Generally speaking, an alcohol detox is when you flush out all traces of alcohol from your body, and it’s the first necessary step to take if you’re kicking any addiction. You may associate the word ‘detox’ as something positive and beneficial to your health, and whilst in the long run, this is true, in the short term, it can feel anything but enjoyable. Detoxing from alcohol can be physically and mentally challenging, to the point where people find it hard to stick with it. However, completing an alcohol detox is vital for any successful recovery. Unfortunately, one of the biggest faux pas of detoxing is to do it yourself at home. Whilst a DIY detox sounds cheap and appealing, it could set your recovery journey back even further. Read on to find out why.
Why do we think we can detox at home?
One of the main draws of home detox is how convenient the experience sounds; it’s at home, and you have your home comforts around you – your comfortable bed, control of your routine, and perhaps you can still see your friends or work to distract yourself. In theory, this sounds great, but the reality could be very different.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be physically and mentally challenging. This is because the brain, when consistently under the influence of drugs, is rewired to think it needs alcohol to operate. When you stop drinking, your central nervous system goes into overload as it rebalances itself. In most cases, the symptoms are highly uncomfortable (it can feel like a terrible hangover that lasts for days at a time), but in rare cases, symptoms can be severe and dangerous; seizures and cardiac problems can occur. Look at it another way; your body has been feeding off excessive alcohol intake for some time. The moment you deprive it of its fix, it will oppose the detox and fight against it by screaming out for more alcohol; this will present itself in numerous unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
What is the reality of home detox?
No two detox experiences are the same, with different people having different biological or mental reactions. Still, the amount of alcohol you consume and the length of time you have taken it often determines the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.
Some symptoms that you could experience are the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood swings, confusion and anxiety
- Muscle aches or heightened pain sensitivity
- Trouble sleeping or Insomnia
- Fever-like symptoms like a change in body temperature
- Seizures or fits
- Risk of heart attack. This is the most dangerous aspect as you may resume alcohol abuse after taking a few days off drinking and your body could go into shock, resulting in a medical emergency. This is why it’s imperative you speak to your doctor before detoxing.
Since the above symptoms can be pretty severe, it probably would be safer to look into a medical detox where you will be under 24/7 supervision.
These specialists will monitor your temperature, heart rate, breathing and blood pressure to ensure you are safe and healthy. When you detox from alcohol at home, help and support will not be available, so the risks are much higher. If you still think a detox at home is what you want, then, again, we suggest speaking to your GP so they can give you help.
Why are we so reluctant to detox at a clinic?
There are many reasons why you may prefer to detox by yourself than under the guidance of medical supervision. Let’s look at some of the common misconceptions in comparison to reality:
Myth: Going for treatment in a detox clinic can feel isolating and disruptive to my life; home detox allows me to talk to friends and family in a familiar environment….
…While detoxing at rehab is more expensive than home detox because you are given expert care and attention throughout your detox, you will not necessarily save money. We urge you to consider the cost of your current addiction; how much money do you spend annually on engaging in substance abuse? If you compare this number to the cost of a detox, you may realise that a one-time medical detox (which will help you kick the addiction for good) is worth the price.
Myth: A big pro to home detox is how confidential it can be. Nobody will know I have been to an alcohol detox centre…..
…It’s common for people thinking about detox treatment to worry about the effect on their job or career, but don’t worry; most private clinics allow you to sign a waiver to ensure confidentiality. And even then, your permission would be required before the clinic consults your doctor on any medical conditions you have.
Detox can be a daunting part of alcohol recovery, and unfortunately, people mostly know of detox from movies or tv with characters locking themselves away for a week or two. In reality, detox is much more than locking yourself in a cupboard and hoping for the best. It’s a long process of managing your thought processes and reducing substance usage until you’re ready to stop entirely. In a detox, you should use techniques to manage stress, like exercising, eating well or talking with loved ones about your problems.
Should I consider a private detox clinic?
We strongly encourage you to consider getting private treatment at an inpatient detox centre. Ultimately, going to a detox clinic with health experts around so that their dependence on alcohol and their withdrawal symptoms are lower and less severe.
NHS rehab treatment for alcohol detox is also possible, but your chances of success are lower than with private rehab care, this is due to long waiting lists. If you delay your detox it will only prolong your recovery.
At UKAT, we provide professional supervision for detoxing from alcohol in a safe and homely environment. Once you join us, specialists will assess your condition and determine what type of withdrawal symptoms you will face. Once done, our specialists will guide you through detox phase by phase and offer any medication you need to ease the process.
As well as supervision, you will receive a network when you leave and a comprehensive recovery programme to suit your needs. This will include a range of individual and group therapy for addiction sessions and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). All the work will go to finding out the underlying issues that caused you to depend on alcohol.
If you are still adamant about home detox
If, for whatever reason, you’re serious about going through a home detox, please consider asking for specialist advice and consult your doctor since they could offer vital information or even prescribe medicine to help manage any withdrawal symptoms. Again, this is imperative; your safety is paramount, and your doctor will be able to help you do it safely as possible.
Furthermore, you must have company around you; you will need practical help such as cleaning and taking care of errands or pets etc. You’ll also need some emotional support as mood swings, tears, irritability, and anxiety often spring up. This is why your loved ones need to educate themselves in the detox process so they can be prepared and understand how best to handle it; so that it’s as stress-free as possible for all involved.
Remember: alcohol detox isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
We recommend undergoing a professional detox as it will set you on the best footing for life-long recovery. However, we understand that it’s not always simple to do. No matter what avenue you decide to take, always do it safely, seek out medical advice beforehand and make sure you have a trusted company with you. Finally, take a deep breath and know you can get through your detox, and once you do, you’re one step closer to liberating yourself from alcohol addiction.