A person who drinks two bottles of wine every day classifies as an alcoholic, defined as a person who can’t control his drinking. As many as 2 million Americans may undergo detoxification from alcohol abuse at home each year without medical supervision, Max Bayard, M.D., reports on the American Academy of Family Physicians website. Detoxing from alcohol can cause a number of unpleasant and physically dangerous symptoms that occur between six and 48 hours after the last drink of wine. Anyone wanting to detox from alcohol at home must be aware of the risks and potentially life-threatening side effects that can occur during detox.
Discuss undergoing detox with medical personnel. Medications that can reduce symptoms, such as Valium and Librium can be prescribed if necessary.
Plan to stay home during detox. No one can predict what symptoms might occur with any individual during detox. Plan to be off work and free of any social obligation for at least 5 days after starting detox, since delirium tremens can start as late as 4 days after the last drink.
Recruit someone to stay in the house 24/7. The symptoms of detox can start suddenly and unpredictably. The person undergoing the treatment may experience confusion or other symptoms that may render them helpless if more serious problems develop.
Study the symptoms ahead of time. Knowing what might happen helps prepare ahead of time for the possibilities. Headache, anxiety, tremor, nausea, vomiting, trouble concentrating and increased awareness and sensitivity to light and sound occur commonly, lead author and psychiatrist Hugh Myrick, M.D., reports on the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism website. Seizures affect 25 percent of people undergoing detox, usually within the first 24 hours after the last drink, he adds. Serious symptoms require hospitalization to complete treatment.
Recognize the possibility of experiencing delirium tremens. Around 5 percent of people going through withdrawal experience the DTs, usually 2 to 4 days after the last drink of wine, Dr. Myrick warns. If DTs occur, the person needs immediate hospitalization.
Create a long-term plan to stay free of alcohol. In some ways, going through detox is the easy part of stopping drinking. Staying sober for life involves support in the form of family, support groups, religious groups or other people who provide accountability and practical guidance. Mental health personnel can provide cognitive therapy and behavior modification to change behaviors over the long term.
Changes in sleep patterns, mood swings and fatigue may last for months after detox. While rare, a small number of people die during alcohol detox, especially if delirium tremens develops.