One of the most important steps in recovering from alcohol addiction is successfully making it through the process of detoxifying from alcohol and clearing all chemical dependency from your system. It is crucial for every person to get through detox before entering rehab so that they are not dealing with physical addiction but rather the mental aspects of being sober.
What many people don't realize however is that detoxing from alcohol can actually be very dangerous and should never be done without the help of professionals. People may be under the impression that they can simply go "cold turkey" at home to get the alcohol out of their system before rehab but this is not the case.
Anyone detoxing at home is putting themselves at risk for serious health problems and possibly life-threatening consequences.
Why is Detox Dangerous?
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol addiction can vary for each person who is attempting to quit. They could be mild or very severe depending on the person's current state of health and the level of their substance abuse.
Detox is a complex process with a sometimes unpredictable outcome. Withdrawal symptoms could include a range of things like shakiness, chills, anxiety, depression, sweating, irritability, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, insomnia, nausea and in more severe cases seizures and hallucinations.
The symptoms could last only a few days but for some people they can last up to two weeks or more. Since it is difficult to predict the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms for each person, an alcoholic may not be fully prepared for what happens to them while they are going through detox.
Going through detox at home means you have no one to monitor or keep an eye on your health and you will not have the proper medication when you are dealing with more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Risks of Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
When a person has been drinking heavily for many years, their body comes to expect high levels of alcohol to be in their system at all times. Suddenly abstaining from alcohol causes the body to become physically ill without the drug it has been relying on to function. For some drinkers withdrawal symptoms can begin after only a few hours without alcohol but more often detox can set in after about 12 hours of abstaining.
People usually experience common symptoms initially like shakiness and nausea but for some the symptoms can rapidly progress into more severe issues like delirium tremens or DTs. Alcoholics who experience DTs may develop a fever, rapid heartbeat and confusion.
In some cases, delirium tremens can be a fatal withdrawal symptom with about 1 to 5 percent of detoxing alcoholics losing their life due to DTs. Alcohol withdrawal can be especially risky for people who have been through it before but eventually relapsed.
It can also be more dangerous to detox if you have a history of seizures or have pre-existing health problems like heart or lung disease.
No matter what the circumstances of your alcohol addiction, it is important to have a medical professional monitoring you throughout the process of detox. Checking into a detox facility is the best option for people looking to recover from their alcohol addiction.
If you want to be safe and eventually live a healthy and sober lifestyle then avoiding the dangers of detox is the only way to ensure a successful recovery. Detoxing in a facility with nurses, doctors and fully trained staff members will not only be more comfortable for an alcoholic but it could prevent the potentially dangerous consequences of suddenly quitting alcohol consumption.