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Can I Detox at Home?

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 27th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

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. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

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.

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At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.