The Dangers of Detoxing at Home

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Those who engage in recurrent alcohol and drug use are vulnerable to a host of health complications, not only if they continue to engage in substance use but also if they abruptly cease their use. At some point or another, those struggling with chemical addictions will understand the necessity of detox to ensure a safe and healthy withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs. Unfortunately, some individuals will attempt this process at home. For this reason, it is imperative to discuss the dangers of detoxing at home in hopes that individuals will choose to utilize professional detox services instead. 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we know how crucial effective detoxification is for lasting sobriety and recovery. For this reason, we offer a medically assisted detoxification program to ensure the process is as safe and comfortable as possible for a client. Likewise, we strongly advise using professional detox services to avoid experiencing the complications and dangers of detoxing at home.

What Is Detoxification?

The detoxification (detox) process consists of ridding an individual's body of the remnants of alcohol and other drugs. This process is vital for those seeking recovery from chronic alcohol and drug use, as their brain structure and functioning have been compromised by their recurrent substance use. To ensure a clean physical and mental state when beginning addiction treatment, a person must first safely withdraw from alcohol and other drugs. 

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are one of the most significant dangers of detox, both in a professional treatment setting and especially at home. The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms an individual may experience after they cease alcohol and drug use depend on several factors, such as:

  • A person's unique chemical makeup
  • Type of substance(s) being used, highlighting polysubstance use 
  • The intensity of substance use
  • Duration of substance use
  • Frequency of substance use
  • The presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Physical health

According to the book Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

However, withdrawal symptoms are often more severe and can pose potentially life-threatening consequences. For cases of severe alcohol withdrawal, for example, an individual is vulnerable to experiencing health complications such as:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens
  • Extreme fluctuations in body temperature and blood pressure
  • Intense agitation

Other substances, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamines, pose their own unique risks for detox. Before participating in detox, knowing what withdrawal symptoms expect from the types of substances a person is seeking to recover from can be helpful.

Why Detoxing at Home Threatens Well-Being and Recovery

As mentioned, withdrawal symptoms alone can post life-threatening consequences for someone detoxing from alcohol and other drugs. When a person attempts to detox from dangerous substances at home, they may try to push through the pain of withdrawal symptoms, having little to no access to outside medical or psychological support. 

On the other hand, medically-assisted detoxification programs can provide the assistance clients need to safely and effectively wean off chronic substance use. Commonly, these programs temporarily prescribe medications to ease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and to ensure comfort for the client throughout the process. 

In addition to a lack of support, detoxing at home also neglects the value of peer and professional accountability in the beginning stages of recovery. Often, those who attempt detox at home end up relapsing both in an attempt to resolve the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and because they have no one holding them accountable for their sobriety. In this way, detoxing at home is not only threatening to their life but also to their continued recovery journey. 

Avoid Detoxing at Home: Utilize Detox at Pathways Recovery Center

At Pathways Recovery Center, our medically assisted detoxification program consists of three key steps:

  • Evaluation: Consists of a thorough assessment that determines the type and intensity of substances in the client's bloodstream. The assessment helps our team create an individualized detoxification plan based on the client's unique needs. 
  • Stabilization: Consists of the physical process of withdrawal. Our team of nurses and other medical professionals are available to administer medications to help ease any uncomfortable or unmanageable withdrawal symptoms. This phase typically lasts three to seven days.
  • Preparation: This consists of preparing the client to participate in a treatment program following detoxification. We often recommend that clients with severe substance addictions participate in a residential treatment program to prioritize sobriety while receiving psychological support through peers and professional guidance in long-term treatment. 

No matter what substance a client is attempting to detox from, our team of professionals will provide the medical assistance and psychological support that they need for the client to effectively cease their substance use. As always, it is vital to understand that detox is not treatment; detox is the first step in the pre-treatment process. Following detox at Pathways, we offer residential and outpatient treatment programs that can be customized to fit each client's unique needs. 

If you or a loved one is seeking recovery from chronic substance use, you must consider utilizing professional detoxification services. Detox is the process of ridding your body from the remnants of alcohol and other drugs. You may feel compelled to attempt detox at home; however, this can pose intense complications for your treatment and recovery journey. At Pathways Recovery Center, we offer a medically-assisted alcohol and drug detox program to limit any potential for health complications as you withdraw from substance use. Additionally, we can administer medication to ensure that the detox process is as safe and as comfortable as possible. To learn more about our services and programs, call us today at (888) 771-0966.

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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