The Dangers of Detoxing at Home

in Detox
Published Jan 20, 2021
detoxing at home

When individuals decide to start their journey to recovery from substance use disorder (SUD), they must first stop using drugs or alcohol. This may result in uncomfortable, frightening, and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It may be tempting for an individual to detox at home as it may seem quick and inexpensive. However, it is not a safe approach. To detox effectively and safely, an individual must complete the process in the presence of medical professionals. This way, safety, and comfortability can be ensured.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal is a combination of physical and mental effects that a person experiences after they stop using drugs or alcohol or significantly reduce their intake of substances. What symptoms an individual experiences will vary depending on what substance they used.

Severity of Detoxing at Home

Specific substances may lead to more severe cases of physical dependence. These substances include benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opiates. While all substance withdrawal should be monitored in the presence of medical professionals, these specific substances can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms may also depend on how much of a substance was used, how long the individual has been using the substance, and their overall health. For example, the more of a substance an individual uses, the more severe their withdrawal symptoms may be. The severity of an individual’s SUD can determine how severe their withdrawal symptoms are. There are 11 criteria used to diagnose SUD, and the number of criteria an individual meets determines the severity of their disorder. Two or three criteria indicate mild SUD, four or five criteria indicate a moderate SUD, and six or more criteria indicate a severe SUD.

Is Detoxing at Home Fatal?

Detoxing at home can be fatal. When an individual uses substances for an extended amount of time, the body has likely developed a dependence on the substance. When drug or alcohol use is ceased, withdrawal symptoms will set in, and some of the body’s systems may not function properly as a result. It is essential to go through the detox process with a medical professional to ease uncomfortable symptoms and reduce the risk of fatal symptoms.

The Risks of Seizures

Substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines may cause seizures during the withdrawal process. Seizures can be a severe issue. They can cause problems such as injuries, brain damage, and even death. A seizure’s effects depend on the type of seizure, how long it lasts, and where the individual is when it happens. Some common injuries can include bruises, cuts, and burns. Other more severe problems can also occur, such as broken bones, concussions, head injuries that cause bleeding to the brain, or breathing problems. It is imperative that the detox process is completed in a medical setting to ensure that a doctor is present if a seizure does occur.

Dangers of Delirium Tremens (DTs) while Detoxing at Home

Delirium Tremens (DTs) can occur in individuals detoxing from alcohol with severe SUD. According to the US National Library of Medicine, DTs involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes. DTs includes:

  • Sudden, severe confusion (delirium)
  • Tremors all over the body
  • Changes in cognition and mental function
  • Extreme agitation and mood swings
  • Fear or paranoia
  • Appearing conscious with no response
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizure


Risk factors for developing DTs include:

  • History of DTs
  • Concurrent illnesses
  • Older age
  • Prior withdrawal symptoms or detox from alcohol


Seizures, hallucinations, and paranoia are incredibly dangerous and require immediate medical attention. Complications associated with DTs may include over-sedation, coma, respiratory depression, cardiac arrhythmias, and pneumonia due to aspiration. However, with the help of IV Therapy and other necessary medications, this condition is preventable and manageable if it does occur. Attempting to detox at home when DTs occurs can have fatal consequences.

Other Withdrawal Symptoms

Some withdrawal symptoms, such as diarrhea or nausea, may not seem a cause for concern. However, these symptoms can become dangerous depending on their severity, especially when an individual does not have medical oversight. Diarrhea and nausea can lead to dehydration, which can be life-threatening if untreated. Dehydration can also lead to other complications, such as urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and hypovolemic shock.

The Importance of Medical Detox

Medical detox is a safe and effective method for overcoming physical dependence on a substance. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and frightening. With medical detox, this process is made more safe and comfortable for the individual. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we implement The Gallus Method, which includes 24/7 medical staffing, cardiac and video monitoring, IV therapy, and more to ease the most intense and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

If substance use is stopped at home, the individual is at a higher risk for relapse. Without the support of medical staff, they may return to substance use when withdrawal symptoms become too uncomfortable. With at-home detox, an individual can also get medical help immediately if complications do arise.

While it may seem a cheap and easy approach, detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home can be incredibly dangerous. When an individual stops using substances, they will experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms. The severity of their symptoms will depend on how severe their substance use disorder (SUD) is, the specific substance used, how much of a substance was used, and the individual’s overall health. Substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines can cause life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures and Delirium Tremens (DTs). Other symptoms of withdrawal may not seem as severe but can be a cause for medical concern. An individual needs to seek professional help from healthcare providers when deciding to stop using substances. This way, their safety and comfortability are of top priority. At Gallus Medical Detox Centers, we use proprietary, evidence-based medical protocols that prioritize our patients’ comfort and safety to guide them through the detox process. Our personalized treatment is delivered in a safe and peaceful environment. To learn more about the process of detox, call Gallus Medical Detox Centers at (866) 296-5242.