While we generally applaud the DIY spirit, some challenges require professional assistance. Alcohol detox is one of them. Self-detoxing from alcohol is not only difficult to do, it’s also extremely hazardous to your health. Depending on your level of addiction and length of dependence on alcohol, self-detox may even be life-threatening. Let’s explore the ramifications of self-detox for alcohol, and how you can get help without putting your life at risk.
The Initial Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol detox produces withdrawal symptoms that can be painful, for both the person experiencing it and for loved ones to watch. Generally speaking, mental health professionals classify withdrawal symptoms into three categories:
- Mild Withdrawal – Minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually present within 24 hours from the last drink. You may experience shakes, anxiety, panic, sweating, twitching, an upset stomach or insomnia. You may also notice a rise in blood pressure or elevated pulse.
- Moderate Withdrawal – Moderate withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 24-36 hours of stopping your alcohol intake. These symptoms are more severe and may include tremors, insomnia, anxiety, hallucinations, seizures and marked increase in blood pressure or racing pulse.
- Severe Withdrawal – In extreme cases, self-administered alcohol detox can lead to severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are referred to delirium tremens (DTs) and occur between 12 and 48 hours after you stop drinking alcohol. DTs cause disorientation, irregular heartbeat, fever, rapid breathing and intense blood pressure spikes. If left untreated, about 20% of people who experience DTs will die.
It’s important to realize how alcohol withdrawal can be exacerbated by other health conditions. Even moderate or mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be deadly to someone with a co-existing heart or blood pressure condition. The longer and harder the drinking, the more severe the withdrawal and the higher the risk of life-threatening symptoms.
What Can You Do Instead?
It is clear that self-detoxing is not only dangerous, but ineffective. According to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the success rate of self-detox is less than 30%.
However, the danger associated with alcohol withdrawal is not an excuse to avoid getting sober. With professional assistance, you can effectively detox from alcohol and get on the road to living a healthy, productive life. Each case of alcohol detox is unique, so your professionally guided detox plan will depend on your history with dependence and other health factors.
With professional help, you can detox safely and find new hope in recovery. Reach out to Addiction Treatment Services – we’ll help you choose a detox treatment that will keep you safe and provide successful results.