Is Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment at Home a Good Idea?

Introduction

Alcohol withdrawal treatment, also known as detox, varies in cost depending upon the type of treatment that is chosen. Partial hospitalization, in which the victim of alcohol addiction lives at home but attends daily treatment at an inpatient care location of some kind, may cost about $400 per day and lasts for a few weeks. Living in a Sober Living home generally costs about $2,000 per month, but little or no treatment is provided on location. Inpatient treatment costs about $500 a day for several days. For those with health insurance, some or all of the costs should be covered. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act (2008) and the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) both require insurance companies to cover treatment for mental health issues, including addiction. Nonetheless, many people are drawn to the possibility of alcohol detox at home because the costs can be minimal. Other reasons for choosing to detox at home include the comfort and security of being at home, the notion that all that is needed is just to quit and the ability to keep the situation private. 

Those who detox at home either quit “cold turkey” as they say or taper off their use until they are ready to quit entirely. Since one of the common characteristics of alcohol addiction is an inability to manage the use of alcohol, tapering off is very difficult to sustain and the user may require the support and supervision of a close friend or family member. Quitting cold turkey brings the risk of serious health issues given the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Self-Detox at Home

Those who choose to detox at home are taking a path that seldom results in success. Still, for those who choose to try to detox at home, some things should be kept in mind3.

  1. All alcohol must be removed from the home.
  2. Plan to take time away from work and other obligations so that you are able to focus on recovery.
  3. Make sure at least one supportive person is available in the home.
  4. Drink plenty of water.
  5. Choose a well-balanced diet including lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.
  6. Taking B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and even garlic can be beneficial to detox and recovery.

The Risks of Detoxing at Home

The chief risk of choosing to detox at home is that the symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol can be serious and even life-threatening. Friends and family members will most likely not have the skills to provide proper support and monitoring for dangerous health issues. Further, family members and friends cannot provide the needed therapy and treatment to support long-term sobriety. BMC Psychiatry published the results of a study regarding various techniques of withdrawal from alcohol abuse. Those who detoxed at home found that the symptoms of withdrawal lasted longer than expected and were hard to manage. Most admitted that they relapsed. They also revealed that inpatient treatment was both more comfortable and safer. Long-term treatment resulted in more success than short-term treatment.

Summary

The high cost of inpatient detox, along with other reasons, leads many victims of alcohol addiction to try to detox at home. This is despite the fact that federal law expects health insurance companies to provide inpatient treatment. The decision to detox at home is both risky and likely to end in failure.

For those who want to know more, the website at SAMHSA.gov is a great place to start.