Detoxing from Alcohol & Drugs at Home

Should you or a loved one be considering a detox from drugs and alcohol at home, it is important to understand the risks and the steps you can take to manage your health and safety. We look at detoxing from drugs and alcohol, what your options are, withdrawal symptoms, and how to find the right kind of help for your unique needs.

What is a Home Detox?

A home detox involves quitting the use of substances such as drugs and alcohol for a specific period while in a home environment ( Individuals will refrain from using any form of the drug or alcohol in an attempt to stop substance use and work towards recovery. A drug or alcohol home detox can include monitoring from a local GP who can perform an individual assessment and advise on medical support to prevent severe withdrawal and health risks.

Home alcohol detox or drug detox at home can be an effective method for people who are unable to quit their substance use on their own. It also provides a less expensive alternative to residential drug and alcohol rehab programmes.

a man detoxing from substances at home

Before You Start a Home Detox

A detox from drugs and alcohol at home carries many risks. Although many believe that detox from substances such as alcohol is safe to perform at home, the severity of withdrawal symptoms can place one’s health at risk. Depending on the substance, withdrawal can occur within hours of stopping its use. Withdrawal symptoms can generally be tolerated in the beginning of detox but as it progress, symptoms become increasingly severe. In the case of alcohol addiction, a detox can lead to vomiting, nausea, tremors, and possible cardiac arrest (Alcohol and Drug Foundation).

If you’re considering a home detox from alcohol or drugs, we want to ensure you’re as prepared and comfortable as possible. But remember that the safest home detox is performed under the guidance and expertise of a medical GP. A GP can also advise on specific medications to ease the drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

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Speak to Your GP Regarding Prescription Medication

If you are considering a detox at home from prescription medication, it is best to consult with a GP prior to attempting any form of detox or the cessation of prescription meds. It can be dangerous to suddenly stop prescription medication.
A GP can advise on a tapering period and will help you with withdrawal, signs of discomfort, and professional medical advice.

Speak with your GP about the possibility of using a drug that can help you with this process. Many different types of prescription drugs can be used to help people detox from alcohol and drugs.

If your GP has recommended that you take prescription medication to help with withdrawal symptoms, it’s important that you follow their instructions exactly.

Remember that it can be dangerous to stop the prescription medication suddenly. A GP can advise on a tapering period and help you with withdrawal, signs of discomfort, and professional medical advice. This will help ensure that you get the most out of the medical detox treatment and don’t make any mistakes that could put your health at risk.

Detoxing from Alcohol at Home

There are many different methods of at-home alcohol detox, but the best method depends on your specific situation. It all comes down to your drinking habits if you’re looking for a way to safely detox at home. Here are some things that you should consider:

  • How long have you been drinking?
  • Do you drink every day?
  • Do you drink alone?
  • Are there other substances involved?
  • How much do you drink per day?
  • What kind of alcohol do you drink?
  • The second step is deciding how long you should detox before beginning treatment for alcohol addiction itself. This will vary from person to person depending on their current condition and history of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

a man saying no to alcohol

But you should know that treating alcohol withdrawals during at-home alcohol detoxing from alcohol at home carries significant health risks especially for those who have been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and for a long time. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can develop within hours of quitting. These symptoms are the body’s response to cutting off alcohol after a period of heavy drinking. They can be mild to severe, depending on how much and for how long you have been consuming alcohol.

Some common alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, vomiting, and sweating, can quickly become more severe and place your life at risk. If it is not your first time withdrawing from alcohol, your symptoms can be worse the second time around.

It is important to speak to your GP to determine the best care plan and treatment options based on an individual evaluation. A second opinion from your GP can include recommendations for the NHS. A GP or clinician can advise on the level of alcohol dependence using screening tools for alcohol.

The NHS has previously recommended some home remedies for alcohol addiction treatment but it primarily advises you to go to your GP as soon as possible if you need help with a medically assisted detox. You should also avoid taking any prescribed medication without consulting your GP first to alleviate withdrawal symptoms because it can worsen the condition. A GP or medical professionals can advise on the level of alcohol dependence using screening tools for alcohol.

Along with the assessment for alcohol use, clients who are seniors, who are drinking alcohol with other drugs, and are considered in a high risk category are advised on inpatient or residential programs with the NHS (NHS Grampian) for alcohol addiction treatment. The NHS can help with a medically assisted detox in severe and acute symptoms, but waiting times are to be expected.

