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Alcohol Detox

Home Alcohol Detox

Written By Brian Davis
Reviewed By Tiffany Green
Medically Reviewed By Dr David Barker
Updated December 13, 2023

Many many people, including this author, have or will, at some point in their lives decide to maybe take a bit of a break from the drink. If you haven’t already, maybe when you were at university or going through a tough breakup, the odds are good that you’ll probably spend a few days, weeks, or even months overconsuming alcohol before coming to your senses and realising that you need to apply the brakes. While this period of looking too deep into the bottle certainly isn’t healthy in any way, it’s definitely not unusual or unheard of.

For most of us, detoxing from alcohol, even if only for a while, isn’t all that hard. Sure, you might feel a bit down or crave a drink after a day or two, but overall, it’s perfectly manageable. However, when this realisation comes too late or doesn’t come until a severe addiction has developed, alcohol detox becomes an entirely different beast.

Severe alcohol misuse and dependence are difficult to come back from. While most of us associate severe withdrawal symptoms with narcotics such as opioids and amphetamines, alcohol withdrawal should be viewed in the same light and is every bit as scary and dangerous. According to a StatPearls article hosted in the National Library of Medicine, “Patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal may have numerous potentially life-threatening medical problems.” (Gupta et al.)

This guide will aim to walk you through some of the steps that you can take to safely, effectively, and with minimum discomfort, go through a home alcohol detox.

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Important note: If you or a loved one has an alcohol dependency that has already caused organ damage or severely deteriorated health, please seek medical advice before following the advice in this home alcohol detox guide. Medically supervised detox in an inpatient setting is significantly safer and is always recommended in these situations.

When to detox from alcohol

First of all, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption (Lancet). Alcohol has a detrimental effect on our bodies from the first sip and is associated with numerous disorders and morbidities. That glass of red you enjoy “for your heart” or the pint(s) you knock back with the game increases your risk of developing cancer, depression, and liver disease (among others) from the first sip. That being said, most people know this and are willing to accept the risks.

If, however, you experience any of the symptoms below, all strongly linked to alcohol dependence and misuse, you should seriously reconsider your stance on alcohol. Continued consumption only makes giving up alcohol harder while at the same time causing potentially irreparable damage to your organs and mental health.

Guide to successfully detoxing from alcohol at home

Once the decision has been made to detox and to do so at home, there are a number of steps that you can take that will make the process significantly easier, safer, and more likely to be successful in the long run. For the sake of this article, we will consider a patient who has an ongoing alcohol dependency but has made the decision to quit drinking for good before severe or irreparable organ damage has occurred. 

