When someone reaches the point where they want to stop using substances, the first step to recovery is undergoing detox. Some people mistakenly believe they can detox at home alone without any professional help. However, taking this approach to address substance use and addiction is often unsuccessful. There are also several dangers of detoxing at home, including certain life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Why Do People Detox at Home?
People may decide to detox from substance use disorder at home for various reasons. In some cases, people may not have access to professional treatment in their area, or they may be unable to afford it.
Additionally, some people may feel they are more comfortable and secure in the familiar environment of their own home. Then some people decide to detox at home because it provides them with privacy as they are afraid to share their substance use with others. However, while the reasons can seem valid, there are dangers of detoxing at home.
What Is At-Home Detox?
At-home detox is a method some people attempt when they want help and are struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) to break their addiction. Unfortunately, they often believe they can detox on their own without the need for professional care and supervised detox.
The concept of at-home detox is that the individual will abstain from using substances and go through withdrawal symptoms without any supervision. Initially, they may fare well in the first 24 to 48 hours. Yet, as withdrawal symptoms start to peak and become more intense, they often relapse and return to using their substance of choice simply to make the withdrawal symptoms stop.
Dangers of Unsupervised Detox
People need to be aware of the dangers of unsupervised detox. For starters, detoxing can be very difficult because many withdrawal symptoms associated with substance use disorders are rather unpleasant and uncomfortable. In some instances, the withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
Next, without medical supervision, the person does not have access to various medications that can help reduce and alleviate the more severe withdrawal symptoms. Instead, they attempt to go through withdrawal “cold turkey.”
In addition, some people may find it difficult to fight cravings and feel overwhelmed by the psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Not to mention the physical withdrawal symptoms can become so painful.
Unfortunately, some people suffer in pain and can start contemplating self-harm just to make the pain stop. Furthermore, there can be risks of tremors, seizures, and other serious medical conditions. As such, at-home detox should never be attempted if one desires to stop using substances successfully.
Can At-Home Detox Lead to Death?
At-home detox without medical supervision can be dangerous and, in some cases, lead to death due to overdose or complications from withdrawal. The risk of death is higher because when someone relapses, they are more likely to use a higher amount of their preferred substance to stop withdrawal symptoms. Another concern is when someone is attempting at-home detox from alcohol. Part of the more severe withdrawal symptoms includes seizures and DTs (delirium tremens).
Relapse and Detoxing at Home
Relapse is common during at-home detox, as the individual does not have access to professional support or medical guidance. It is also difficult for individuals to stay motivated and committed to their recovery while going through withdrawal.
They are in an environment where they have no support and often have to rely on themself. Additionally, people will experience cravings and triggers and could potentially be exposed to other unhealthy behaviors. For instance, if other people in the home use substances or the individual does not change their behaviors, there is a high probability of relapse.
Most importantly, people attempting to detox at home without professional help have little or no knowledge of the best way to manage their symptoms, cope with cravings, and deal with triggers when they occur. As a result, they are more likely to relapse.
What Is Medical Supervision Better for Detoxing?
Medical supervision is strongly recommended when attempting to detox from substance use disorder. Professional treatment can provide individuals with the necessary support and guidance throughout the recovery process, as well as access to medications that may help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
Medical professionals can recognize signs of relapse and can intervene if needed. Additionally, professional care centers often have a variety of resources available for individuals struggling with addiction, such as group therapy sessions, individual counseling, 12-step meetings, family support groups, and more – all of which can be beneficial in helping someone stay sober long-term.
At-Home Detox: Final Thoughts
At-home detox should not be attempted without medical supervision as it increases the risk of relapse, severe withdrawal symptoms, and in some cases, death due to overdose or complications from withdrawal. Professional detox centers provide individuals with the necessary support and guidance throughout the recovery process and access to medications that can help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, this makes it a safer option for those attempting to recover from substance use disorder.
Take the First Steps Toward a New Life in Orange County, CA
Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, California, is here to help you take the first steps towards a new life with our personalized medically supervised detox and rehab programs. Our programs help you avoid the dangers of detoxing at home to get you started on the right path to recovery.
Contact our IMS and JCAHO-accredited treatment center to start your recovery journey today.