Most people who use alcohol and are looking to quit or change their alcohol use may wonder if they need medical detox or it is possible to safely detox from home. Most however, do not need medical detox. Whether or not a person should seek medical treatment for alcohol detox depends upon how much alcohol is used, how often alcohol is used and how long a person has been drinking. Binge drinkers who use excessively in short bursts such as "weekend warriors" typically will not require medical detox services because they do not use alcohol on a daily consistent basis.
Those who drink two or three drinks every evening and don't experience any symptoms in the morning also may not experience withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue drinking. But for those people who drink more consistently and heavily, which would be considered more than 3 drinks every evening or several drinks throughout the day, stopping alcohol use abruptly can be dangerous.
While most people can successfully detox from alcohol at home, this should be done with extreme caution. People should never attempt to detox from alcohol alone, and those caring for the individual should be prepared to call for emergency help if symptoms become serious. If other serious health conditions are present such as heart disease, respiratory problems, history of stroke or seizures then detox at home is not recommended.
As every person's body reacts differently, withdrawal symptoms vary as does the length of time it takes to detox. Average length of time it takes for someone to detox from heavy alcohol use is 3 to 7 days with the most severe symptoms happening within 48-72 hours. It is always a good idea to see your doctor even if you are planning to detox at home. Some may prescribe anti-seizure medications or anti-anxiety medications to help alleviate the most severe symptoms. Probably the most important recommendation is to stay well hydrated. This can minimize some of the symptoms.
The following are alcohol withdrawal symptoms most common during the first few days of detox:
The following more severe symptoms can be a sign that the individual's life is in danger. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention if the person is experiencing any of these symptoms:
For those who are extremely heavy drinkers, and have been for many years a medical detox is usually the best option. Detox treatments are available on an outpatient basis and also at inpatient facilities, hospitals and even alcohol rehab centers. At these medical detox facilities your vital signs will be monitored and you will be given medication to minimize the most severe withdrawal symptoms so you can stay comfortable throughout the detox process.
Detoxing from alcohol at home may not be for everyone, but many people have done it successfully. Once the withdrawal symptoms have subsided you will then be left with the choice to drink again or not. Contrary to what you may have been told, cravings are nothing more than habitual thoughts that are the result of your previous habitual behaviors. While habits can be hard to break, you certainly have the power to change them. The idea that you are suffering from a disease that renders you powerless over alcohol is false; relapse is nothing more than a personal choice to drink again.
If you have made a commitment to change your drinking habits and behaviors and you have chosen to quit drinking, remember that detox symptoms are temporary. You will feel much better after those initial first few days of discomfort. If your symptoms become unbearable or you are concerned about your safety, there are quality medical detox options. St Jude Retreats recommends Gallus Detox as one of the best detox centers in the country for those who don't want to detox at home.
For more information about Gallus Detox or if you are unsure if you may need a medical detox you can call St. Jude Retreats for a free consultation with one of our Family Consultants.
Addiction Specialists Review the Saint Jude Program and its Efficacy. Please take a few moments to listen to what they have to say, and find out how Saint Jude's is Different and more effective than addiction treatment.