Should I Detox from Alcohol at Home or Have Medical Supervision?

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When you have been using alcohol to cope and have decided to detox and start healing, the first question will often be about where you should detox. Some people lean toward detoxing at home because it’s free, they can stay in the comfort of their own homes, they are surrounded by loved ones, and it is a private experience. However, this may not be the safest option. Understanding how detoxing from alcohol works and the factors that influence how and where you should detox can potentially save your life.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 

Alcohol withdrawal can cause a person to experience various physical, mental, and emotional symptoms, which can bring lots of discomfort to an individual during the detox process. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness
  • Body tremors
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 

It should be noted that these symptoms vary depending on your age, nutrition, overall health status, underlying physical or psychological disorders, and the severity of your addiction. The symptoms can begin as early as six to eight hours after your last drink and persist for days or even weeks after you stop drinking. 

Is it Safe to Detox at Home?

Generally, detoxing from alcohol at home is not recommended by health professionals because the symptoms can vary so much depending on a person’s individualized addiction and the overall state of their health. Every withdrawal experience will be different. The symptoms can be dangerous to a person’s well-being, and can even be fatal. 

Delirium Tremens

One of the main reasons detoxing from alcohol at home is not recommended is because of delirium tremens (DT). DT is a fast-acting onset of confusion that can occur around three days into the detox. It is known as the most severe form of withdrawal from alcohol. It causes a person to experience hallucinations, delirium, body tremors, irritability, mood changes, and loss of consciousness. It can be fatal if not treated properly soon after the symptoms begin. 


You shouldn’t detox from alcohol at home because seizures are another side effect of severe alcoholism when you begin having withdrawal. Seizures can occur whether or not you experience DT, and they can be fatal. 

Vital Signs

If you are detoxing at home, you cannot properly monitor vital signs and provide necessary care should they rise or drop. Complications from changes in blood pressure, temperature, and pulse can occur and can cause further health problems during the withdrawal

Detoxing Under Medical Supervision

To safely detox from alcohol, it is best to check yourself into a medical facility and go through detox under medical professionals’ supervision. This will ensure your safety as the staff can treat any complications that may arise and can provide you with medications to keep you comfortable. The facilities provide a structured environment that will help you safely detox. 

At an in-patient detox program, you will receive 24-hour care throughout the detox process. Medications can be given to alleviate discomfort, and a plan for after the detoxification process will be made to help you transition into the next step of recovery. This is why detoxing in an in-patient detox program is recommended. It sets you up for success in sobriety rather than leaving you hanging. 

Mentally Preparing Yourself for Detox

Once you make the decision that you need to detox, it is helpful to mentally prepare yourself for what is to come. Keep a journal to remind yourself why you are going through the process for the hard days. Remember that you will experience cravings and the withdrawal symptoms may be intense, but having written reminders from yourself that it will be worth it can be incredibly motivating. Also, be sure to reach out to friends and family as you prepare. Talk to loved ones about any fears you may have. They can offer encouragement to give you the motivation you may need. 

Going through withdrawals can be a daunting and overwhelming process, but it is worth it to reach sobriety. It is normal to feel embarrassed or anxious about detoxing and wanting to do it at home. However, it is recommended to do it at an in-patient detox facility with trained medical professionals that can help you. Rather than suffering at home and running the risk of further complications—and maybe even death—detoxing at the hospital can be much safer and more comfortable. Doctors and nurses can give you medications to relieve the discomfort and monitor your body for any signs of danger. You will be grateful you didn’t detox at home when you come out of detox clean and ready for the next step of treatment. 

We have many patients that are detoxing or have gone through detox at Northstar Transitions. We understand how overwhelming the experience will be. However, we do not recommend detoxing from alcohol at home. This can be extremely dangerous and lead to potentially fatal health problems. This is especially true if your addiction to alcohol is severe, in which case supervised detox is recommended. We provide state of the art care for all of our clients to give them the most comfortable detox possible. We also work with them to further their addiction treatment after the detox and withdrawal process so they can find happiness and healing within their sobriety. If you are thinking about detoxing from alcohol but are unsure where to start, give us a call at (303) 558-6400. We can discuss what is best for you and have you on the path to sobriety in no time.