Outpatient Alcohol Detox: Home Detoxification
Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : October 08,
2020 | 4 Sources
Before looking at outpatient alcohol detox, it is important to first establish what detoxing from alcohol is exactly. In short it is the process whereby the body is cleansed of alcohol.
It is only when this 'de-poisoning' has occurred that therapy, group work and other measures can be employed to help an alcoholic quit drinking.
Detox alone is not a treatment, but it is the initial step to getting better for patients who are alcohol dependent. (For a more detailed look at detox, read alcoholism detox.)
It is the second step you take, the first step being the decision to quit, when recovering from alcoholism.
Home Alcohol Detox vs. Detox Center
When it comes to detoxing from alcohol you've basically only got two choices, well three actually, but the third is not advised:
- Go to a residential alcohol treatment center or a detox center.
- Stay where you are and undergo an outpatient alcohol detox at home under medical supervision.
- Go cold turkey without medical supervision or consultation (this course of action is fraught with danger AND can be fatal. Do not attempt to withdraw from alcohol without medical assistance).
Why Choose Outpatient Alcohol Detox?
The second option above, that of outpatient alcohol detox, is one chosen by an increasing number of alcohol dependents. This is for a number of reasons:
- Home-centered alcohol detox program is less expensive than an inpatient alcohol detox program. You can significantly cut back on your expenses on medication, accommodation and medical staff. The monthly cost of alcohol rehab centers ranges from $10,000 to $75,000 and the regular in-patient rehab program often runs from one to two months.
- You will also have to seriously consider alcohol detox at home if you are concerned with your privacy. Some people need and want to maintain a low profile and keep their condition secret for valid reasons. Of course, you don’t want to compromise your reputation and integrity as a result of your alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, despite the widely held belief that alcoholism is a disease, there is still a lot of stigma attached to the condition.
- Another upside of this home-based option is that patients don’t have to take a long term leave of absence and break from their normal daily routine. This means that there will be no gap in your relationship with your family, friends, colleagues or business associates. The long-term separation from people with whom you are close is one of the major challenges in residential alcohol treatment programs.
Of course, alcohol detox at home also has its disadvantages
For example, you will be withdrawing from alcohol in an environment in which you probably drank before, so certain sights, sounds and smells may trigger drinking memories which, in turn may set off cravings for alcohol.
Also detoxing at home with your family, who will probably have resentments and anger left over from your alcoholic behavior
, may not be conducive to quitting drinking.
How to Detox from Alcohol at Home
The alcohol detoxification process must begin with a visit and consultation with a medical doctor or physician. Before the actual outpatient alcohol detox procedure is started at home, there must be a comprehensive assessment of your alcohol problem
Several tests will be performed to determine the degree of your alcohol addiction as well as your fitness to undergo alcohol detox at home. It is advised that you get some baseline observations and blood tests. This includes a full blood count, liver function, urea and electrolytes, iron studies, magnesium, phosphate, glucose, and calcium. Your doctor will also assess and prepare management protocol (i.e. what to do in the event of) for alcohol withdrawal symptoms
before you start detoxing from alcohol.
If you are worried about possible alcohol withdrawal symptoms, consult your doctor. A physician could evaluate your general health and history of alcohol abuse to help you identify how likely it is that you will experience symptoms.
The alcohol detoxification regimen will normally run for up to seven weeks (the physical symptoms should last no longer than three days).
During this period, you will be required to adopt a regimented and rigid lifestyle and daily routine. In most instances, a close member of the family or friend
will be required to assist you throughout each day. This is also a precautionary measure in situations where detox becomes unmanageable and immediate medical attention is needed.
Your doctor may also prescribe certain medications
to help you through the detoxification process and manage the withdrawal or alcohol detox symptoms.
While undergoing an outpatient alcohol detox, you will also have to make sure you drink plenty of liquid
and follow a strict diet
for the entire duration of the treatment. A typical alcohol detox diet will normally include bananas, oranges and vegetables. A healthy diet while detoxing is essential. You may well have neglected your diet while actively drinking and as a result be suffering from malnutrition and/or vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Your doctor or a nurse will conduct regular home visits to monitor your progress and undertake necessary intervention when necessary.
Home Alcohol Detox is Only the Beginning
It can never be stressed enough that quitting and then detoxing from alcohol is only the start. True, there are some who just seem to have quit drinking and go about their lives as before. However, for the majority this does not work.
If you want to stay away from alcohol for the long term
, then it is necessary to have a support network in place, to take a look at your behavior, habits and the environment in which you work and live. Will you be able to stay off alcohol if you continue as before? This is a question only you can answer. However, if you are interested in exploring your options then take a look at my pages on Alcoholics Anonymous
, AA Alternatives
or on alcoholism cures
Of course, maybe you just want to take a rest from alcohol for a while, and have no intention of abstaining in the long run and that's fine.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all detox solution, and what might work for one person may not work for someone else. Nonetheless, understanding the various options could be an important first step.
Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl
Licensed Medical Health Professional
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More
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