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Updated on March 27, 2023
7 min read

How to Detox From Alcohol at Home

Ellie Swain
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
8 Sources Cited
Ellie Swain
Written by 
8 Sources Cited

What is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the first step in treating alcoholism. It involves flushing or detoxifying alcohol from the system (removing the poisons, usually by allowing them to be cleaned out naturally).

However, a detox should be done under medical supervision because of withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms will typically last for two weeks after detox, but they can last longer depending on the severity of your alcohol use disorder.

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Is it Safe to Undergo Alcohol Detox at Home?

Although it’s possible to detox from alcohol at home, it can be dangerous. There are severe, potentially life-threatening risks involved with alcohol detoxification.

For people with long-term dependency on alcohol for months or years, stopping use might cause withdrawal symptoms. The pain of withdrawal can be so bad that it causes them to start drinking again.

However, if you have a mild alcohol use disorder, it may be possible to detox safely at home. Be sure to receive a medical diagnosis if you would like to detox from alcohol at home. Ask your doctor if you need supervised detox.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to life-threatening. These symptoms include: 4

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Extreme hallucinations
  • Disorientation

In some cases, you can develop alcohol-induced seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) if you’ve been drinking excessively for years.6 DTs is a life-threatening condition that can begin within two to five days after your last drink. It occurs in 5 to 10% of the population with alcohol abuse.

Withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks or even months for heavy drinkers. These symptoms can worsen due to other substances like heroin, meth, etc. 

How to Manage Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms at Home

Here are some ways to help you manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms at home:

1. Drink Water

When you’re dehydrated, you may experience the following: 

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion

Some people mistake symptoms of dehydration for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. When detoxing at home, drink plenty of water to replenish your body.

2. Drink Beverages Containing Electrolytes

Drinking water is essential, but individuals should also consume beverages with electrolytes. Electrolytes are important nutrients, including calcium, sodium, and potassium.

Alcohol intoxication and withdrawal can produce electrolyte imbalances. This can lead to side effects like 

  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Numbness

3. Maintain a Healthy Diet

A healthy and balanced diet includes consuming foods that contain the proper balance of: 

  • Vitamins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Proteins
  • Fats 

These nutrients help the brain, and other organs work properly. If someone is malnourished, the body won’t have the energy it requires to recover from alcoholism.

4. Take a Shower

Showering doesn’t help you sober up, nor does it help alcohol leave your body more quickly. However, it can relieve some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal by providing relaxation. 

A shower that is too hot or cold can lead to dangerous shifts in body temperature. However, a lukewarm shower may help relieve some minor withdrawal symptoms.

5. Controlled Breathing

Breathing deeply can help with the stress that comes with alcohol withdrawal. Deep breathing helps the body receive oxygen, which can normalize heart rate and blood pressure. 

On the other hand, shallow breathing limits oxygen intake and can lead to anxiety. Additionally, meditation can help you clear your mind and focus on the advantages of detoxing from alcohol. 

6. Call for Help

A local AA support line can provide 24-hour phone support from almost any location without fees or obligations. In addition, calling a trusted family member or friend can help make at-home detox easier.

7. Focus on Sleep

During this period, it’s common for people to have sleeping problems. Quality sleep can help support your body while detoxing from alcohol.7

Poor sleep can lead to:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure

This can significantly impact your overall health and affect the detox process.

8. Distract Yourself

Detoxing from alcohol can be an emotionally stressful experience. Keeping yourself busy can help distract you from the pain and discomfort of detox.

Here are a few activities you can try to distract yourself:

  • Listening to music
  • Doing light exercise
  • Reading 
  • Writing down your thoughts
  • Talking to someone supportive
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What Precautions are Necessary for a Safe Home Detox?

If you want to detox from alcohol at home, you should do it safely. Here are some precautions to take when detoxing at home.

