Detoxing is usually the initial step many people suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) take when they want to overcome this disease. However, depending on the duration you have misused alcohol and the amount you use regularly, there can be dangers of alcohol detox at home.
What is Alcohol Detox?
Some people attempt to address their AUD by going “cold turkey,” meaning they stop all alcohol use. However, quitting “cold turkey” is never recommended because it can complicate alcohol withdrawal symptoms and result in serious and adverse side effects.
However, to take the first step on the road to recovery, alcohol detox is a necessary step to overcome your physical and emotional dependence on this substance. The objective of alcohol detox is to remove all alcohol from the body, so it can start to repair itself and heal.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how long the body goes without alcohol. For example, a hangover is a form of alcohol withdrawal many people experience after drinking heavily.
Some of the more common mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Cravings for alcohol
- Uncontrolled shaking
Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal
The longer the body goes without alcohol, there can be complications related to several alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar levels can cause dizziness, fainting, exhaustion, and a general sense of weakness.
- Seizures – Some people experience seizures during alcohol detox because of being dehydrated and malnutrition. Sleep deprivation is also a contributing factor.
- Delirium Tremens (DTs) – DTs also occur in some people, often those experiencing seizures, and can trigger hallucinations, uncontrolled sweating, disorientation, brain hyperactivity, confusion, and hot and cold flashes.
The Dangers of Alcohol Detox at Home
As you can imagine, the dangers of alcohol detox at home on your own can be rather unpleasant. Furthermore, the longer you go without alcohol, the risks of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms increase.
Without medical supervision during detox, the withdrawal symptoms are much more challenging to manage all by yourself. Unfortunately, many people who attempt alcohol detox at home end up stopping long before the symptoms worsen. In other words, they would rather continue to drink than have to experience withdrawal symptoms. Yet, this places the individual at greater risk of long-term health problems and extensive organ damage.
Can Alcohol Detox be Fatal?
In certain situations, the dangers of alcohol detox at home can be fatal because alcohol alters the body’s chemical functioning and basic survival mechanisms. This is why many alcoholics drink excessively, as their survival depends on drinking.
When alcohol use is discontinued, essentially, it causes the body and brain to short-circuit because it has grown accustomed to functioning with alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can become so severe it can feel as though you are going to die.
While alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not fatal, what is fatal are the adverse withdrawal complications and side effects. For example, seizures and DTs increase the risks of strokes, heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, and more serious grand mal seizures. Sadly, some people also die because they choke on their vomit.
Aside from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the long-term effects of alcoholism can equally be fatal, such as:
- Kidney damage
- Kidney failure
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Liver failure
- Nerve damage
- Korsakoff’s psychosis (wet brain)
- Wernicke’s encephalopathy
- Increased risk of cancer
- Heart damage
Benefits of Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox
The best way to reduce the dangers of alcohol detox at home is not to detox at home. Instead, it is much safer to undergo medically supervised alcohol detox at an addiction and recovery center.
One of the primary benefits you gain is access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using various drugs. These drugs help reduce many of the unpleasant and undesirable withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, incorporating MAT into your medically supervised detox treatment can lower the risks of seizures and DTs. The MAT medications used during alcohol detox allow the brain and body to start repairing the damages caused by your alcohol misuse.
As your withdrawal symptoms dissipate, usually within the first week or two, MAT dosages are adjusted. Eventually, as your brain and body heal and you no longer are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you are slowly weaned off your MAT medication until you no longer require it.
Another benefit of medically supervised detox is you are more likely to complete your detox than you would if you attempted it at home. As a result, you can lay a solid foundation for taking the next steps and completing alcohol addiction recovery.
Detox and Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Orange County, CA
You can avoid the dangers of alcohol detox at home with our medically supervised detox in Orange County, CA, at Pacific Sands Recovery Center. We provide a supportive, safe, and caring environment to undergo your detox that can include using MAT. After completing your alcohol detox, we can work with you to create a personalized alcohol addiction treatment plan to help you maintain long-term sobriety and reduce the risk of relapse.
Visit our admissions page for further information about our detox and addiction treatment programs or to start your detox today!