Alcohol detox is the process in which your body frees itself from the toxins associated with alcohol addiction. The period in which the body purges alcohol is called acute detox, and during this time, your body must break its physical dependence on alcohol. Mental dependence on alcohol is broken during acute detox and the subsequent period of rehabilitation.
Can You Detox at Home?
It is possible to detox from alcohol at home with the appropriate support. Alcohol detox involves both physical symptoms and an almost uncontrollable mental urge for alcohol. Therefore, in order to detox at home, you must be under the care of a person who can cope with and manage the symptoms of detox, someone who can prevent you from injuring yourself, and someone who can ensure that you do not obtain access to alcohol during the detox period. Following the period of acute detox, you generally must attend meetings and/or find another type of support to overcome mental addiction.
In-patient rehab is generally more expensive and requires an average of six weeks of living in residence at a detox center. However, you will be monitored 24 hours a day during the acute detox period, and therapy options and support meetings will be available on site.
What to Expect
Within 12- to 24-hours after your last drink, you will begin experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. The initial symptoms are simply irritability, craving alcohol, anorexia (the inability to eat), nausea, and insomnia. After approximately 24 hours, you may begin to have auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations. The auditory and tactile hallucinations usually stop after 48- to 72-hours, but the visual hallucinations may persist and peak about 5 days after you start detox. You may also begin to experience seizures, tremors, convulsions, hypertension, delirium and fever anywhere from 48- to 72-hours after detox. For patients with severe alcoholism, symptoms usually peak after 5 days. In general, acute detox usually takes anywhere from 3- to 7-days depending on the extent of your addiction..
Drugs to Help
Certain drugs can help make the detox process less painful by reducing symptoms. These drugs include benzadiazeine, beta blockers, carbamazepine, haloperiodl, phenytonin, and clonidine.