Remove Alcohol From Your Home

This may sound like an obvious step, but it’s essential when self-detoxing. You may struggle to control your cravings when you first start having withdrawal symptoms. 

Avoid temptation entirely by removing any alcohol you have on hand. Pour it down the drain, rinse and recycle the bottles, or give your supply to someone who isn’t a heavy drinker. Tell them you are going to detox, so you aren’t tempted to ask for it back.

Clear Your Schedule

For some, it may seem almost impossible to clear your schedule for days or weeks, but it’s essential if you want your detox to be successful. 

Take some time off work and temporarily put aside your responsibilities so you can focus on getting better.

Seek Support

Just because you’re detoxing at home doesn’t mean you should do it alone. Find a family member or friend to help keep you safe and keep an eye on you during the process. If your withdrawal symptoms become too severe, they can seek help from medical professionals. 

AA is a readily available and free resource for those who have been through this process and are eager to help others.

Avoid Overeating

While you should try to eat during detoxification, don’t force the food down. You may feel nauseous during detoxification. Eating what you can is essential, but don’t make yourself sick.

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Pros and Cons of Home Detox

There are both pros and cons of home detox:

Pros

  • Comfort
  • No financial obligations
  • Anonymity and confidentiality

Cons

  • Higher risk of unwanted mental health effects
  • Higher risk of dangerous physical health effects
  • Lack of medications for severe symptoms
  • Increased possibility of relapse occurring
  • Possible harm to relationships during the discomfort of withdrawal

What to Expect During Home Detox 

Detoxing can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. The first 48 hours can be challenging as you experience uncomfortable and painful symptoms. 

These first symptoms usually persist for three to seven days following your last drink. The time it takes to detox from alcohol depends on several factors, such as:

  • How much you drink
  • How long you’ve been drinking
  • Whether you have gone through detox before

Most people stop experiencing detox symptoms four to five days after their last drink.

When Should You Detox at a Professional Facility Instead?

In most cases, you should detox at a professional facility. Medical professionals at recovery facilities and hospitals can help people with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Doctors and nurses can provide you with medications for anxiety and avoiding seizures.5 They also check your blood pressure and other essential signs to ensure you stay hydrated.

By entering an addiction treatment program, you can benefit from medical help that addresses alcohol withdrawal and any underlying co-occurring health problems.

Treatment Options After Detox

After detoxification, you can focus on other areas of recovery, like different activities, therapies, and other support options. Treatment options that you can benefit from after a detox include:

  • Inpatient treatment: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision. Almost all inpatient treatment facilities also provide supervised detox therapy. 
  • Outpatient treatment: A treatment program where people are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A short-term therapy technique explores the link between thought patterns and addiction
  • Support groups and aftercare programs: Provide a much-needed community to help maintain sobriety after treatment

Summary

Although it’s possible to detox at home, it’s not recommended. Medical professionals at a recovery facility can provide treatment and medication for a safe and efficient detox.

If you have a mild case of an alcohol use disorder, it may be possible to detox safely at home. However, you should still take precautions before you attempt a detox.

Without proper medical attention, an alcohol detox can be dangerous and even life-threatening. However, once you complete the detox stage, you can continue to other stages of recovery.

Updated on March 27, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on March 27, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Frequently Asked Questions.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), September 2020
  2. Das. "Detoxification of Drug and Substance Abuse." Medical Toxicology, edited by Pınar Erkekoglu, Tomohisa Ogawa, IntechOpen, 2020.
  3. Kattimani S. and Bharadwaj B. “Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: A systematic review.” Industrial psychiatry journal, 2013.
  4. Jesse et al. “Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: mechanisms, manifestations, and management.” Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 2017.
  5. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “4 Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances” Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US), 2006.
  6. Grover, et al. “Delirium Tremens: Assessment and Management.” Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, 2018.
  7. Cameron et al. “The Sleeping Brain: Harnessing the Power of the Glymphatic System through Lifestyle Choices.” Brain sciences, 2020.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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