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Detox vs. Cold Turkey

To be completely accurate, detox anywhere can be cold turkey, in other words, abruptly done. Whether or not a person pays for detox, some agencies will not provide medications unless they are clinically and medically necessary. Others will give users medication to ease their way out of their addiction.

The distinction I make here is whether or not you need to go to a hospital or clinical setting. Some people can do this at home, unless they are going to suffer seizures (as from alcohol detox from long-term, chronic drinking). Most drugs can be medically withdrawn from the body without substituting other drugs. Some people prefer a detox on medications, due to the fact that coming off pain killers, heroin, and some other drugs can be excrutiating.

Detoxing at a Facilty

The average cost of detox in a facility depends on several factors. If you have insurance, it will range according to how much your insurance company will pay. If the agency provides medical detox, this can get quite pricey, because use of Suboxone or other medications to get you “clean” is expensive. It requires an medical doctor, a nurse to monitor your care, and other personnel. A nonmedical setting may give you a place to be quiet for sleep, food and opportunity to attend groups and client interaction. They will have a room and someone to monitor your progress. It depends on what substances and how long you are using.

Costs for detox facilities can range from $200 per day for a setting with no medical interventions to $10,000.00 per day for all the comforts of home (if you regularly live on a tropical island with servants!) It is possible to get clean from substance use in either setting.

Cold Turkey at Home

It can also be possible to do this in your home. There are a few exceptions, and it will be regularly repeated here that this should only be done with the oversight of your personal physician. If you are coming off of anti-anxiety medication or muscle relaxing medication, please consult your doctor before attempting detox. These drugs need to be slowly titrated from a user’s system. Stopping them abruptly is very dangerous and has serious side effects. Be sure to consult a physician!

If you opt for detox at home, the best advice is to find a friend or loved one who will help you through the worst of it, usually three to five days. During this time, they need to be sure that you do not fall, that your intake of water and other nutrients is consistent, even if it makes you sick. There is a need for your body to have liquids and electrolytes to function during detox. If you can take them, chicken broth, soda crackers, white rice and applesauce are the foods most easily digested during distress. Be sure to ask someone to help you who will not give in and give you medications to get you through. If you are coming off a drug that must be titrated down, have them go with you to the doctor so they know how much and when to give it. They need to be completely aware of danger signs to look for. A safe friend who knows how this detox business feels from personal experience may be the best help you can find.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work, with a specialization in substance abuse treatment. Having worked in this field for over 20 years, she is currently working on her certification as an addictions’ counselor.

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