Can I Detox from Drugs and Alcohol at Home

Last Edited: February 13, 2020

Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC

Clinically Reviewed
Andrew Lancaster, LPC, MAC

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and certified by an addiction professional.

What are the Dangers of Going Through Detox Alone?

The time in which one is making the decision to get clean and sober can be confusing. In addition to relief, many report that it brings feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, and even depression, which can make a home detoxification from drugs and alcohol sound like the optimal choice.

However, the withdrawal symptoms of many substances can be deadly, especially for those who have been building a tolerance for a prolonged period of time. Knowing the options is the best place to start when determining which level of care is best for you or your loved one.

When being evaluated by a healthcare professional for appropriate at detox and treatment, several considerations will be scrutinized before making any recommendation to the patient for recovery. The evaluation helps the healthcare professional to decide if a detox from drugs or Alcohol at home will produce the best results for you.

Some of these considerations include level of intoxication, substance or substances of addiction, potential for withdrawal complications, the patient’s overall health condition, the presence of disease or other potential health obstacles (including mental health conditions), motivation for recovery, potential for relapse or other complications with continued use, and the patient’s home environment.

Despite not even making up 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. consumes 80 percent of the world’s prescription painkiller supply.

Additional Options to Alcohol and Drug Detoxification at Home

There are four options for safe detoxification from alcohol and drugs: Ambulatory Detoxification Without Extended Onsite Monitoring, Ambulatory Detoxification With Extended Onsite Monitoring, Clinically Managed Residential Detoxification, and Medically Monitored Inpatient Detoxification.

All are purposefully coordinated to accomplish a smooth transition into substance abuse treatment after a safe and gentle detoxification has been completed.

Ambulatory Detoxification Without Extended Onsite Monitoring

This is the first of two categories that allow for a drug and Alcohol detox at home. They are only recommended after a proper evaluation of the individual is done and is still carefully managed by medical professionals.

This is an outpatient detox that cannot only be done at home but also in a medical setting or substance abuse treatment facility. Specially trained nurses and other medical staff manage the detox treatment through a scheduled series of meetings in which he or she is able to note progress, administer medications, and help the addicted individual transition into treatment.

Ambulatory Detoxification With Extended Onsite Monitoring

Extended Onsite Monitoring of an individual in an outpatient detox program means that a trained medical professional carefully observes the patient’s progress for several hours each day that he or she is in withdrawal.

This level is also planned and coordinated purposefully with the needs of the patient in mind, as well as the ultimate goal of long-term addiction recovery.

Clinically Managed Residential Detoxification

Similar to outpatient detox, residential detoxification environments can range from a private setting that may or may not utilize medications in the withdrawal process to a hospital in which medical care is provided and managed 24/7.

This could be a cost-effective option for some people as many detox facilities that offer this level of care are equipped to move a patient to a hospital setting if withdrawal symptoms require it. This level of care provides some of the comforts of detox from drugs or alcohol at home while having the ability to move the patient to a more medically oriented level of care if necessary.

Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Detoxification

This level of care is the safest treatment strategy for acute withdrawal symptoms, especially for those who are detoxing from substances such as Alcohol, Opioids, and Benzodiazepines.

Addiction to these substances produces some dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal and require constant medical supervision.

Doctors and nurses are available 24 hours per day and actively manage the patient’s comfort as well as his or her medical concerns.

The draw of privacy of one’s home environment for detox can seem simple at first, but several factors need to be assessed by a medical professional to lessen the risk of death, permanent damage to important organs such as the brain, or withdrawal symptoms that may continue to have an effect on the patient throughout recovery.

Withdrawal from Alcohol, Opioids, and Benzodiazepines should not be managed at home. These produce the most dangerous and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and require careful detoxification. Home detox from alcohol and drugs robs the patient of safe, often life-saving medications as well as pharmaceutical strategies that can make the process much more comfortable.

An added benefit to this level of care is the substance-free environment. A supportive and empathetic staff in a facility replaces a higher chance for relapse at home. For many people who attempt to detox at home, the temptation to relapse is too great, especially when going through the pain and discomfort of withdrawals and the opportunity is readily available.

Why to Avoid Detox from Alcohol at Home

Alcohol plays a substantial role in society; it seems to find its way into every facet of life. From drinking when celebrating to drinking when depressed or angry, the social acceptance of drinking Alcohol misrepresents the dangers of becoming addicted to it and withdrawing from it.

There is a timeline of Alcohol withdrawal symptoms that include a wide range of discomfort levels. These often include anxiety, weakness, headache, body tremors, hallucinations and seizures. These symptoms can be managed in an inpatient detox, but Delirium Tremens (DTs) should often be the most important concern for someone considering substance detox at home.

