At-home alcohol detox risks are nothing to take lightly. For those considering detox from alcohol, healthcare providers and treatment professionals agree that medically monitored detox in a professional facility is the best and safest choice.

Once the decision to get sober is made, the next step of getting into detox as soon as possible is essential. For some people, detoxing at home seems like the most comfortable solution, but unfortunately, most people do not understand how dangerous detox from alcohol can be. 

The Risks of At-Home Alcohol Detox

Anyone with an alcohol use disorder understands what it is like to stop drinking alcohol suddenly. The body and mind with alcohol dependence, have become accustomed to maintaining certain levels of alcohol. Any level of withdrawal from the consumption of alcohol starts a cycle of symptoms as the body reacts to the loss of the substance.

The at-home alcohol detox risks are serious because detox from alcohol is potentially life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, difficult to manage, and challenging to monitor without professional medical supervision. The symptoms are intense to endure without medication, and if too severe, can escalate into a medical emergency.

Without medical monitoring, detox can turn deadly. Another worst-case scenario with at-home alcohol detox risks is relapse because the withdrawal is too painful. For those with a long-term alcohol use disorder, an extremely dangerous withdrawal symptom can occur.

Delirium tremens can occur without notice, and it could prove fatal if no medically trained professionals are on site with the proper tools for medical assistance. At-home alcohol detox risks can be overwhelming to deal with alone or without medical supervision. Finding a detox facility to perform a medically monitored detox with the possibility of medication-assisted treatment is the best choice. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome will start 6 to 12 hours after the last drink. Withdrawal symptoms from the lack of alcohol can be different for every individual. Depending upon the patient’s physical condition, the length of addiction, and the amount of alcohol ingested daily, the symptoms can vary in intensity. Those thinking of going cold turkey with an at-home alcohol detox risks their chance at sobriety and well-being. 

The following withdrawal symptoms are present with alcohol withdrawal syndrome:

  • Headache and fatigue
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Shakiness and hand tremors
  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Hallucinations and irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression and anxiety and mood swings
  • Sleepiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid heartbeat

Typically, the alcohol withdrawal symptoms can continue for 2 to 8 days. Heavy drinkers are twice as likely to experience hallucinations and 90% more likely to experience delirium tremens. Medication-assisted treatment allows for the disbursement of medications to lessen the intensity of these harsh symptoms. Detox programs at a professional facility remain the safest option for alcohol detox

PAWS and Delirium Tremens

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) presents a period of physical discomfort when detoxing from alcohol. Muscle aches, nausea, headaches, and increased heart rate are typical symptoms, but acute withdrawal can lead to more dangerous consequences. 

The brain must go through a recalibration process and trigger psychological and emotional withdrawal symptoms. PAWS can occur a few weeks into recovery after completing detox and can be a driving factor in relapse potential, and those who try at-home alcohol detox risks going through this phase without warning. 

Delirium tremens (DTs) are a severe and possibly fatal symptom of alcohol withdrawal. About 12 to 24 hours into detoxification, seizures, and hallucinations can indicate the possibility of delirium tremens could be imminent. Someone experiencing these severe symptoms sees and hears things that are not real.

This type of severe alcohol withdrawal is from sudden and extreme changes in the mental and nervous systems. Other physical conditions can also bring on delirium tremens, such as an injury, illness, or infection. 

Delirium tremens can result in the following symptoms 2 to 4 days into detox, but in some cases, can present up to a week after the last drink:

  • Sudden severe confusion
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Exhaustion and bouts of sleep lasting a day or more
  • Hallucinations and seizures
  • Increased sensitivity to outside stimuli
  • Intense mood shifts 
  • Body and hand tremors
  • Stupor

At-home alcohol detox risks include delirium tremens, which is a medical emergency. Medically supervised detox programs run through a professional facility offer a better chance of surviving this potentially fatal symptom. Quick medical attention is needed when severe symptoms occur. Medication-assisted treatment can alleviate intense symptoms that could evolve into delirium tremens. 

At-Home Alcohol Detox Timeline

Alcohol withdrawal begins once the levels of alcohol in the blood drop below what is typically normal for a person. Mild symptoms generally begin six hours after the last drink. The simple reduction of alcohol intake can trigger withdrawal symptoms. Individual factors such as age, weight, physical condition, genetics, and alcohol use history can affect detoxification. 

The general timeline for alcohol detox typically moves through 4 stages. 

  • Stage 1: 6 to 12 hours after the last drink can bring on headaches, anxiety, stomach pains, insomnia, poor appetite, nausea and vomiting can transpire.
  • Stage 2: 12 to 48 hours after the last drink can cause withdrawal symptoms to escalate, and hallucinations and seizures are possible.
  • Stage 3: 48 to 72 hours after the last drink can escalate to fever. Sweating, confusion, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure and delirium tremens. 
  • Stage 4: After 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms gradually dissipate over the next 4 to 7 days, but as long as 10 days is possible.  

Professional Detox is the Best Answer

Professional detox in a quality accredited treatment center is the best answer instead of at-home alcohol detox risks. Safety and security in knowing medical professionals are monitoring the detoxification process and offering medication-assisted treatment when necessary remains the best choice.

The support given throughout the process by an experienced treatment staff is invaluable. The insights medical professionals provide to the process can keep medical emergencies at bay. 

Learn More About the At-Home Alcohol Detox Risks in Tennessee

If you are looking into detox from an alcohol use disorder and think at-home detox might be a good option, speak to the professionals first. Detox West Tennessee offers detox programs for alcohol use disorders with medical monitoring and the possibility of medication-assisted treatment.

Speak with our compassionate admissions personnel for more information on the costs of detoxing from alcohol. Consider forming a treatment plan to keep sobriety alive beyond detox.