If you live with alcoholism or love someone who does, you understand the impact this condition can have on every aspect of a person’s life. Long-term alcohol abuse can damage your physical and emotional health, can impair your ability to set and achieve goals, and damage your social and financial health. It is nearly impossible to live a healthy, fulfilling life when you live with alcoholism.

When someone decides to get support and treatment for their alcohol use disorder, it should be celebrated. Taking steps to overcome the emotional and physical aspects of addiction takes hard work and commitment, but the rewards are endless. Getting help for alcoholism usually involves having an evaluation, going through detox, and completing an addiction treatment program. Since addiction is a condition that can never be cured, people must find a way to stay engaged and active in their recovery for the rest of their lives.

Some people may wonder if it is safe to detox from alcohol at home or if they need to go through medically supervised detox at a treatment facility. Research suggests people who have medically supervised detox have a better rate of long-term success.[1] Understanding the benefits of supervised detox and the dangers of alcohol detox at home can help you make the best choice for your unique situation.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

People can develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol for many reasons. Some people have biological or environmental factors that make it harder for them to regulate their alcohol intake. Others use alcohol to self-medicate or dull uncomfortable emotions. With ongoing heavy use, your body can acclimate to the presence of alcohol and become physically dependent on it.[2] Some signs that you may be living with an alcohol use disorder or alcoholism include:

  • Increasing the frequency or amount of alcohol consumed
  • Using despite negative consequences, such as injuries or legal problems
  • Damage to health because of alcohol consumption
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you cut back or stop drinking work or school
  • Isolating
  • Changes in sleep, mood, or appetite

Having any of these symptoms might indicate that you are developing a physical dependence on alcohol. If you want to stop drinking alcohol, you may require support or medical treatment to do so safely. Never attempt to detox at home alone, especially from alcohol.

Is it Safe to Detox From Alcohol at Home?

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. That means it slows down the activity of the CNS when consumed. This depressant effect is often experienced as relaxation, a feeling of well-being, or sleepiness. With ongoing use, the body adjusts to the presence of alcohol by increasing CNS activity. When someone suddenly stops drinking, the CNS remains in this overactive state. This can result in a range of withdrawal symptoms, including:[3]

withdrawal symptoms of stopping alcohol
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Cravings

While many of these symptoms are merely uncomfortable, some people develop more serious symptoms, such as seizures. The cravings that people experience are often very strong, especially during the first few days without alcohol. They can be so strong that many people find it almost impossible not to drink. A complete detox from alcohol is very difficult without support and supervision.

Potential Dangers of Going Through Alcohol Detox at Home

While most people do not experience dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, about 5% of people who are undergoing detox from alcohol develop a condition called Delirium Tremens (DTs). Delirium Tremens is a serious, sometimes fatal, medical condition that requires immediate medical intervention.[4] Symptoms of DTs include:

  • Delusions
  • Increased body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Shaking
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Incoherent thoughts
  • Hallucinations

Delirium Tremens (DTs)
People are thought to be at a higher risk for developing Delirium Tremens if they have a history of chronic alcohol use, a history of seizures during withdrawal, other chronic health conditions, or are over the age of 30. People are also at an increased risk of developing DTs if they have an elevated blood alcohol level before detox or have developed this condition during past periods of withdrawal.[4]
Even when people do not experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, the discomfort of withdrawal and the intensity of their cravings can lead many to relapse early in the detox process. For the best chance of a safe, complete detox from alcohol, it is crucial to go through medically supervised alcohol detox and complete an addiction treatment program. Without professional help, attempting to detox from alcohol at home can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

detox from alcohol

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Woburn Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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Reach out to the staff at Woburn Addiction Treatment for more information about our programs and the programs we work closely with. We offer treatment and support for people at any stage of addiction or recovery. Getting treatment for an addiction is a sign of strength. If you are ready to take the first step towards a healthy, sober life, we will walk the rest of the way with you.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15540492/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161700/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4085800/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK4
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