Detoxing at home is possible, but is generally not recommended for a variety of reasons. First, its success or failure is highly dependent on one’s level of substance abuse and environment. Those who attempt to stop abusing addictive drugs or alcohol often experience strong cravings, as well as extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
These can range from mild anxiety to severe paranoia and hallucinations, depending on the substance and the severity of abuse. For this reason, home detox is only recommended when one has a mild substance abuse disorder. Even then, it can fail due to a number of other factors. In cases of substance use disorders, medical drug detoxification is strongly recommended.
It’s Uncomfortable at the Least
The biggest barrier to home detox is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Despite the best of intentions, many people attempting to stop drug use on their own find that the discomfort of withdrawal is simply too much to take, and end up relapsing before detox is complete.
Withdrawal Symptoms Can Be Dangerous
Many people who try to detox at home don’t take into account that going “cold turkey” on some drugs can be dangerous due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms that may follow. In extreme cases, withdrawal can provoke symptoms as severe as psychotic episodes. This is why medical management and supervision is so crucial to successful detox – it prevents the opportunity for relapse by providing a monitored drug and alcohol-free environment, and ensures that any dangerous behaviors do not result in harm to the patient or others.
Friends and Family are Not Equipped
Home detox may be possible if friends and family ensure that the drug user’s environment is completely free of opportunities to take the drug, or to hurt themselves or others. Having supportive friends and family present can be a valuable aid in the detox process, assuming they do not encourage drug-seeking behavior. However, family and friends lack the training or means to lessen the discomfort of withdrawal. They may be able to help the drug user pass time, but they do not have the medication or expertise necessary to respond to withdrawal issues as they arise.
Detox is Not Treatment
Another pitfall of home detox is the belief that it constitutes treatment for substance abuse in and of itself. Detox is not treatment – it is the foundation for treatment. Ridding oneself of drugs or alcohol is vital to the recovery process, but just going through detox does not teach one how to confront the real physical, mental, and spiritual issues underlying substance abuse.
Detox at home may be the right option in some mild cases of substance abuse when support is available. It may also be the only option for some who lack access to professional treatment. However, professional treatment and subsequent follow-through with a dedicated drug rehab recovery program is almost always the safer and more effective option.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call 855.712.7784 . We can help.