When it comes to overcoming an addiction, such as drugs, detoxing is always a challenge despite your desire to get clean, and overcoming alcohol is no different. But trying to perform your alcohol detox at home makes the challenge even greater, and possibly even a danger to your health.
As an addict, one of the most rewarding feelings in your life will be the day you can finally proclaim that you are sober, whether it be from drugs, alcohol, or another addiction. However, quite often that vision of sobriety and success is not enough drive alone to carry an addict to sobriety through an alcohol detox at home.
Detoxing is not only difficult, but it poses both emotional and physical risks. So, by trying to detox at home, and furthermore on your own, you are only increasing those risks by that much more.
Think about it like this - have you ever tried to never eat chocolate again while sitting in front of your absolute favorite chocolate cake? The temptation is constant and chances are, you will give in faster than you even realize what is happening. When it comes to giving up something that has been a major aspect of your life for any extended period of time, it takes help. Just like it takes an army to raise a child, it takes an army to overcome addiction.
The Cold, Hard Facts
Alcoholism, by definition, describes someone who has a physical and/or psychological desire to consume alcohol beyond their capacity to control it, and they continue to make this choice despite the effects it has on their life. An alcoholic is someone who can watch this substance destroy their family, and still give in to the craving at the end of the day. But, they aren’t alone – millions of Americans are suffering from this same scenario.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 21.5 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014. And of those 21.5 million Americans suffering from a substance use disorder, almost 80 percent struggled with an alcohol use disorder.
However, thanks to the proper treatment, resources, and hard work, many Americans are able to successfully recover from their addiction. But when it comes time for you to start your journey to sobriety, don’t give in to the temptation to go it alone and do an alcohol detox at home because the following risks are just lying in wait for you.
A key factor in what separates alcoholics from just recreational drinkers is the fact that their body is now physically dependent on it. They are unable to function normally without it, meaning their body literally now needs the alcohol to be normal. As a result of this developed dependence on it, as alcoholics begin to stop drinking, they also begin to experience withdrawals.
A withdrawal is a natural process that removes the toxins from their system, however, it also causes extremely uncomfortable physical and emotional experiences. As the detox begins, the addict's body is now realizing that something is missing – the alcohol. While the body is working hard to return itself to normal, it is not used to functioning without the alcohol and therefore triggers these uncomfortable experiences.
Withdrawals are not only uncomfortable but could also become deadly if you are attempting to detox from alcohol at home and don't have immediate access to help in a time of emergency.
When people are alcoholics, they feel a sense of ease and relaxation when they drink, and then become addicted to this feeling. The primary neurotransmitter tied to the production of this feeling of relaxation and ease is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The excessive use of alcohol causes addicts to have a GABA imbalance, this imbalance is what results in negative withdrawal symptoms during detox, which can be both emotional and physical symptoms.
In addition to affecting the neurotransmitter GABA, alcohol abuse also negatively affects dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to the body’s reward system. This reward system is housed in the pleasure center of your brain which regulates your energy, motivation, and enjoyment. This specific neurotransmitter is also responsible for other important aspects of a person’s life and mental well-being, such as sense of attention, cognition, and mood.
As an addict begins to detox from alcohol, they lack that dopamine that the alcohol was triggering, which triggered some of the happy feelings an addict craves. The more someone drinks, the more immune their body gets to the dopamine, therefore the more they require. As a result, when they suddenly stop drinking and the dopamine production comes to a halt, they can experience negative emotional consequences such as anxiety and depression.
During a sensitive time like recovery, the anxiety and depression are already triggered by such a sudden lifestyle change and often a loss of friends or other triggers and enablers. This depression and anxiety are then also increased by the physiological effects of an alcohol detox.
This emotional factor alone is one of the biggest risks of an alcohol detox at home – emotional support is so desperately needed at a time like this.
Being an alcoholic clearly takes a toll on your body – it negatively affects several neurotransmitters and damages your normal bodily functions, such as the normal processes of your liver. And just as this can cause several negative emotional responses, it can also cause just as many or more negative physical responses, including insomnia, headaches, tremors, and seizures.
While these symptoms are not necessarily avoidable, by doing your alcohol detox in a professional facility as opposed to at home, you can have access to the resources you need to help ease the symptoms. And unfortunately, sometimes these symptoms can cause medical emergencies, requiring medical professional intervention.