When to Seek Medical Help

While the initial symptoms of alcohol detoxification may be tolerable, a mild to severe alcohol dependence can cause difficult withdrawal if not medical assistance. Detoxing from drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates carry unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms that can be deadly to the individual. It can cause severe headaches, delirium tremens, and even seizures. Plus, it can cause alcohol-related liver disease.

Delirium tremens is a neurological response that causes central nervous system agitation. It is marked by the following symptoms and requires immediate medical attention (Medscape):

  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Irritability
  • Seizures

Alternatives to a Home Detox

Quitting alcohol and drugs is challenging. Because of the potential severity of withdrawal and the life threatening risks when detoxing from alcohol and certain types of drugs, it is important to seek a medically-assisted detox as part of a residential or inpatient treatment program.

Residential programs at rehab facilities provide round the clock medical monitoring for inpatient detox. A doctor, specialist addictions nurse or other medical staff will monitor your blood pressure, body temperature, and vitals at the treatment facility to prevent any health risks during detoxification and withdrawal.

Residential treatment also makes it easier to transition from detox into a supported environment where professional intervention can begin.

Should you wish to proceed with an at home detox service, consider the assistance of a specialist doctor and specialist addictions nurse if possible. They could visit you to perform a medical examination and determine your well-being throughout the process until withdrawal symptoms subside and you quit alcohol or drugs.* This may cost extra if available.

The examination during the detoxification process includes the following:

  • Checking vitals such as respiration
  • Administering support drugs and sedatives to ease withdrawal and discomfort
  • Supplements and nutritional advice
  • The use of maintenance medication to decrease cravings.

Inpatient programmes often include group therapy sessions as well as individual counselling sessions with psychiatrists, psychologists or addiction counsellors. They specialise in addiction treatment issues such as alcohol misuse, drug abuse problems like cocaine addiction symptoms (cocaine use disorder), prescription pain medications abuse, etc.

Outpatient Detox Program

This form of outpatient detoxification at the detox centre allows you to receive treatment and professional assistance without the cost of staying in a full-time residential rehab. Outpatient detox must be medically supervised by a GP or qualified medical professional, whether you are at home or in a program to overcome alcohol and drug addiction.

In addition to residential and outpatient rehab, support options can help with the withdrawal process. These include:

Local support groups

Many local resources are available to help people recover from substance use disorders. These support groups provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences, get peer support, and develop coping skills to help prevent relapse.

In a group setting, you can share your struggles and learn from others going through similar situations. You’ll also have a built-in support system to help you stay sober when times get tough.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a worldwide organisation that helps people recover from alcoholism. The meetings are open to anyone who has the desire to stop drinking.

It is not necessary to have the desire to quit drinking before going to an AA meeting. In fact, many members attend AA meetings long after they have stopped drinking. They come for support and fellowship, which they find helpful in maintaining sobriety. The group offers mutual help with no dues or fees, only the willingness to share one’s experience, strength, and hope with others.

You’ll be able to talk about how difficult it is for everyone involved when someone struggles with addiction, including yourself and others close to them, like family members, colleagues and friends.

The meetings are led by someone who has also been through recovery from addiction themselves, so they know what’s going on inside your mind and heart at this time in your life.

a group therapy session

The Importance of Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a disease; the sooner you get treatment, the more likely you will recover. It can help you change your life for the better. If you are struggling with a long term addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, a home detox may simply not be enough to prevent long term relapse.

The goal of addiction treatment is not only to help you stop using drugs or alcohol but also to help you live a healthy life free from substance abuse. This includes finding healthy coping skills for dealing with stress and anxiety and learning how to live in a sober environment.

To help you overcome substance abuse and addiction, seeking the appropriate treatment for your circumstances can make all the difference in your recovery.

Individuals have the option of an outpatient programme in which you can visit a therapist and attend day therapy or group meetings as with a 12 Steps programme (WebMD). A residential rehab requires a live-in treatment plan and can assist in overcoming the difficulties associated with addiction.

Fortunately, with options available, you can make an informed and a valuable decision concerning your health and your options for recovery.

Jason Sheirs
Author / Jason Shiers / Dip. Psych MBACP
Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.