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The absolute worst outcome from improperly detoxing is that you can die.

In order to be safe, detox must be medically monitored by professionals trained to assist in the event of an emergency, as well as to ensure comfort and ease symptoms during withdrawal.

What Are The Dangers of Alcohol At-Home Detox?

An at-home detox from alcohol is never recommended, as these drugs can cause serious health complications during withdrawal, such as:

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Digestive discomfort

  • Headaches

  • Heart palpitations

  • Hallucinations

  • Panic attacks

  • Tremors

  • Muscle pain

  • Psychosis

  • Seizures

  • Delirium tremens

  • Relapse

  • Increased risk of severe symptoms with the next withdrawal attempt

At-Home Detox and Relapse Rates

The incomplete nature of at-home detox creates another danger for the individual trying to recover from alcohol  addiction: the risk of relapse.

Another risk is the “kindling phenomenon,” which posits that repeated relapses tend to result in more severe withdrawal symptoms with each subsequent detox.

A study from Addiction noted that the majority of people who received professional detox or substance abuse treatment were more likely to remain abstinent over time, while those who attempted to stop using or drinking on their own were more likely to relapse.

As the numbers from the study demonstrate, the difference between people who got help and those who tried to recover on their own was significant.

After three years:

    62.4% of those who received help were in remission.

    43.4% of those who didn’t receive help were in remission.

After 16 years:

    60.5% of no-help individuals who were sober at the 3-year mark had relapsed.

    42.9% of treated individuals who were sober at the 3-year mark had relapsed.

This risk can be greatly reduced through a professional treatment program, because these programs don’t focus on detox alone. Therapy, continued support, and coping strategies are provided after the detox process is over, giving the individual tools and methods to help them continue their recovery after they leave the program and return home.

At Scottsdale Detox, we help you determine your next steps after detox so that you can have a successful long-term recovery.

Why Is Alcohol Withdrawal So Dangerous?

1.  An alcoholic relies on alcohol both physically and mentally in order to function. This is a compulsion that becomes an alcoholic’s basic need for survival.

2.  Alcohol is physically addicting, so that when your body doesn’t have what it’s used to, you get sick – and this can kill you.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain and Body?

Alcohol has a sedative effect on the body, which means it blocks certain brain chemicals which cause a slowing of the brain's functions.

Over time, continued and/or heavy use of these substances can cause deep chemical changes in the brain that make an individual unable to function properly without the substance. This results in dependence on the substance, which is an indication of addiction.

One might think that the best way to stop the addiction/dependence is to simply stop using the substance, however the changes in the brain caused by these chemicals result in a real, physical need for the substance, and the body will react to the loss of the chemicals by producing withdrawal symptoms.

When a person who has developed addiction to alcohol attempts to stop all use abruptly, or “cold-turkey,”the withdrawal symptoms follow with somewhat predictable timing. These symptoms have a range of effects on the individual’s physical and mental health, depending on the length of use and severity of addiction involved. In fact, because of the effects of these withdrawal processes, doctors often refer to them as “syndromes.”

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can result in the following physical and psychological symptoms:

  • Insomnia

  • Tremors

  • Anxiety

  • Digestive discomfort

  • Loss of appetite

  • Headache

  • Excessive perspiration

  • Heart palpitations

  • Hallucinations

  • Seizures

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

According to a research review in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal


How long does alcohol withdrawal take to start?

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What Happens During A Medically Assisted Detox?

During a medically assisted detox, you will be given special medications that slow down the speed in which chemicals in your brain return to pre-addiction levels.

Usually, this is achieved through the use of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are a class of drug, and they affect the brain akin to how alcohol affects the brain. Your dosage of benzodiazepines will be slowly reduced over the course of your detox. Benzodiazepines do themselves pose a risk of addiction, and for this reason, you will be given a slow-acting benzodiazepine with low abuse potential.

During your detox, you will be closely monitored by our team of health professionals.

Before your detox begins, you will be thoroughly examined from both a physical and psychological standpoint. Any pre-existing medical conditions will also influence the manner in which your detox treatment will proceed.

Our expert clinical team will monitor your detox closely and increase your dosage of medication if you begin to experience any breakthrough withdrawal symptoms. We also offer IV Therapy and additional treatments to lessen our patient's symptoms and to ensure a safe and comfortable detox.

Sources: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism



Struggling with addiction is hard enough, and trying to do it alone is practically impossible. Misuse of drugs or alcohol hides the underlying causes of your addiction and these will continue to disrupt your life until they are uncovered and addressed.

If you are reading this right now and need to change things in your life, please call us now. We understand how you feel and the struggle to pick up the phone. Our staff recognizes that people who try to quit by themselves oftentimes get frustrated and feel helpless when they can’t. You can, and we can help.


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