Being at home would not only isolate you from the resources to ease your symptoms, but it could also prevent you from getting the help you need should one of these symptoms turn potentially deadly.
Temptation is always around us – and the temptation to drink is no different. Alcohol is advertised from restaurant to restaurant, at the grocery store, on commercials and even on clothing. It just seems like the normal thing to do.
While these constant images of alcohol might not bother some, for a recovering alcoholic, it might just be the tip of a relapse iceberg. By focusing on your recovery at a professional facility, you can eliminate these temptations, as you will not be surrounded by alcohol ads and people drinking. You will be in a safe and inviting environment, with others who have similar experiences as you.
Temptations and triggers are similar – a temptation could just be someone drinking around you, which makes it tempting to drink. However, a trigger is something that has caused you to drink in the past – it is more like something you have an emotional attachment to. For example, if you always drank at one specific bar because that is where you and your girlfriend broke up, visiting that bar will likely cause you to drink.
Like temptations, triggers are also something you can most likely separate yourself from at a professional facility. Triggers are difficult to overcome, especially when they are something emotional, and you will need help to fight the urge.
The topic of availability is plain and simple – is it really that difficult to walk into a liquor store and buy alcohol? No. But, is it really that difficult to find alcohol readily available and to get drunk at a professional rehabilitation facility? Yes.
Common triggers include:
It is much easier to give into triggers and temptations when the only thing stopping you is you opening the door of the liquor store. By placing yourself in a safe space where alcohol is not readily advertised or available, it makes giving in that much more work. And when it comes to recovery, you are that much less likely to give into the temptations and triggers if you really have to work for it. But if getting the alcohol is easy, it might be a whole different story.
Just like we mentioned temptation earlier, peer pressure falls right next to that. When you are surrounded by temptation, you might also find yourself feeling peer pressured into drinking as those around you are. It could be a result of them offering it to you, encouraging it, or just not being cautious of the fact that being around it could tempt you.
Peer pressure causes a lot of people to do a lot of things and it is just another risk that you expose yourself to if you decide to try and do an alcohol detox at home.
Lack of Support
Your support system during recovery is one of the most important keys to success. While you might have family at home, you also need a team of experienced professionals who can provide you support around the clock. Additionally, it is important to be surrounded by others who have gone or are going through the same thing and can directly relate to how you feel physically and emotionally.
There is no denying that trying to do your alcohol detox at home will not include the amount of support you will have at an actual facility. This can leave you feeling alone, which can often lead to negative choices and outcomes.
Benefits of a Professional Facility
As you can see, detoxing from alcohol is challenging - mentally and physically. It takes great strength, several various resources, and a lot of support.
A professional facility can offer you access to all of the things you need to succeed. And by doing your research and locating the best facility for you, you can also find a place that has a program designed for you and one that you feel will help you be the most successful.
Having that extra support and the correct tools can really make all the difference when it comes to detoxing from alcohol. Make the decision today to recover in a professional facility and make the decision today to become a part of one of the many Americans who do recover.
The Road to Success
When it comes to detoxing from alcohol, you should be familiar with the acronym, HALT. HALT is something that will follow you through your detox and recovery.
H – Hungry
A – Angry
L – Lonely
T – Tired
These four items are things you should avoid – they are considered high-risk situations for those who are in recovery. Trying to do your alcohol detox at home could continuously subject you to at least one, if not all four of these dangerous situations and emotions. The risk is all around you and it is just waiting for you to fail. However, it does not have to be that way.
The road to sobriety from alcohol begins with making the decision that it is time to detox from alcohol, get clean, and take back control of your life. However, the real road to recovery begins with making the decision of where and how you will detox from alcohol. Choosing the facility and the program that will best fit you is one of the most reliable ways to succeed in your journey to sobriety.
Attempting to pursue your alcohol detox journey at home poses many risks and might lead you to finding yourself as bad or worse off than you already were. Do the benefits really overrule the risks?
If you are ready to begin your journey to a new life, we encourage you to contact our treatment facility. We offer a safe haven where you will be equipped with the tools and support you need as you detox from alcohol. We want to ensure that you start your journey off on the right foot and feel enabled to succeed from the beginning.
Contact us today to find out more about our facility, treatment philosophy, and what our team can do for you or your loved one who is suffering from a crippling alcohol addiction.