How At-Home Drug or Alcohol Detox Can be Harmful

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Substance detox is the first step in overcoming your addiction, and probably the most important one, as detox will set the tone for your entire recovery experience. For most people, the best way to undergo detox is within a professional detox facility, such as our very own Bright Futures Boynton Beach recovery center. Due to numerous complications that may arise during the detox process, it is advisable to have access to medical professionals that can monitor your condition. Even so, many people choose to detox at home. However, what most people do not realize is how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful. In this article, we are going to explain exactly what detox is, possible withdrawal symptoms that you may encounter, and show you how dangerous detoxing at home can be.

What is detox?

Basically, alcohol or drug detox involves cleansing your body of any harmful chemicals and/or effects. However, while this may seem simple to understand, there are numerous factors that make this process very dangerous. Once your body gets addicted to a certain substance, it can be very difficult to simply stop using the substance altogether. In other words, simply going “cold turkey” will bring a variety of withdrawal symptoms with it. Depending on your substance abuse history, these withdrawal symptoms can have serious, even life-threatening consequences. This is the primary reason why most people choose to undergo treatment in an alcohol rehab Florida center, as they can benefit from 24/7 medical supervision. If you are trying to detox at home, you are on your own no matter what happens.

blocks spelling "detox" on a blue plate
Detox stands for cleansing your body of harmful chemicals, substances, and effects.

However, this does not mean that you absolutely need to stay in a medical facility 24/7 while undergoing detox. Everyone experiences different withdrawal symptoms, after all, and it may be possible to undergo detox in an outpatient setting. What is important, however, is that you have professional guidance. If you, for example, can’t afford to attend a full medical detox program at a treatment facility, you will want to at least talk to medical professionals that have extensive experience with treating addiction. That way, you will know what to do if you experience any of the life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

That being said, the first thing you will want to understand is what can happen to you while detoxing at home.

Possible drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms can be very difficult to manage when trying to detox. Furthermore, you will have to deal with intense cravings all along the way, making the entire experience even more challenging. This is due to the fact that your nervous system goes into an overload state when you suddenly stop using a substance that your body is addicted to. The body tries to compensate for the lack of the substance and tries to rebalance itself to account for the lack of presence of drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, your brain will start producing various hormones and chemicals that will make you want to use the substance again. This is what creates withdrawal symptoms.

Depending on your substance use history, you may experience anything from mild withdrawal symptoms to life-threatening ones. Some of the factors that can influence your withdrawal symptoms include your overall health (both physical and mental), the exact substance you have been abusing, and the length of time you’ve abused the substance. This is why most Florida prescription drugs addiction treatment programs conduct a thorough analysis of your medical history and drug or alcohol use history, as well as conduct a thorough medical examination. Without this information, detox can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening.

Some of the notable withdrawal symptoms that you may experience during the detox process include:

  • Sensitivity to pain
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Body temperature changes
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability

The exact withdrawal symptoms as well as their severity will differ from one person to another, as well as the substance you are detoxing from. Alcohol detox, in particular, can be extremely dangerous as it has the possibility to induce seizures and even delirium tremens.

Minimizing the withdrawal symptoms

Luckily, there are ways to minimize or even completely remove some withdrawal symptoms, through the use of FDA-approved medications. However, these medications add to the cost of alcohol detox and you may want to ask if insurance covers alcohol rehab before you make any final decisions. Furthermore, it is not advisable (and usually illegal) to procure any such medications on your own. The best course of action is to visit your doctor and have them prescribe any medications that your detox process may require. Better yet, you may want to undergo professional treatment at a specialized detox facility.

Doctor explaining How At-Home Drug or Alcohol Detox Can be Harmful
You always want to talk to your doctor first.

Trying to detox at home may be a cheaper alternative, but it is usually not recommended. Let’s see why that is the case.

How At-Home Drug or Alcohol Detox Can be Harmful

The reason why detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home is not recommended is due to the fact that your withdrawal symptoms might be all but impossible to manage on your own. Due to the fact that your body is reliant on a particular substance to function, you will have great difficulty persuading yourself to remain sober. This is why most people who try to detox at home usually relapse at some point and start asking questions such as does Amerihealth cover drug rehab? You see, when you suddenly stop the intake of a substance that your body is addicted to, your body becomes flooded with various chemicals in order to try and restore balance. As you might imagine, this can lead to some very nasty side effects.

Depending on your substance of choice, these side effects can produce considerable risks to your body and mind. If not managed properly, your withdrawal symptoms may become too much to bear.

