may have withdrawal symptoms that endanger your health, such as:

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Sudden spike in body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe dehydration

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that alcohol withdrawal may be more severe if you’ve been drinking for a long time, have a high blood alcohol level at the time of withdrawal, have co-existing health conditions, or are addicted to other drugs in addition to alcohol. Severe alcohol withdrawal is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to prevent life-threatening complications.

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Risks of Home Detoxification

After you stop drinking, it may take several hours before you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Your reactions may seem tolerable at first. However, sweating, tremors, vomiting, headaches and other symptoms of mild withdrawal can quickly turn into more severe symptoms if you don’t get medical attention quickly. When you detox at home, you run the risk of having a sudden reaction that may cause permanent damage to your body, or even death.

Family Doctor notes that if you’ve withdrawn from alcohol more than once, you’re more likely to experience seizures or other severe symptoms if you go through withdrawal again. Your body’s reactions may be even worse if you didn’t get the right medical care during your first withdrawals. When you withdraw from alcohol at home, you don’t have access to these valuable components of medically managed detox:

  • Medical and psychological evaluation to determine the best plan of care
  • Medication to prevent seizures, hallucinations and agitation
  • Immediate access to medical services if you have a sudden change in condition
  • Education and counseling to prepare you for the next stage of recovery

Detoxing on your own may be effective if you’ve only been drinking for a short period of time and you’ve never had alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But without psychosocial support, counseling and behavioral modification therapy, you may find that it’s extremely difficult to stay sober after detoxification.

Detox is just the entry point for a complete rehabilitation program. Inpatient detox leads naturally into the next phases of rehab, where you’ll learn how to live an alcohol-free, drug-free life. Medically managed detoxification at an inpatient treatment facility prepares you to focus on your recovery, so that you can regain a sense of hope and restore your sense of self.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions on our alcohol detox offerings here at Alta Mira.