Detoxing Alone: Why It’s Not a Good Idea

Overcoming addiction to drugs like opioids, heroin, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, involves going through withdrawal, which can cause many uncomfortable symptoms and sometimes even severe health effects or even death.

Detox is the first step in recovery and before one can begin addiction treatment, their body must be cleansed of the substances they are physically dependent on. Alcohol or benzodiazepine addicts usually experience the most dangerous withdrawal process, as quitting these cold turkey can cause potentially fatal complications, including seizures and delirium.

Given the dangers of detox, it should always occur under the supervision of medical professionals. They monitor patients throughout the process and provide medical care whenever necessary to make withdrawal more comfortable. Inpatient detox, for example, could save lives. If any life-threatening symptoms occur, staff can provide medical interventions that would otherwise be unavailable to people detoxing at home.

Heroin and Prescription Opioid Withdrawal

Withdrawal from opioids is rarely fatal, but the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. Early symptoms can include anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, and insomnia, with more to come as withdrawal progresses. Under medical supervision, though, opioid withdrawal can be much more manageable. Rehab facilities, for example, provide medications to relieve some of the mild symptoms.

A common medication used in opioid withdrawal therapy is buprenorphine, which can displace opioids such as heroin from the body’s opioid receptors, reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The medication is also effective in blocking the euphoric effects experienced when taking opioids.

Alcohol Detox

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, alcohol withdrawal occurs during the first 6 to 24 hours after a person suffering from addiction stops drinking. Some of the mild withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia.

For those whose symptoms are mild, detox can be done at home, but for those with severe addictions it is especially critical that they go through it while under supervision, as the complications of withdrawal could be fatal. Those with severe addictions may experience hallucinations, arrhythmia, seizures, elevated blood pressure, and more.

Medical professionals at inpatient rehab facilities can be of great help to clients with severe symptoms. Benzodiazepines such as Librium can help quell anxiety and other dangerous symptoms, including seizures and delirium tremens.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Detoxing from benzodiazepines can be particularly complicated because it can last for up to three months if an individual has been taking high doses of the medication for extended lengths of time. If not managed properly, withdrawal can lead to several serious symptoms, some of which are life threatening, including seizures, catatonia, delirium tremens, and even coma. A trained professional can assess a client’s dependence and develop a personalized treatment regimen.

Sometimes, when they are admitted to treatment, people with a benzodiazepine addiction may be experiencing and overdose, which can be addressed by professionals in several ways. If the overdose was recent, they may perform a stomach pump, or they can administer flumazenil, which reverses the sedative and overdose side effects of benzodiazepines.

Don’t Go Through Detox Alone

It may seem like detoxing from drugs or alcohol at home is an easier and more affordable option, but it can come with serious risks. You may end up in a situation where you need medical assistance but are unable to receive it in time.

Alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, and other drugs can cause severe health complications that require medications and monitoring from trained professionals. Safety should be your main concern when seeking treatment for a substance use disorder, and the safest choice is to detox in a professional setting.