Up to 15 percent of those in Alcohol withdrawal develop DTs. A severe change in one’s nervous system activity during Alcohol withdrawal triggers this condition in which an individual is disoriented and agitated while experiencing significant tremors, a raised heartbeat, high blood pressure, excessive sweating, fever, hallucinations and severe seizures.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are difficult to predict. The sooner they are treated and managed, the less likely it is for the patient to endure prolonged effects of the detox.

There are three types of medication used in an Alcohol detox. Anticonvulsants are used to diminish the risk of seizure and are often used for those with tepid withdrawal symptoms if benzodiazepines are not an option.

Benzodiazepines are effective in the management of seizures and anxiety, although these medications have the potential for addiction as well. Medical professionals must address many considerations when opting for this medication as treatment during Alcohol detox.

For those struggling with restlessness, hallucinations, or DTs during withdrawal, antipsychotics may be considered to ease these symptoms. While it may feel most comfortable to do a home detox from addictive substances, a medical facility is the safest environment for one withdrawing from Alcohol.

During 2015 -16, of all the addicts going into treatment, 70% were male. 73% of these males were being treated for drug abuse while 61% recieved treatment for alcohol only.

Home Detox from Opioids

Heroin is the most popular Opioid street drug and over 52 million people admitted to using prescription pain pills containing Opioids non-medically at least once in their lifetime. Regardless of their source, Opioids are some of the most addictive substances; there is an epidemic of Opioid addiction and overdoses consistently year after year.

When detoxing from Opioids, addicts become dope sick. The symptoms with dope sickness are mild to severe and potentially deadly. Symptoms peak after about five days of abstinence from the substance, then taper off over one to four weeks. Body aches; stomach upset, excessive sweating and yawning, irritability, restlessness, cramps, insomnia, and a runny nose are some of the notably uncomfortable symptoms.

For those addicted to Opioids, the most critical concern for doing a substance detox at home is the likelihood of relapse. The severity of withdrawal symptoms has compelled some to attempt suicide and many to give up on detox and break their abstinence.

Opioids work on the limbic system (controls basic emotions), spinal cord, and brainstem to relieve pain and create feelings of euphoria and calmness. In the brainstem, these reactions to the chemical have side effects in which breathing is slowed to a deeper, slower rate of oxygen intake.

A relapse after a period of abrupt abstinence from Opioids can lower one’s tolerance, creating a crisis within the body when the previously accustomed dosage is taken. Specifically, the rate of breathing becomes substantially slowed or stopped.

Naloxone, a prescription medication is used to recover a patient from the effects of an overdose by reversing the depression of the respiratory system, allowing him or her to intake an adequate amount of oxygen.

In detox, Methadone, Buprenorphine and Suboxone are common medications used to stifle cravings and relieve the severity of other symptoms such as stomach upset, sweating, and sleeplessness. Despite being popular “remedies” for withdrawal symptoms during a drug and alcohol detoxification at home, certain over-the-counter medicines can cause complications along with the risk of an overdose.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner]

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)79,000 deaths per year are a direct result of over-consumption of alcohol. It is the the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24.

Detoxing From Benzos at Home

Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed by doctors to treat insomnia and anxiety and can also be used to control seizures. Xanax and Valium are classic representations of abused Benzodiazepines. Adolescents and young adults misuse the drug most commonly and about 95% of this age group abuses other drugs as well. For example, a typical combination of drug misuse in adolescents is Benzodiazepines and Marijuana.

Benzodiazepines adjust chemicals in the brain that cause some mental health disorders. When the drug is abused, the brain learns to operate while manufacturing less of the chemical because it is receiving much of what it needs from the Benzodiazepine. A sudden reduction or halt in the rate of consumption of the Benzodiazepine produces withdrawal symptoms that could result in death if not properly managed by a doctor.

Withdrawal symptoms from Benzodiazepines include extreme anxiety, insomnia, agitation, raised heartbeat, sweating, tremors, hallucinations, seizures and nausea with or without vomiting. Medications are used to control the severity of these symptoms in a compassionate and supportive environment when completed in a treatment facility.

The two medications used most often used in a substance abuse treatment center to control withdrawal symptoms are Buspirone and Flumazenil. Buspirone is effective in treating anxiety disorders in those with a history of addiction. The brain does not form a physical dependency to this drug. Flumazenil often treats withdrawal symptoms in long-lasting Benzodiazepine medication addictions.

While these are compelling considerations for home detoxification from the substance, they are not the only ones. For many, relapse is a substantial concern. Often, the symptoms of withdrawal are unbearable for an addicted individual who is susceptible to relapse. It is common for one to use the same dosage as the last use, without realizing that his or her tolerance has diminished. This increases the likelihood of an overdose.

After a successful detox at home, a substance abuse treatment program should immediately follow. While addiction causes severe effects on the brain and body, it is a mental health condition that needs to be addressed with evidence-based treatment, such as cognitive therapy and education.

We’re here to help you get through detox safely and comfortably. Contact us today for a free consultation that will give you the direction you need to get your life back on track. Call us today. (866) 578-7471