  1. Consult a physician – We cannot overstate how important this step is. Alcohol detox is associated with many painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, and depending on your unique condition, a physician might recommend certain medications or even medical supervision for the detox period. Going cold turkey could, in certain cases, be fatal. Consult a doctor or addiction specialist who can assess the risks before you start. 
  2. Understand the risks – Go into detox with the understanding that you might experience symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). Create a plan for dealing with these complications should they arise, such as having a physician on call or having someone on hand who can take you to the hospital.
  3. Secure a support system – You will most likely feel incredibly poorly over the coming days, both mentally and physically. Having friends or family around who can support you emotionally and in practical ways allows you to focus on your recovery. 
  4. Prepare your environment:
    • Remove all alcohol from your home. This is non-negotiable, and failing this step all but guarantees an unsuccessful home alcohol detox.
    • Stock up on nutritious foods rich in vitamins and minerals. If you’re detoxing alone, easy-to-prepare meals are a good idea, but ensure that they are nutritious and healthy. Unhealthy or nutritionally lacking foods will worsen cravings.
    • Ensure that you have a calm, comfortable, and quiet place to rest. If possible, prepare extra clean bedding (you’re likely to sweat a lot) and a place where you can be outside but away from temptation. A balcony or private yard fits the bill nicely.
  5. Stay hydrated – Water helps accelerate the flushing of alcohol metabolites from the body and will replace the moisture lost due to sweating. Soft drinks, soda, and energy drinks are not a replacement for water! Dissolvable electrolytes could be beneficial, but don’t overdo it or you risk developing diarrhoea or stomach pain.
  6. Prepare nutritional supplements and over-the-counter medications – Many detox patients report that vitamin and mineral complexes, especially ones containing B-vitamins, magnesium, and thiamine, can help during detox. Non-prescription sleep aids and analgesics (painkillers) could help alleviate insomnia and low-level pain. Make sure to consult with a healthcare professional before taking these medications to avoid harmful interactions. 
  7. Stay active – Low-exertion exercises like walking or yoga help to reduce anxiety and restlessness and can help improve your mood. 
  8. Avoid triggers – Steer well clear of people or situations that might tempt you to drink. If you’re going for a walk, don’t walk past your favourite bar. If invited out with your drinking buddies, remember that your recovery is your priority and explain the situation to them. Real friends will support you. 
  9. Stay connected with others – Feelings of isolation and loneliness quickly turn into excuses to start drinking again. Staying in regular contact with a support group, even if only through online meetings, can help you remain motivated to recover. A quick Google search will help you find in-person and online support groups all around the UK.
  10. Seek medical help when needed – As stated earlier, alcohol detox can be fatal. If you experience hallucinations, seizures, uncontrollable vomiting, or delirium tremens (DTs), DO NOT try to ride it out. Seek professional medical assistance immediately.
  11. Plan for post-detox – Alcohol detox typically lasts for anywhere between 3 days and 2 weeks, depending on a variety of factors. During this period, the body will expel toxic ethanol metabolites in an attempt to reach homeostasis (normal body function). While this is the most difficult and painful step in recovering from alcohol misuse, it’s not the last. Detoxing and immediately returning to the bottle will have very few positive effects (if any), and the only real desirable post-detox outcome is a permanent change in habits and lifestyle. 

Planning for a new life after a home alcohol detox with steps such as continued support or group therapy and developing new and healthy habits can give you the motivation and desire to live a happy, meaningful, and content life without resorting to alcohol just to get by.

Alcohol rehab at Gladstones Clinic

With alcohol being the single most consumed mind-altering substance on this planet and being linked to just over 5% of all annual deaths worldwide (WHO), it should come as no surprise that Gladstones Clinic has seen our fair share of alcohol-dependent patients over the last 20 years, and our wealth of experience and knowledge makes us the perfect partner in alcohol recovery. Whether in our residential settings or as a support partner in home alcohol detox and recovery, our skilled and experienced addiction specialists make use of modern, evidence-based techniques and therapies to provide our patients with the best possible care for a full and long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, please feel free to contact us at 0808 258 2350 or through our portal. We will gladly help you make sense of the treatment options for alcohol misuse, answer any of your questions, or help you plan and execute an alcohol intervention to get your loved one the help they need. 

With unparalleled aftercare services, proven non-12-step inpatient alcohol addiction rehab programmes, support for teenage addiction, and compassionate family support and wellness programmes, Gladstones Clinic continues to be a leader in helping UK families and individuals rebuild their lives from drug and alcohol addiction. 

Get professional help in dealing with alcohol addiction

With personalised care and treatment, comfortable and relaxing facilities, and a 20-year track record of successfully treating our patients’ alcohol addiction and other substance addictions, Gladstones Clinic is the ideal partner to start your journey to recovery. 

Works cited

Alcohol.” World Health Organization (WHO), WHO, 9 May 2022, Accessed 29 September 2023.

Gupta, M., et al. “Withdrawal Syndromes.” StatPearls, 2023. National Library of Medicine, Accessed 02 10 2023.

Lancet. “Alcohol and health: all, none, or somewhere in-between?The Lancet Rheumatology, The Lancet Rheumatology, 2023, Accessed 02 10 2023.

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