When it comes to detoxing, there are two main options: doing it at home or in a supervised setting. Both have their pros and cons, but they outweigh the benefits when it comes to the dangers of at-home detox. Let’s discuss the risks of detoxing at home and withdrawal symptoms.
WHAT IS DETOX?
Detoxification, commonly referred to as detox, refers to the process that clears drugs or alcohol from the body. Its purpose is to manage withdrawal symptoms safely when a person stops using a substance. Every person’s experience is different, and detox will vary depending on the type of drug and length of use. It is a necessary but difficult first step to recovery.
If you or a loved one is trying to stop using, detox can help, and medical treatment can ease symptoms. Quitting substance use without professional supervision can be extremely dangerous due to severe symptoms associated with withdrawal. Detox programs can keep you safe by preventing life-threatening complications.
To be most effective (especially those living with severe addiction), detox should be inpatient, meaning you stay at the facility where you’re receiving treatment. Inpatient detox includes around-the-clock staffing and monitoring. Outpatient options are also available. Talking with a professional can help you assess what option best suits you.
Common withdrawal symptoms are nausea, vomiting, delirium tremens, seizures, and cardiovascular issues. According to the American Psychological Association’sAssociation’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as many as 30% of people detoxing without supervised treatment experience a grand mal seizure. Symptoms can also be related to mental health, causing anxiety, anger, irritability, suicidal ideation, depression, hopelessness, paranoia, and hallucinations.
The type of substance a person stops using will vary the type of symptoms they experience. Some substances associated with potentially severe withdrawal symptoms are heroin, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, alcohol, cocaine, prescription stimulants, and other opioids like hydrocodone, codeine, oxycodone, or morphine.
RISKS OF AT-HOME DETOX
The detox process is nuanced and delivers several needs that medical professionals best address. Support and supervision throughout the withdrawal and detox process are essential to preventing or managing intense symptoms.
- Relapse: The most significant risk of at-home detox is its failure to work. Few people can go through detox without professional help. Addiction is a disease; willpower is often not enough to overcome your addiction. Not working through your addiction can lead to ongoing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse.
- Overdose: Relapse may also lead to an overdose. If you stop using, your body can reset how much of a substance it can tolerate. This change in tolerance could mean you won’t be able to take the same amount of a drug as when you were using it regularly. You may not know this tolerance reset occurred, so when you take the same amount as you did before, it could lead to an overdose.
- Physical Challenges: Many challenges can arise during detoxification, including changes in heart rhythm, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and slowed breathing. In a medical detox program, trained staff members can monitor these symptoms and support you in conquering your physical cravings and emotional obstacles.
- Mental Health Challenges: Detoxing from alcohol or drugs is a long, grueling process during which your mind and body will go through many changes. If you try to quit on your own, you could face dangerous drug cravings and severe mental health symptoms.
Detoxing from drugs and alcohol is a serious, complex process. If done improperly, it can lead to relapse and become potentially fatal. The best option is to seek out addiction professionals to guide you through the process. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, contact me today to discuss options to get you feeling like you again.