Detoxification, also known as detox, is a process that involves removing toxins from your system. This includes addictive substances like drugs and alcohol.
At-home detox is one option for getting off a drug, but this is not generally safe for someone who has a drug or alcohol use disorder, also known as addiction.
Substance use disorders are often accompanied by physical drug dependence, which can cause mild to severe withdrawal if you try to quit drugs or alcohol all at once.
Why You Should Avoid Detoxing From Home
When it comes to detox, it’s important to know the risks, dangers, and safety tips for when or if you do need to complete detox outside of a medical facility.
Here are five reasons why detoxing from drugs and alcohol at home is not recommended for people with a history of drug or alcohol abuse:
1. Severe Withdrawal
Drug withdrawal can often cause physical, mental, and psychological symptoms. And in some cases, depending on the type of drug, these side effects can be severe.
Withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax) for instance, can cause severe medical distress if you’ve developed dependence from chronic drug use.
Severe symptoms from the withdrawal process can include:
- mental confusion
- high fever
- hallucinations (visual, auditory, tactile)
- racing heart
- heart palpitations
- changes in blood pressure
Severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can occur within 48 hours of your last drink, and cannot typically be managed within a home environment.
This form of severe withdrawal, known as delirium tremens, requires treatment within a supervised medical setting, because it can become life-threatening.
2. Exposure To Triggers
Another key reason for someone with substance use issues to not detox from home is that this doesn’t remove them from their drug of abuse.
At home, you have greater access to your drug of choice, whereas in a treatment center, you’re physically removed from that opportunity.
Other potential triggers, such as unsupportive family members, drug paraphernalia, and other home-life stressors can also make it more difficult to detox outside of a supervised facility.
3. Risk Of Relapse
Relapse is a primary concern for people who are attempting to get off a drug of abuse.
Risk factors for relapse at home include:
- access to drugs or alcohol
- cold-turkey detox
- detoxing alone
- drug cravings
- lack of sufficient support
- no plan for aftercare or follow-up treatment
Without medical supervision and support, those who are attempting detox can be more likely to relapse and return to a harmful cycle of substance use.
4. No Access To Medical Treatment
Medical detox programs are ideal for detoxing from addictive substances at least in part because they can offer medical treatment for severe withdrawal symptoms.
Medical treatment might include:
- medicine for seizures
- anti-nausea medicine
- IV fluid support
- medication for opioid withdrawal
- monitoring of vital signs (e.g. blood pressure, temperature, heart rate)
For severe symptoms, over-the-counter medicine and at-home remedies are not enough.
At best, they may be able to relieve mild discomfort, but will not be capable of effectively treating seizures, severe mental health symptoms, or other signs of acute medical distress.
5. Overdose Risk After Detox
Studies show that people with a substance use disorder can be at a heightened risk for fatal drug overdose after completing the detox process.
That’s because detox reduces your tolerance for the drug of abuse. Returning to the drug and taking the same dose as before could quickly lead to overdose.
Signs of a drug overdose may include:
- slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
- erratic or very slow heart rate
- high or low blood pressure
- pale, ashen, or bluish skin
- chest pain
- nausea and vomiting
- limp body
Without medical personnel on standby, or quick emergency treatment, this accidental overdose on drugs after detox could have deadly consequences.
Safety Tips For Home Detox
If you have abused drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time (weeks, months, or years), detoxing at home is strongly discouraged.
If you or a loved one with mild drug dependence are left with no other option, there are steps you can take to increase safety while detoxing from home.
Safety tips for at-home detox include:
- Consult a medical professional about your treatment options.
- Check in with a friend or family member every few hours.
- Develop a plan for getting emergency assistance as needed.
- Drink plenty of water and eat regularly.
Anyone who is planning to detox from home should be aware of signs of danger during detox.
If someone who is detoxing begins having seizures, confusion, loss of touch with reality, racing heart, or high fever— call 911 for emergency medical assistance right away.
What Is The Best Way To Detox?
The best way to quit a drug of abuse, such as opiates, alcohol, or prescription sedatives, is to find an inpatient detox program for medically supervised detox.
Medical detox programs can offer:
- 24-hour supervision and support
- treatment for withdrawal symptoms
- a clean and secure setting to detox
- care coordination for further treatment
Detox programs typically last three to seven days on average, or longer if you are detoxing from a long-acting drug like methadone.
For people with mild drug dependence, or those who don’t have a substance use disorder, outpatient detox options may be suitable for the detoxification process.
Where To Find Drug And Alcohol Detox
Detoxing from home can be dangerous for people with a drug or alcohol use disorder. That’s why finding an inpatient medical detox program is recommended.
Alcohol and drug detox services are offered by some inpatient addiction treatment centers, drug detox facilities, and some outpatient healthcare providers.
Finding Treatment For Addiction After Detox
If you or a loved one has a drug addiction, finding a detox program that coordinates with an addiction treatment center may be ideal.
While detox is the first step of the recovery process, it’s not a complete treatment for addiction by itself.
Overcoming addiction can take time, and often requires additional treatment, such as behavioral therapy, a medication-assisted treatment program, or an inpatient rehab program.
Call Today To Find Drug Detox
At DetoxRehabs.net, we understand how important it is to find the best, quality care for people seeking to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction.
If you’re looking for detox options for yourself or a loved one, don’t wait. Call our helpline today to find a high quality drug detox program at a treatment center near you.Article Sources
- Mass.gov — Opioid Overdose Risk Factors
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Principles of Effective Treatment
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Alcohol withdrawal