How To Detox Your Body From Drugs: Medical Vs. At-Home Detox – For most people, detox is the first critical step to sobriety. It’s an essential component of becoming clean and building the foundation for the entire recovery process. Unfortunately, detox and the accompanying drug withdrawal symptoms are the most challenging part for many, but the right approach can make detox safer, more comfortable, and prevent relapse.
Pros and Cons of At-Home Detox
An at-home detox focuses on removing the toxic substances from your body without much assistance from medication or professional supervision. Some people rely on others for help or make use of alternative therapies such as herbal remedies, meditation, and yoga.
Although doing a home drug detox can save money, it’s also generally considered the least effective way to detox. Many people start with a strong desire to change their life, only to find they underestimated the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and are driven to relapse.
Dangers of At-Home Detox
Detoxing at home can be risky, as some substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can invoke life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, if you are a heavy drinker or addicted to drugs such as Xanax, Ativan, or Valium, you should not attempt to quit “cold-turkey,” since this could result in seizures and other dangerous complications.
Opioids such as heroin do not usually cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, but there is still a risk for an extreme response. During the first few days of heroin detox, the experience of withdrawal symptoms often compels people to feel as if they’ll do whatever it takes to obtain and consume more of the drug to forestall the symptoms.
There have also been cases of deaths occurring during opioid withdrawal due to dehydration and malnourishment. If you must detox at-home, it is crucial to plan ahead. Make sure to have over-the-counter medications that may be helpful on hand, have a friend close by, drink lots of water, and eat as healthy as possible.
Medical Detox – The Best Way to Detox Your Body from Drugs
A medically-supervised detox can be completed naturally, without medication, but still take place in a medical environment. In this scenario, patients have doctor supervision and access to medical intervention if needed. Medical detox can be done in either an inpatient or outpatient setting and is a much safer way to detox and withdrawal symptoms than attempting to do it alone.
Pros and Cons of Medical Detox
The main difference between a natural and medical detox is that the latter can benefit from the use of withdrawal symptom-relieving detox medications. But, as to be expected, some people do fear that medical detox is essentially the same as substituting one drug for another.
However, when the correct precautions are taken, and medication is appropriately administered, a new addiction should not develop. In fact, these medications can help the patient manage their cravings so they are better able to focus on recovery.
Medication-assisted detox is an excellent way to mitigate withdrawal symptoms from dangerous substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. And, for any addiction, it can also provide symptom relief and prevent relapse.
Medical detox is usually offered on an inpatient basis, but if outpatient, it will usually require daily trips to the clinic or recovery center. Some of the medications themselves can also have a potential for abuse. Furthermore, the ideal candidate for medical detox is someone who has an addiction to a substance that can be dangerous or highly unpleasant to withdraw from and who is genuinely motivated to recover.
What to Expect
The first step in a medical detox is an assessment. A doctor will collect information about a person’s substance use, physical and mental health history, and goals. From there, medication will be administered, if appropriate, and symptoms and vital signs will be monitored.
For opioid withdrawal, there are a few FDA-approved medications that may be prescribed, including the following:
Buprenorphine is a drug that reduces the withdrawal symptoms without inducing feelings of being high. It’s often given in combination with naloxone (as Suboxone), which is an added drug that produces a withdrawal reaction if the patient attempts to abuse the buprenorphine and inject it.
Naltrexone is a medication often prescribed after detox to help with relapse prevention. Naltrexone is designed to mitigate and suppress cravings for opioid drugs. It achieves this by binding to opioid receptors in the person’s brain, thereby competing with and removing other opioid drugs on these receptors, and, as a result, suppresses cravings.
For alcohol withdrawal, patients may receive the following FDA-approved pharmaceuticals:
Acamprosate, a medication that which reduces withdrawal symptoms.
Disulfiram, a medication that deactivates an enzyme that the body needs to metabolize alcohol, making alcohol consumption uncomfortable.
Naltrexone, a medication that works similarly for both alcohol addiction and opioid addiction by blocking opioid receptors in the brain.
Medical detox medications can be used safely for a prolonged period, but eventually, a tapering schedule may be needed to prevent new withdrawal symptoms.
Choosing the Most Effective Detox Method
Ideally, drug detox should take place under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional in a clinical environment. This method of detox ensures safety and maximum comfort, and also effectively prevents relapse. Those who have any way of undergoing their detox under medical supervision are urged to do so.
Regardless of whether a person chooses a medical or at-home detox, participation in a comprehensive addiction treatment program, such as those offered by Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is strongly advised. Our programs employ therapeutic modalities essential for recovery, including psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.
You can restore happiness and wellness to your life and live free from substance abuse! Contact us today to find out how we can help!