How To Detox Your Body From Drugs: Medical vs. Home Detox – For most people, detox is the first essential step to long-term sobriety. It’s a vital component of becoming clean and establishing a foundation for the rest of the recovery process. Unfortunately, detox and the accompanying withdrawal symptoms can be one of the most challenging aspects of recovery, but the right approach can make detox safer and more comfortable and effectively prevent relapse.
Are There Advantages of At-Home Detox?
An at-home detox focuses on the elimination of toxic substances from the body with little or no assistance from medication or professional supervision. Although doing a drug detox at home can save money, it’s also widely considered to be the least effective way to detox. Many people begin with a definite desire to change their life, only to find that they underestimated the discomfort of enduring withdrawal symptoms and are compelled to relapse.
People who detox at home often do so because they don’t have health insurance or cannot afford medical treatment. They may also be wary of involving anyone “untrusted” in their addiction or recovery, which, unfortunately, prevents them from benefitting from professional medical and mental health care and support.
Dangers of At-Home Detox
Detoxing at home without professional help can be risky, as some substances, including alcohol and benzodiazepines, can induce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, if you are a heavy drinker or dependent on drugs such as Xanax or Valium, you should not attempt to quit abruptly or “cold-turkey,” since this action could result in seizures and other severe complications.
Opioids such as heroin do not usually produce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, but there is still a risk for extreme reactions. There have also been cases of fatalities occurring during opioid withdrawal related to malnourishment and dehydration.
If you must detox at home, it is critical to plan ahead. Make sure to have over-the-counter medications that may be helpful available, have a loved one nearby, drink lots of water, and eat as healthy as possible.
Medical Detox—The Best Way to Detox Your Body from Drugs
A medically-monitored detox can be completed without medication but still be performed in a clinical environment. In this situation, patients are under doctor supervision and have access to medical intervention if needed. Medical detox can be conducted in either an inpatient or outpatient setting and is a much safer method of detox than attempting to do it alone.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Medical Detox
The main difference between an at-home and medical detox is that the latter can benefit from the administration of withdrawal symptom-relieving medications. But understandably, some people fear that medical detox is essentially the same thing as substituting one drug for another.
However, when the proper precautions are taken, and medication is appropriately administered, a new addiction should not develop. In fact, these medications can help the person manage their cravings, so they are better able to concentrate on their recovery. Moreover, medication-assisted detox is an effective way to ease the withdrawal symptoms related to dangerous substances such as alcohol and benzos.
As a possible disadvantage, medical detox that is performed on an outpatient basis does require daily trips to the addiction treatment facility. This may be more challenging for those without reliable transportation. Also, some of the medications themselves may have the potential for abuse when used outside of a clinical environment.
Furthermore, the ideal candidate for medical detox is someone who is genuinely motivated to recover. Those who detox at home may be throwing caution to the wind and less committed to avoiding relapse.
Medications for Detox
For opioid use disorders, there are a few FDA-approved medications that can be administered, including the following:
Buprenorphine is a drug that mitigates withdrawal symptoms without inducing euphoric feelings. It’s often prescribed in combination with naloxone (e.g., Suboxone) which is a drug that produces a withdrawal respond if the patient tries to misuse buprenorphine.
Naltrexone is a medication commonly prescribed after detox to assist with relapse prevention. Naltrexone is designed to reduce cravings for opioids. It achieves this by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, thereby competing with and blocking other opioid drugs from binding to these receptors, and, as a result, suppresses cravings.
For alcohol addictions, patients may receive the following FDA-approved medications:
- Acamprosate, which reduces withdrawal symptoms.
- Disulfiram, a medication that deactivates an enzyme that the body requires to metabolize alcohol, making alcohol use uncomfortable.
- Naltrexone, which works similarly for alcoholism as it does for opioid addiction.
Medical detox medications can be used safely for an extended period, but eventually, a tapering schedule may be needed to prevent new withdrawal symptoms from developing.
Choosing the Most Effective Detox Method
Ideally, detox should be performed under the direct supervision of a qualified medical provider in a clinical environment. This method of detox ensures safety and maximum comfort and also helps to prevent relapse. Those who have any way of undergoing detox under clinical supervision are strongly urged to do so.
Regardless of whether a person chooses to detox in a medical or home environment, subsequent participation in a comprehensive addiction treatment program, such as those offered by Harmony Recovery Center, is strongly advised. Our programs include therapeutic services vital to recovery, such as psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
You can restore happiness and wellness to your life and live free from drug and alcohol! Contact us today to find out how we can help!