Thirty percent of all adults in the U.S. have struggled with alcohol abuse or addiction. If you’re wondering how to detox from alcohol, you’re certainly not alone.
Addictions often start out slowly. You might think your habit of having two glasses of wine with dinner every night is safe. But what happens when two glasses turns into three and then into a whole bottle? What happens when you can’t go without it?
Whether you’re early in the signs of alcohol abuse or have been struggling with it for a long time, it’s always a good time to detox from alcohol. In this guide, we’ll show you how to stop drinking and live a healthier, happier life. Keep reading so you can take back control.
How to Detox from Alcohol
In order to detox from alcohol, you’ll first need to decide the best approach for you.
There are a few different programs available that can support you through the process. These programs take care of you throughout your detox, so you don’t need to worry about handling it yourself.
Many people choose an outpatient detox treatment program. This is the lowest-impact, easiest detox method that allows you to more or less continue with your normal life. You can find both private doctors and clinics that offer outpatient programs.
With an outpatient program, you can keep living at home while going to the program or your doctor’s office every day for treatment. You’ll want to make sure to have a doctor evaluate you to see if you’re a good candidate for outpatient treatment. Alcohol withdrawal can come with serious symptoms, and you should only do outpatient treatment if you have minimal risk.
The next step up is inpatient treatment.
With this kind of treatment, you’ll check into a detox facility where you’ll be living until treatment is complete. You’ll have staff to check on you and care for you around the clock, helping you manage the symptoms of detox.
The staff might give you medications, including benzodiazepines, to help with the symptoms of withdrawal and keep you safe.
If an inpatient center doesn’t seem like a good fit, you can also check for detox programs at your local hospitals. These programs are similarly staffed with professionals who can offer the care and medication you need to safely get through it.
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in the hospital’s detox program after experiencing a seizure or other alcohol-related emergency. However, it’s best if you can check into a program before it gets to that point.
Can You Alcohol Detox at Home?
It is possible to detox from alcohol at home. However, just like with outpatient treatment, you’ll want to get evaluated by a professional first. Home detoxing only works for low-risk people who aren’t likely to have a medical emergency.
If you’re evaluated and determined to be a good candidate for home detox, let’s take a look at the steps you can follow to make it a success.
1. Choose Your Detox Type
There are two ways to detox from alcohol.
One involves gradually cutting back on alcohol until you’re not drinking any. The second method is quitting “cold turkey,” or all at once. Before you begin, you’ll need to decide which one will work for you.
Keep in mind that both require willpower, but in different ways. If you quit cold turkey, you’ll experience more extreme withdrawal symptoms. But if you taper off, you’ll have to fight the urge to drink more before you’ve quit completely.
2. Remove Alcohol from Your Home
You won’t successfully make it through a home detox if you can easily access alcohol. Remove it all from your home, and make it hard to get in other ways. For example, delete any apps on your phone that allow for alcohol delivery.
3. Find Some Time
While going through detox, you won’t be able to work or keep up with normal responsibilities. Clear at least a couple weeks of time so you can focus on recovery.
4. Bring a Friend
You should have a friend or family member stay with you to make sure you’re safe throughout the home detox process. If you run into medical issues, this is more dangerous than if you’re already checked in to an inpatient program or a hospital. Your friend will be responsible for making sure you get medical care if you need it.
5. Care for Your Body
You’ll be able to manage the effects of detox better if your body is healthy. Focus on eating well, drinking lots of water, and staying hydrated with electrolytes. Take vitamins and any necessary medications, too.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Whether you’re at home or in treatment, you’ll experience some type of alcohol withdrawal as you detox. Knowing what to expect makes it less scary, so let’s take a look.
Hours After Quitting
About six hours after you stop drinking, you’re likely to experience the first detox symptoms.
These can include sweating, a headache, and nausea. If you try to sleep, you’ll find that it’s hard to stay asleep. If you’re awake, you might feel anxious or even start to shake.
All of these symptoms are directly related to alcohol leaving your body. Your body has gotten used to working with alcohol, and now it needs to adjust.
One Day After Quitting
One day after you stop drinking, you might have a loss of appetite coupled with dehydration. If your alcohol dependence was extreme, you might even start to hallucinate at this point.
Several Days After Quitting
In the days that follow, you might experience seizures or delirium tremens if your case is extreme. You’ll need immediate medical treatment if you have these symptoms.
However, you might have milder effects, like mood swings and a drop in blood sugar instead. These can be more easily treated at home and will get better with time.
An Alcohol-Free Future Is in Store
If you make it through the first week without drinking, things will get much easier from there. No matter where you are in your recovery path, stick with it!
Knowing how to detox from alcohol doesn’t always mean you should do it at home. Consult with a physician before deciding whether to treat yourself or check into a detox program. But no matter which one you choose, don’t delay on taking control of your health and sobriety. Get started now!
Wondering if you can blend the support of a physician with a home detox? Check out our guide to the resurgence of house call doctors for answers!