Alcohol Detox Remedies: At Home & Medical Treatment
Last Updated: November 2, 2023
Remedies for alcohol detox may be used in combination with proven detox treatments to help ease the withdrawal process.
Stopping alcohol can be challenging, causing unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. While it is impossible to avoid alcohol detox symptoms completely, there are many potential remedies that people use to lessen the discomfort. These remedies are best used in combination with established medical treatments.
While detox remedies can offer some degree of relief, they are not a substitute for medical supervision during detox. Alcohol detox can be deadly, and someone with moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms should always detox under the care of a medical professional.
The Process of Alcohol Detoxification
Those undergoing alcohol detoxification should always seek medical advice before beginning. Stopping alcohol can result in life-threatening symptoms, and it is important to speak with a doctor to understand the risks you will encounter and the best way to manage them.
When starting alcohol detox under medical supervision, there are three distinct stages of care typically provided. These include:
- Initial assessment: During the first assessment, your healthcare team will evaluate the risks you are likely to encounter during detox. They will then determine the best plan for managing your symptoms and keeping you comfortable during detox.
- Stabilization: If you have already begun detoxing, your healthcare team will focus on getting you comfortable and treating symptoms that have started. If you are about to begin detox, they will focus on monitoring for new symptoms and addressing them as they occur.
- Transition into treatment: As detox symptoms begin to resolve, your treatment team will transition from focusing on detox to what comes after it. Stopping alcohol is only one part of recovery. Rehab and aftercare can help you maintain your hard-won success.
Home Remedies for Alcohol Detoxification
You should only ever attempt alcohol detox at home if you’ve discussed your situation with a doctor and they have cleared you to do so. Alcohol detox can be very dangerous. It is important to avoid attempting it by yourself unless a doctor is convinced you are likely to experience only mild detox symptoms.
Home remedies for alcohol detox don’t have to be exclusively for at home. You can use these remedies to support your detox efforts regardless of the environment. Potential steps you can take to support your alcohol detox efforts include:
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration increases the stress your body experiences. Staying hydrated can help you better physically cope with the strain withdrawal creates on your body.
- Follow a balanced diet: Following a diet high in healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables and lean meats, can help support your overall health and better equip your body during withdrawal.
- Exercise regularly: Physical exercise not only helps your health, but it can also stimulate the release of chemicals in your brain that improve your mood and well-being. Exercising can help you cope with detox symptoms better, both from a physical and mental standpoint.
- Get adequate sleep: Staying well-rested can help you feel more ready to face the challenges of withdrawal. It is important to keep in mind that alcohol detox can cause insomnia; you may want to ask your doctor for medicine to help promote high-quality sleep.
- Avoid stimulants: Stimulates, like caffeine, can worsen detox symptoms. During detox, your body and mind will be hyperactive. Stimulants can increase the hyperactivity you are already experiencing.
- Mindfulness and meditation: Mindfulness and meditation can help you be more present, better equipping you to cope with detox by helping you understand your subconscious responses to detox.
Medical detoxification refers to alcohol detox in which the entire process is monitored by healthcare professionals who can provide medical treatments as symptoms occur. Detox is the first step in overcoming alcohol addiction and is crucial for individuals who have developed a physical dependence to alcohol.
During a medical detox, there are several medications that can help improve withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- Benzodiazepines: These are the most commonly used medications for alcohol detox. They reduce the risk of seizures and help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
- Anticonvulsants: These can be used as an alternative to benzodiazepines in some patients, especially if there’s a concern about benzodiazepine misuse or other potential harm. They can also be combined with benzodiazepines if seizures are likely.
- Beta-blockers: Typically used to treat high blood pressure, these medicines can help manage symptoms like tremors, palpitations and high blood pressure, as well as improve anxiety.
- Antipsychotic medications: Antipsychotics can be considered in cases of agitation or hallucinations — symptoms that can occur in more severe situations.
Risks and Complications
Alcohol detox is considered the most dangerous form of substance withdrawal. Two complications of alcohol detox contribute to this. The first is seizures, uncontrollable convulsions that can occur unpredictably. Someone having a seizure can be seriously injured or even die if they choke during the seizure.
The second complication of alcohol detox is a condition called delirium tremens. This condition causes hallucinations, a high body temperature and seizures. It can occur with more severe withdrawal and is highly dangerous, resulting in death for up to 37% of people who don’t receive medical treatment. Even with medical treatment, delirium tremens can still occasionally be fatal.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, is a group of psychological symptoms that can last for weeks or months after completing detox. These symptoms can include:
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling anxious
- Having severe cravings
- Apathy or pessimism
- Problems sleeping
- Difficulty coping
PAWS may improve with therapy or given time. The longer you have been sober, the less likely PAWS symptoms are to affect you as they initially did.
Stopping alcohol can be hard, and the difficulties you face with detoxing may seem daunting. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, we are here to support you throughout your alcohol recovery journey. Our expert staff can keep you as safe and comfortable as possible while helping you achieve long-term success. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve a life free from alcohol addiction.
MedlinePlus. “Alcohol.” March 22, 2022. Accessed August 23, 2023.
Berman, Jacob. “Alcohol withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, February 28, 2023. Accessed August 23, 2023.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol’s Effects on Health.” October 2022. Accessed August 23, 2023.
Berman, Jacob. “Delirium tremens.” MedlinePlus, February 28, 2023. Accessed August 23, 2023.
Rahman, Abdul & Paul, Manju. “Delirium Tremens.” StatPearls, August 14, 2023. Accessed August 23, 2023.
Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. “Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).” 2023. Accessed August 23, 2023.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.