What Are Detox Programs: Meaning, Features, and Dangers of Doing it at Home

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Substance abuse is something that can impact anyone. When someone’s addicted, they may continue using substances despite any negative impacts. This complex and often layered issue affects not only the individual trapped in the cycle but often family and friends as well.

There are a variety of reasons why someone may have substance abuse issues. Many times, it starts as a way to deal with difficult emotions or stress, but using substances is only a short-term solution. If someone develops a substance use disorder, it can have debilitating effects on their life. It’s important to seek help for you or a loved one going through addiction. A detox program can be a good start, but what exactly should be expected from Detox?

What’s the Meaning of a Detox Program?

When someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs, their bodies become so used to having these substances that they can experience very uncomfortable symptoms known as a withdrawal without the chemicals. Detox is essentially the process of eliminating all traces of these substances in the person’s body.

detox program is intended to help those addicted to substances through the process of withdrawal, minimizing the negative effects of these symptoms. Depending on what type of drug a person is detoxifying from, it may take more or less time to finish this part of the program.

Detox programs are meant to serve as a key step on the path to recovery from substance abuse, but one component of a detox program is understanding that this first step only tackles the physical aspects of addiction. As part of a larger rehabilitation program, detox first addresses the physical aspects of addiction so people can later holistically address mental health issues.

Features of a Detox Program

When someone enters a detox program, they will first have a medical assessment. The doctor will need to know the patient’s medical history including any medical issues they may have, the last time they used the substance, and if there is more than one substance they’re addicted to.

Depending on the substance that the person is recovering from, detox will usually take three, five, or seven days to get through. Once in the detox program, it is imperative for patients to stay for the full length. This prospect can seem daunting at first, like a giant hill to climb for the patient, but it will be the first step towards the long path to recovery.

Detoxification for some addictions, such as opioids, may be accompanied by medications. The short-term process of detox should be followed up by a holistic treatment program. It is often advised to patients to follow up with an inpatient treatment program following detox in order to be better equipped with the skills necessary for sober living afterwards. Outpatient care can also help, but with the short amount of time that a detox program is, many people may not be quite ready to simply live at home.

Dangers of Doing a Detox at Home

When someone is addicted to substances, they often believe they have everything under control. This is why sometimes they believe it will be possible for them to initiate and complete a detox at home. However, not only is the possibility of relapse more likely, but some substances could even be dangerous to detox from on your own. Some potential considerations for detoxing at home include:

  • Relapse
  • Potential overdose
  • Not addressing co-occurring disorders
  • Health complications

The relapse rate is between 40 and 60% for those struggling with substance abuse. Though relapse is possible even after medically assisted detox and rehabilitation programs, the potential risks are higher with detoxing at home. 

If a person relapses during an at-home detox there’s a higher possibility of an overdose as a direct result of intense withdrawal symptoms and cravings. They may have managed to get to a point where the drug has been mostly cleansed from their body, but still use the same high dosage of the drug they were used to before starting the detox process. 

Co-occurring disorders often accompany substance abuse, which is why it’s important to look at addiction from a holistic perspective. Detox primarily tackles the physical aspects of addiction, but afterward treatment centers will often help address potential mental health issues such as depression or PTSD. Withdrawals from certain drugs such as opioids have even been linked to severe potential mental health risks including suicide

Health complications can vary depending on the drug someone is detoxifying from. Alcohol has its own potential risks such as delirium tremens and vitamin depletion. Mild symptoms such as dehydration can cause vomiting or even lead to the failure of vital organs. In general, even when they’re not lethal, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable to deal with. These can be more easily navigated with the guidance of medical professionals. 

Having a detox program in a professional medical setting is not only much safer than trying it at home, but it will also give those who are dealing with addiction more emotional support in the process. Medical professionals supervising each step of the detox process means they can monitor and identify withdrawal symptoms and determine if medications or medical intervention is needed. After the detox program, they can guide recovering addicts on the right path regarding counseling as well.

Guidance Towards Recovery

Due to the potential complications that can come with attempting a detox at home, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional for detox. After this first step in the recovery process, following up with a long-term recovery plan is the next part in this lifelong path. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, check out this link to start exploring your options. With dedicated clinicians and staff who are experienced in detox programs and the steps to take after, Achieve Wellness and Recovery will help guide every step of the way towards a life free of addiction.

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