The Ultimate Guide to Safely Detox from Alcohol

Detoxing can be dangerous. Find out how Horizon Treatment Services can help you detox from alcohol safely.

Table of Contents

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal is the physical and mental symptoms one experiences when they have cut back or stopped drinking alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms usually only occur if one drinks heavily for weeks, months, or years.

Most occasional drinkers will not experience detox symptoms, as the body has not had time to adjust to alcohol in its system. Yet, even if you drink occasionally, you can still experience detox symptoms if you drink heavily.1
Detox from Alcohol

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Duration of Detox from Alcohol

Detox symptoms can vary from mild to severe and are mainly determined by the amount and length of time a person has been drinking. The more alcohol consumed and for a more extended period, the higher likelihood of causing severe withdrawal from alcohol. A detox from alcohol typically takes about a week. But some symptoms may last longer.

The timeline for alcohol withdrawal is usually:2

  • Initial withdrawal symptoms may begin around 6 to 8 hours after the last drink.
  • More moderate symptoms may appear between 12 and 48 hours after the last drink.
  • The severe symptoms may occur within 2 to 4 days after the last drink.

Factors that Determine Severity of Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol detox can vary from mild to severe. Several factors may determine the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, including:3
  • Duration of alcohol use: The longer you consume alcohol, the higher the likelihood of experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Amount of alcohol consumed: The more alcohol you drink, the higher the likelihood of experiencing more severe symptoms.
  • Physical health condition: The healthier you are, the less likely you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms, especially if you have a healthier liver, as alcohol gets processed in the liver.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms

These factors can determine the length of detox symptoms and their severity. Typical alcohol detox symptoms include:4
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Sweating/chills
  • Hand tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens

What are Delirium Tremens (DTs)?

Delirium tremens, or DTs, are severe symptoms caused by detox from alcohol. DTs usually start around 2 to 3 days after the individual stops drinking. The symptoms can also last 2 or 3 days but may linger longer. If untreated, delirium tremens can cause a heart attack, stroke, or even death.5

How to Detox from Alcohol

Your detox from alcohol experience is determined by the severity of your drinking history and the severity of the symptoms. People can sometimes be treated at home, while others require hospitalization or a medically stable environment. The first step to determining the safest and most effective detox method is to contact a medical provider.

Inpatient Detox

Inpatient detox means living at a hospital or facility while you detox. Going through alcohol detox in a facility is usually the safest option. This is because you are medically monitored and provided with round-the-clock staff. Inpatient detox facilities also have medical professionals who can provide medication management to alleviate symptoms.6

Inpatient Detox Programs

Typical inpatient detox from alcohol programs can be between 3 to 7 days and depend on the withdrawal symptoms’ severity. After the detox, a person may go to an inpatient or residential program to continue treatment. 

These programs may last anywhere from 30 days to 1 year. Besides the actual process of detoxing from alcohol, these programs may also include a wide range of services, such as:

Detox from Alcohol

Detox at Home

Many people are not advised to detox from alcohol at home due to the increased risk of medical complications that can arise during alcohol detox. But in some circumstances, it may be the only option. In this case, it is important to take steps to make sure you are detoxing safely.

Talk with Your Medical Provider

The first step to at-home alcohol detox is to contact your doctor or medical provider and discuss your options. It is important to inform your doctor about detoxing at home and continue to follow up with them.

Take Medications as Prescribed

You may already be on prescription medication and should continue taking them unless your doctor otherwise specifies it. To help manage withdrawal symptoms, you may also get prescribed medications while you detox.

The common medications used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms are benzodiazepines. These medications help prevent withdrawal symptoms and delirium tremens.7

Get Rid of Alcohol

Detoxing at home causes the potential for relapse due to the availability of alcohol. If you have alcohol stored in your home, remove it before detoxing. This may include alcohol-based items like rubbing alcohol, mouthwash, and vanilla extract. You will be less tempted to drink once the discomfort from the withdrawal starts to occur.

Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

Drinking water and fluids with electrolytes can help decrease withdrawal symptoms, especially headaches. A healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein can provide the proper nutrients to help your body quickly remove toxins.

Surround Yourself With Support

Have supportive people around to help you get through your alcohol detox. Support is essential to having a safe and successful detox at home. Also, make sure you have someone around in case of any severe detox symptoms that need medical attention.8

Avoid Contact with High-Risk People

While having support is important, limiting or ending contact with people you used to drink with or who may put you at risk for drinking again is crucial. Following these steps and monitoring any severe symptoms can help you detox safely at home.

Why Choose Horizon Treatment Services

At Horizon Treatment Services, we aim to help guide you on your path to recovery and living without substances. We provide various detox, residential, and treatment programs for all walks of life. Our highly trained staff creates a safe and supportive environment to help you through detox and your transition into a life of recovery.

Reach Out Today

The detox programs at Horizon Treatment Services allow you to detox from alcohol in a comfortable, safe, and supportive environment. To find out more about our programs, contact us at 510.582.2100 or email at