Detoxification, or detox, is one of the most critical steps in the addiction treatment process. It’s important to note, however, that detox does not encompass the entire treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction is a disease that causes psychological as well as physical damage, and while detox handles the physical side of healing, patients still need psychotherapeutic treatment to address the internal issues brought about by substance abuse. The fact that detox is only one step in a multi-step journey is a large part of why detoxing at home without outside help is ill-advised by healthcare professionals everywhere.
Detoxing at Home
After deciding to quit using drugs or alcohol, you might be wondering if it’s possible to detox at home. Given a choice between attending rehab and getting sober at home, most people would consider detoxing at home just because it’s a familiar, comfortable space. Home detox may seem like a private option that limits the public acknowledgement of your dependency. While self-detox is possible, there are several reasons why it is, in reality, a terrible idea.
Self-Detox Is Not Safe
The first reason not to self-detox is also the strongest. Purging the last remnants of drugs or alcohol from your system is a tedious process that requires expert care. Doing it without some form of medical supervision will not only be agonizingly uncomfortable, but it could also prove to be very dangerous.
The symptoms and length of withdrawal during the detox process vary depending on a number of factors. Still, specific withdrawal symptoms appear more often than others, especially during self-detox. Some examples include:
- Tremors lasting anywhere between days to weeks during alcohol self-detox
- Flu-like symptoms lasting days during heroin or prescription opioid detox
- Anxiety lasting months during benzodiazepines self-detox
- Depression lasting weeks during cocaine self-detox
- Restlessness and insomnia lasting weeks during cocaine self-detox
- Seizures lasting months during benzodiazepines or alcohol self-detox
Many substance abusers have turned to shady online resources, offering second hand concoctions for a comfortable ‘taper method’. As stated, each person’s dependency and body’s reaction to withdrawal is different. You deserve more security than an online recipe to ensure you are safely detoxed. Without medical supervision, the severity of these withdrawal symptoms can lead to serious injury, permanent impairment, or even death.
Self-Detox Offers No Insight into Your Substance Dependence
Addiction is the result of chemical changes in the brain. These changes are caused by substance abuse, which essentially tricks your system into depending on drugs or alcohol to function normally. This is called substance dependence.
Understanding what substance dependence is and how it formed is an integral part of the detox process. It helps you better understand the changes your body has gone through during active addiction and what needs to be done to “reset” it. Addiction is a disease, without a formal understanding of the disease that you have, it is more likely to cause you issues in the future. It can take several times of relapse for most addicts to accept substance abuse needs to be treated this way, but if a rehab experience is utilized, the information needed may be provided to the user.
Self-Detox Is Usually Ineffective
It is possible to detox at home, but the chances of doing it successfully are incredibly slim and not long lasting. Detoxing at home means you won’t have access to the tools necessary to make it successful. Typically, people who detox at home usually stop their substance use abruptly and all at once— the infamous cold-turkey method. Other methods may include a drug ‘cleanse’ or make-shift taper remedies being passed around the internet. Most of this kind of detox is short-term and very ineffective. Generally speaking, those who self-detox instead of receiving professional treatment tend to have higher rates of relapse. A study into predictors of relapse of alcohol use disorders found that alcohol abusers who did not obtain help were less likely to reach the benchmark of 3-years of sobriety compared to those who utilized preventative interventions. This is because they didn’t adequately address their cravings during detox and, as a result, fell back into addictive habits to make the withdrawal symptoms stop.
The Drawbacks of Self-Detox and the Benefits of Inpatient Detox
All in all, detoxing at home can put your recovery, and your health, in jeopardy. Addiction is a complicated disease with a wide variety of unpredictable withdrawal symptoms and long-term medical consequences. With this said, treating addiction without proper medical assistance at a rehab facility will likely yield poor results, for your immediate physical detox as well as your psychological preparedness for handling relapse triggers in the future.
On the other hand, medically supervised drug and alcohol detox at a specialized inpatient treatment facility allows a team of healthcare professionals to anticipate and address any problems that might arise during the process. Trained doctors and nurses are always present during inpatient detox.
What You Can Expect at Inpatient Detox
While drug or alcohol detox can be performed on an outpatient basis, inpatient detox is usually advised for people who experience more severe or potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Almost all inpatient treatment facilities specialize in medically-assisted detox. With inpatient treatment, patients can comfortably wean off the substances that drive their addictions.
The detox process is different for every patient in recovery, and it can vary in length and intensity depending on a number of factors, like:
- How much of a substance the patient used
- How often the patient abused substances
- What kind of substances were abused
- How long the active addiction lasted
Typically, severe substance abuse is treated with a medically-assisted detox that can last anywhere between 3 days to a week. The team of doctors and nurses may prescribe specific medications to ease the detox process depending on the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This is called tapering, and is a widely-used method of drug and alcohol detox. Tapering with no-risk medications allows patients to purge their systems of toxins naturally, with few cravings and little to no discomfort.
The Benefits of Inpatient Addiction Treatment Programs
Most detox programs are structured as ‘inpatient’— and with good reason. By doing inpatient detox, patients have access to medical professionals in the event of an emergency, stand a better chance of avoiding relapse, and will be more comfortable overall. Additionally, most inpatient detox programs transition seamlessly into continued substance abuse treatment. They can helps patients address and come to terms with areas of addiction that detox can’t treat, such as psychological issues, emotional distress, or even trauma. This makes inpatient treatment one of the most successful types of treatment for longterm successes.
Preparing for Inpatient Detox and Addiction Treatment
There are several steps that patients in recovery should take to get ready for inpatient addiction treatment. The first step is to set an entry date. With a sort of deadline in mind, you can use the time you’ve allotted yourself to get your affairs in order before you enter rehab. Other steps include:
- Arranging time off for recovery with your employer
- Reaching out to friends and family to keep them informed
- Coordinating with counselors to see what kinds of personal items you’re allowed to bring
- Taking care of any financial responsibilities or loose ends ahead of time
- Making living arrangements for your children or other dependent family members
TTC Residential Addiction Care is Here to Help
Going to a residential rehab facility is one the safest and most effective ways to treat addiction. With help from a team of healthcare professionals, you’ll be able to get sober in a safe, supportive environment— all while avoiding the dangerous withdrawal symptoms you would have faced during self-detox. At TTC Residential Addiction Care, our staff provides around-the-clock care and gives only the best medical support to all our patients. We can help you recover from the physical side of addiction and prepare you for the psychological and emotional treatments once detox is complete. For more information about our inpatient detox program, please call us at (844)310-9546.