Detoxing in a medical environment can prevent potentially dangerous health complications.
Alcohol misuse affects an estimated six percent of the U.S. population, or about 16 million adults and over 600,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17. It can be tempting to attempt to detox from alcohol at home, but there are some significant reasons why it is not usually safe to do so.
Dangers of Alcohol Detox
Detoxing from alcohol can be like spinning a roulette wheel. It is impossible to know what side effects you will experience during alcohol detox, which can begin eight to 12 hours after you stop drinking. The chances of serious side effects that are life-threatening or lethal make at-home detox a risky proposition.
Less severe side effects include depression, unclear thinking, confusion, mood swings, tremors, exhaustion, insomnia, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and rapid heartbeat. While these side effects can be uncomfortable, there are additional severe effects that can be life-threatening.
It is healthier and safer to have medical supervision during alcohol detox.
Dehydration, which can happen as a result of vomiting and not replacing lost fluids by drinking water or other beverages, can be a severe side effect when not dealt with properly. When exhaustion is combined with vomiting, people are especially vulnerable to dehydration because they may not have the energy to get up and drink water.
Delirium tremens (DTs) is another dangerous side effect of alcohol detox that affects a small number of people, but it can be life-threatening. DTs can cause grand mal seizures, hallucinations, confusion and high fevers. While DTs is more likely to affect long-term heavy drinkers, it is impossible to know who will experience it until it happens. Typically, DTs sets in three days to two weeks after detox begins.
Seizures can also happen independently of DTs and, in rare cases, lead to coma or death. Hostile behavior can also occur during alcohol detox and can lead to violent acts against others or oneself. This behavior is unpredictable and can have serious consequences, such as arrest or injury. Relapse during detox is also common because the craving to drink again to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms can be intense during this time.
Managing Alcohol Detox Safely
For a safe way to detox, a medically controlled environment can prevent or treat many of the potentially dangerous side effects that could lead to fatal results. Not only is medical detox supervised around the clock, but it gives you access to medications that can make detox easier and less uncomfortable.
While medication-assisted detox will not remove cravings for alcohol that can persist for weeks or longer after the initial detox period, it can prevent relapse during the detox period and help you get to the next step in the recovery process.
If you or any of your loved ones are concerned about detoxing from alcohol and need help to navigate this process, contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake today to discuss safe options for detox and further treatment.