Detoxing: Don’t Do It Alone

You’ve made the decision to end your drug or alcohol addiction — and you’re determined to start your recovery right away.

You do some research on what the right treatment for you is and decide that detox is the first step for you. The sheer number of information and detox options may be overwhelming though, and some of the things you read make you afraid of what could happen to your body during withdrawal. Even though you’re afraid, you decide to stick with your decision and manage detox alone.

That’s a mistake. It’s not safe to attempt alcohol or drug detox on your own at home.

Here are three key reasons why:

You need professional help with withdrawal symptoms.

The detoxing process is tough on the body, and the physical symptoms can last for several days. Withdrawal symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes. More severe withdrawal symptoms can include heart attacks, strokes, or seizures.

For certain substances such as alcohol, heroin, fentanyl, prescription painkillers, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines, a medically monitored detox is critical. Medical professionals – who have access to all of the proper equipment needed to monitor your vital signs – are available to watch over you around the clock and manage your withdrawal symptoms with medications and other alternative treatments. They can also jump in to help you should there be a sudden, critical change in your health.

Even drugs that don’t require medical detox can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, particularly psychological ones. Medical supervision can ensure your safety and comfort.

You are more likely to relapse.

Facing the intense ups and downs of withdrawal by yourself could cause you to quit detoxing before you’re on solid ground. If you’re addicted to a drug like heroin, quitting early is dangerous. Ending detox during the withdrawal process or immediately after puts you at a higher risk for overdose because you’ll have a reduced tolerance for the drug. At a detox facility, you’ll be able to get the counseling and medical supervision you need to deal with the mental symptoms of withdrawal, including anxiety and depression.

You’ll think detox is all you need.

As the National Institute on Drug Abuse says, “Detox alone with no follow-up is not treatment.” Detox prepares you for comprehensive addiction treatment by removing toxins from your body. But you’ll still crave the drugs or alcohol you abused because you have not addressed the root causes of your addiction. In the next stages of treatment, you will learn how to deal with cravings and will acquire relapse prevention tools. At a detox facility, your treatment team can help you find a program with therapies that will work best for you.

Making the decision to detox already changed your life. Finding a place to detox safely is an equally important decision. Explore your options and take that first step on your journey of recovery.

Most of all, don’t go it alone.

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