The risks of detoxing from alcohol at home

There are six notable risks that are associated with alcohol withdrawal:

  • Dehydration
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Delirium Tremens
  • Heart rhythm issues

The reason why most people choose to detox in a professional treatment facility is that these risks will be closely monitored and acted upon. If you are alone at your home, you simply have no way of stopping some of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms. With that in mind, let’s take a look at these risks in a bit more detail.


Since alcohol is a diuretic (helps rid your body of salt and water), becoming dehydrated is always a danger. In fact, many people who undergo alcohol detox are already dehydrated. As alcohol withdrawal progresses, it is quite possible that your body will lose even more water due to diarrhea and vomiting, creating an electrolyte imbalance that will affect your entire central nervous system. This imbalance has the potential to create a variety of side effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Mental confusion
  • Delirium tremens
  • Seizures
a drop of water
Proper hydration is extremely important during detox.

Out of all these side effects, seizures and delirium tremens are the most dangerous ones. If you are wondering how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful, the simple fact that you can experience either of these side effects is the answer enough.


For many people, seizures will be the first sign of alcohol withdrawal. Seizures can range from mild to severe, and they usually start with small involuntary muscle contractions. Over time, as alcohol withdrawal continues, you may start experiencing full-body seizures that can be potentially life-threatening. You will usually start experiencing seizures within the first 48 hours of detox.

Nausea and/or vomiting

Once you stop drinking, your brain tries to rebalance the body’s neurotransmitters to function without alcohol. This has a nauseating effect and can lead to vomiting. These symptoms may occur immediately after you stop drinking and may last for up to two weeks after you stop drinking.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens (DTs) are one of the most dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms.  In fact, DTs are the synonym for how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful. Basically, DTs are violent deliriums accompanied by tremors that can have extremely dangerous consequences. DTs usually occurs after one or two days of becoming sober.

Delirium Tremens are usually accompanied by several other symptoms such as high blood pressure, shakiness, confusion, and delirium. Managing DTs all but requires medical supervision. However, medical supervision can be costly.

Heart rhythm issues

While detoxing from alcohol, your heart may start to beat erratically. This is usually a part of delirium tremens, but it can happen on its own as well. Furthermore, there is a good chance that you may experience increased blood pressure while detoxing, as well as other blood circulation issues.

The risks of detoxing from drugs at home

While detoxing from drugs is usually not as dangerous as detoxing from alcohol (depending on the drug, of course), there are things that make detoxing from home exceptionally risky. They include:

  • Higher chance of a relapse
  • Potential overdose
  • Various health complications
  • Detoxing from drugs at home is dangerous for your mental well-being
person smoking a joint, symbolizing How At-Home Drug or Alcohol Detox Can be Harmful
At-home detox makes relapse much more likely.

Furthermore, most drugs can induce dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can occur as fast as a few hours after your last dose. Even if you believe that you have ironclad willpower, you may find the detox process extremely challenging and all but impossible in some cases. It is much better to seek Adderall addiction treatment, for example, than it is to try and detox on your own. By having a team of medical professionals on standby, you will avoid all of the associated risks and allow yourself to detox in a safe environment.

That being said, let’s take a more in-depth look into these risks.

Higher chance of a relapse

One of the greatest dangers of detoxing at home is the extremely high chance of relapse. While you may be able to endure the initial withdrawal symptoms, your willpower will be tested time and time again as these symptoms intensify. The entire process is so challenging that almost 60% of people relapse during their detox. Do note that this number includes medical detox as well as home detox. If we were only to account for a home detox, the number would be more like 90%.

Relapse can be extremely damaging in more ways than one. First, it will erode your willpower, making subsequent attempts at becoming sober more difficult. Second, it may have a serious impact on your financial situation, and may make you ask does Blue Cross Blue Shield cover rehab, for example. Therefore, the best thing you can do is minimize the chances of relapse by visiting a professional detox facility in the first place.

Potential overdose

If relapse was not enough to put you off from detoxing at home, the risk of overdose should be. The fact of the matter is that the increased risk of an overdose is the #1 reason why at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful. In 2020, almost 95,000 people died from a drug overdose, according to the CDC drug overdose report. While not all of those deaths happened during detox, many of them did. The reason why detox creates a higher overdose risk is that it distorts your mind through withdrawal symptoms. At some point, all you want is a reprieve from your symptoms and you might not pay full attention to exactly how much of the substance you are using.

