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Can Alcoholics Recover Without Going to Rehab?

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Like any other type of substance abuse, alcoholism is a disease that no one chooses to live with. Many of the symptoms of alcoholism, including cravings, physical dependence, and tolerance, can make it nearly impossible for people to stop drinking–even when they desperately want to.

Long periods of heavy drinking can change the way your brain functions. Drinking and the activities surrounding alcohol consumption can cause a flood of dopamine in your brain. This neurotransmitter is linked to pleasure and reward, giving it a significant role in addiction. For most, alcoholism is nearly impossible to leave behind without help.

But can people with alcoholism get sober without detox and alcohol rehab? We’ll explore this question and give you the information you need to make an informed decision about your care. Contact the caring specialists at Charlotte North Carolina Detox today for more information about your treatment options.

What Can Happen When An Alcoholic Tries to Stop Drinking Without Rehab

People who drink heavily and frequently are likely to develop tolerance, meaning they need to drink more to get the same effects. Tolerance is one of the primary signs of alcoholism and shows that the brain has adapted to the presence of alcohol. Tolerance often builds and can result in a person drinking much more than is recommended or safe.

When someone who drinks heavily suddenly stops, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down signals between the brain’s neurotransmitters. To counteract the effects of alcohol, a person’s brain may increase activity in certain regions–and remain in a heightened state as long as the person continues to drink.

When there is suddenly an absence of alcohol, the brain keeps up its increased rate of activity, which is experienced in physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Racing heart
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea

In some rare cases, people may develop life-threatening withdrawal symptoms like seizures, dehydration, and elevated body temperature. While some factors may increase a person’s risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, anyone can experience severe complications–even without known risk factors.

Can Alcoholics Get Sober Without Alcohol Rehab?

Many people with alcohol use disorder want a quick fix for these conditions so that they can move forward in their lives as soon as possible. Some online resources offer guidance on how to stop drinking on your own, but they are often from dubious sources. So, can alcoholics get sober without rehab?

The short answer is: maybe, but probably not. While it may be possible for you to stop drinking on your own, lifelong addiction recovery requires time, treatment, and lots of support. Alcohol rehab programs offer valuable support from caring professionals and a community of peers, ongoing help, connection to resources, and accountability. These features are impossible to create at home–and they’re what’s necessary to support lifelong recovery.

Benefits of getting sober at an alcohol rehab vs at home include:

  • Access to evidence-based therapies that treat the root causes of your drinking
  • Clinical and peer support
  • Get connected to resources that will help you stay sober
  • Receive medications that can ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce your cravings
  • Reduced risk for relapse

What are the Risks if You Stop Drinking On Your Own?

If you try to stop drinking on your own, you may face significant challenges and setbacks. Alcoholism is a disease caused by changes to the way your brain and body work–and trying to get sober without alcohol rehab is a nearly impossible task.

But you may also risk your health and safety if you attempt to stop drinking on your own. Here are some risks if you try to stop drinking on your own.

Withdrawal complications

Most people with alcoholism experience some very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking. But some can develop life-threatening medical events, such as severe dehydration, seizures, delusions, confusion, hallucinations, or dangerously high body temperature. An alcohol detox and rehab center can prescribe medications, monitor your symptoms, and ensure your safety.


Many people find alcohol withdrawal so uncomfortable that they relapse before their body can detox fully. Cravings, sweating, nausea, headaches, tremors, insomnia, and more can make it very challenging for people to stay sober.

Even after detox, the risk of alcohol relapse is high. Alcoholism doesn’t develop overnight, and it takes time to unlearn the habits that you have developed as well as learn new ones.

Medically-Supported Detox vs. Trying to Stop Drinking on Your Own

Having the support of a medically supported detox program can be the difference between staying sober for life and continuing to struggle with alcoholism.

A medically supported detox program provides the treatment and support you need to help you get through withdrawal as safely and comfortably as possible. During detox, medical and support staff will assess and treat your withdrawal symptoms with effective therapies, including:

  • Medications to reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal
  • Emotional support, including individual therapy, when appropriate
  • Distance from your triggers
  • Holistic treatments like nutrition support, massage, and exercise

Going through a supervised detox program gives you the tools and support you need to achieve a safe, complete detox.

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Now

If you or someone you love needs alcoholism treatment or you want to explore your alcohol detox and treatment options, reach out to the caring specialists at Charlotte North Carolina Detox today.