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Recovering from alcohol dependence can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable. Withdrawal symptoms like vomiting and headaches can keep you bedridden for several days, while psychological symptoms of anxiety and depression can affect your well-being, making you feel unhappy and disheartened. In rare cases, alcohol withdrawal can be severe enough to cause seizures and death.

Detoxing from alcohol at home may seem like an easier and less costly option than receiving alcohol detox at an alcohol rehab center. But an at-home detox can be dangerous and risky when you lack access to an experienced support team. If you or a loved one need help withdrawing from alcohol, here’s why you should consider detoxing at alcohol rehab versus at home.

What Happens During Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is a term used to describe the set of symptoms you experience when you abruptly stop drinking or drink smaller amounts after becoming physically dependent on alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin anywhere between six and 24 hours after the last drink. Symptoms peak in severity at 36 to 72 hours after the last drink, then gradually dissipate during the days that follow. Alcohol withdrawal usually lasts between two and 10 days for most individuals.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Excess sweating.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dehydration.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Anxiety.
  • Tremors, especially in the hands.

In severe cases, symptoms can progress into a serious form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens, which is a medical emergency and can lead to deadly seizures when left untreated. Between 5% and 25% of patients with delirium tremens end up dying from their symptoms.

Delirium tremens symptoms may include:

  • Extreme agitation.
  • Extreme changes in body temperature and blood pressure.
  • Delirium and severe confusion.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.

The people most commonly affected are those who have been using alcohol for more than 10 years. Delirium tremens is also common among those who drink four to five pints of wine, seven to eight pints of beer, or one pint of hard liquor like vodka, whiskey, or gin every day for several months.

What are the Benefits of Medical Alcohol Detox?

medical alcohol detox takes place in a safe, controlled medical environment where patients are closely monitored by nurses and doctors throughout withdrawal. Alcohol detox usually takes place at a hospital, an alcohol rehab center, or a dedicated alcohol detox center.

There are several benefits to withdrawing from alcohol in a controlled medical setting at an alcohol detox center. First, patients can rest and relax during withdrawal without having to worry about stressors or daily responsibilities like going to work or caring for relatives and children. Second, patients can be prescribed medications that effectively reduce and relieve withdrawal symptoms to make the detox process less painful and difficult to endure.

Other benefits of alcohol detox at rehab include:

  • Having zero access to alcohol when cravings become too difficult to manage.
  • Being closely monitored by nurses who treat symptoms as they arise.
  • Facing a reduced risk for dangerous complications like dehydration and seizures.
  • Separation from negative people and environments that may influence you to drink.
  • The option to participate in group therapy and 12-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
  • Access to daily nutritious meals that speed your recovery.
  • Twenty-four-hour access to supportive professionals like therapists, psychologists, and counselors.

The most important benefit of medical alcohol detox is the ability to safely recover from alcohol dependence by facing a reduced risk for death and other serious complications.

Why is an At-Home Alcohol Detox Dangerous?

Detoxing from alcohol at home offers a number of risks, especially if you lack a strong support system of trusting, reliable friends and family. An at-home alcohol detox increases your risk for relapse despite your intention to quit alcohol for good. Many times, physical and psychological alcohol cravings can be severe enough to cause relapse even though you may plan on never drinking again.

Additionally, alcohol withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea can increase your risk for dehydration and malnourishment. Without healthy foods and fluids like water, fruits, and vegetables, your body can suffer worsened health as a result of alcohol withdrawal.

It’s important to remember that alcohol detox only helps you recover from physical dependence on alcohol, and does not treat the psychological components of alcohol addiction. Addiction is characterized by compulsive behaviors surrounding drug seeking and drug use despite negative consequences. Even if you stop drinking alcohol, your risk for relapse remains high if you don’t receive therapy to treat the root causes and underlying behaviors contributing to your alcohol addiction.

Qualities to Look for in an Alcohol Detox Center

There are a countless number of alcohol detox centers in Florida, but how can you tell if you’re choosing the best one?

Look for these qualities when choosing an alcohol detox center:

  • The right specialty: Choose a detox center that specializes in treating alcohol dependence, as opposed to a detox center that specializes in other substances like opioids or prescription drugs.
  • Individualized treatment: The best detox centers will tailor and customize their treatment plans to each patient to help them experience the best outcome.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment: Depression, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder are the most common co-occurring disorders that accompany alcohol addiction. Evidence suggests that people with alcohol use disorder are 21 times more likely to suffer antisocial personality disorder. Look for alcohol detox centers that also offer dual diagnosis therapy, or that can refer you to a treatment center that offers this therapy.
  • Individual and group therapy: Therapy teaches you how to stay abstinent from alcohol after going through detox, and helps you address the underlying reasons you started abusing alcohol in the first place. Choose an alcohol detox center that can connect you with individual and group therapies and therapeutic activities.
  • Experienced and licensed staff: Make sure the detox center is staffed with caring, compassionate professionals who have experience with treating alcohol dependence and addiction.
  • Medication maintenance: Many alcohol detox centers use medications that help relieve your withdrawal symptoms and that also reduce alcohol cravings and the desire to use alcohol. Ask the detox center whether they prescribe medications that treat alcohol withdrawal and addiction such as diazepam, acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone.

What Else Happens at an Alcohol Detox Center?

Alcohol detox is only the first stage of alcohol addiction treatment. Many alcohol rehab centers offer medical detox as part of large-scale, comprehensive treatment programs. In most cases, patients go through alcohol detox first, and are then referred to an inpatient or residential treatment program. Following detox, their days are packed with therapy sessions and therapeutic activities that help them experience a full recovery from alcohol addiction.

Family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement, community reinforcement, and 12-step AA meetings are just some therapies available at many alcohol rehab centers. Therapeutic activities may include yoga, meditation, exercise, hiking, music therapy, and art therapy. Some rehab centers also offer top-notch amenities like jacuzzis, daily massages, and gourmet meals that can enhance your recovery.

Choosing Summer House for Alcohol Detox

Summer House offers a range of medical detox services including alcohol detox, heroin detox, and benzodiazepine detox. After you or your loved one safely overcome drug and alcohol dependence, our medical staff and addiction specialists will refer you to a recovery program where you can receive therapy for addiction. 

Summer House alcohol detox in Florida can help you experience a safe, relaxing, and fulfilling recovery from alcohol dependence. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug and alcohol abuse in Fort Lauderdale, give Summer House Detox Center a call at 800-719-1090 to schedule a FREE consultation. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.