Various health complications

Another very dangerous part of the detox process is the fact that your body is undergoing significant changes. The side effects of alcohol or drug detox can create numerous complications that you might not be able to remedy on your own. This is further exacerbated if you happen to have any co-occurring chronic health conditions. Not understanding the connection between chronic conditions and detox is yet another way how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful. The only way that you can be safe is if you have adequate medical care during detox. It is no wonder that the first question on the minds of many people who need to go through detox is whether Aetna covers rehab, for example. While professional detox may be somewhat expensive, the fact that your health complications can be addressed and treated is well worth the price.

person holding a pill and a glass of water
Chronic health conditions make detox even more dangerous.

Detoxing from drugs at home is dangerous for your mental well-being

Mental issues during detox can be extremely difficult to handle on your own. There’s a good chance that you will experience panic, depression, frustration, exhaustion, or similar issues. The added mental pressure can have considerable consequences, even leading to death by suicide. This is why it is very important to have someone around while you are detoxing from drugs or alcohol. While the feelings themselves can be very intense at times, the presence of medical professionals can help alleviate most of them.

You can, of course, simply have someone from your social circle be there for you during the detox phase. However, while they might be able to assist you with mental health issues, they will most likely not be qualified to help with everything else that you might require. Detoxing at home is incredibly risky, after all, as you never know what kind of complications you might face. It is usually much better to find a way to enroll in one of the professional medical detox programs.

Who can benefit from at-home drug or alcohol detox?

The only people that might want to attempt at-home drug or alcohol detox are those that are not yet physically addicted to drugs or alcohol. If you only have to deal with very mild withdrawal symptoms and mild cravings, you might want to try to detox on your own. However, you will also need to have ample support from your loved ones, as the process is still going to be quite difficult. The first few days will be especially hard, as this is where you will encounter most of the potent withdrawal symptoms. Your support system needs to be there for you and help keep you mentally and physically stable.

Furthermore, if you are attempting to detox at home, you will want to be surrounded by people that are familiar with dangerous warning signs. If something goes wrong, they need to be able to recognize what is happening and take steps to address the medical emergency. Your support also needs to know how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful, as they are your “last line of defense”.

Why it is best to undergo professional medically-supervised detox

The reason why medically-supervised detox is usually your best option is due to the fact that the detox process can be quite unpredictable. Since every person is unique, you never know what kind of complications you might face. Your body and mind will be undergoing significant changes, after all, and you might need the assistance of medical professionals to minimize any consequences.

medical professional
Having medical professionals on standby will minimize the risks associated with detox.

Many people believe that professional medical detox involves being in a small, dark, room while also being isolated from everyone else. This image alone is enough for many to try detoxing at home instead. However, modern-day detox programs are nothing like that. Throughout medical detox, you will be staying in a home-like environment while also having access to numerous amenities. You can leave your room any time you like, explore the common spaces, and talk to your peers and medical staff. Furthermore, your medical professionals will be constantly monitoring your comfort level, providing you with anything you might need to avoid unnecessary discomfort, and attending to any emergencies that might arise. There’s even an option for couples rehab in Florida, allowing you and your partner to manage your withdrawal symptoms in a safe and controlled environment.

There’s another reason why you might want to consider professional medical detox. Most of the time, detox is just the first part of the recovery process. Recovering from addiction requires extensive treatment in a treatment center, after all. By undergoing medical detox, you will become familiar with the center, allowing you to attain recovery in a shorter period of time.

Treatment options

After you successfully complete the detox program, you will be presented with numerous treatment options. Inpatient treatment is usually the best option for people with addiction to drugs or alcohol, but outpatient treatment is available as well. You may also choose partial hospitalization or an intensive outpatient program. The options that are at your disposal will depend on your treatment center of choice, of course.

At Bright Futures Treatment Center, we can provide you with numerous treatment options for drug and alcohol addiction, including:

  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Couples Rehab
  • Medically Assisted Treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Alumni program

Furthermore, you will have access to various therapeutic activities, group sessions, holistic treatment, and trauma-informed treatment. We also offer both clinical buildings and residential housing so you can be as comfortable as possible during your stay with us.

Bright Futures Treatment Center – Your Partner for a Brighter Future!

Once you understand how at-home drug or alcohol detox can be harmful, the natural next step would be to search for a suitable treatment facility. At Bright Futures, our mission is to light the pathway to community wellness and provide a brighter future for everyone! We are here to help families and individuals to overcome their addiction and make a full recovery in an easy and comfortable manner. Our medical detox program will provide you with FDA-approved medications that will help normalize body functions and brain chemistry, allowing you to return to your normal life as soon as possible. Say no to addiction, contact us today!

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