If you're struggling with addiction and are ready to get help, you might be thinking about what comes next. For many people, the first step in the treatment journey is detox, which entails going through withdrawal from the effects of substances in the body.
Withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe, often varying from person to person and depending on a number of factors, like the frequency of your chemical use or your specific drug of choice. And while detox facilities are helpful for many people, some opt to detox on their own at home. But, is it safe?
Before you attempt a DIY detox, here are a few things to consider.
- Drug of choice. Everyone’s experience in addiction and recovery is different. So before you detox at home, consider what your drug of choice is. Some drugs, like stimulants, can carry a milder physical withdrawal, but a difficult mental withdrawal characterized by irritability, depression and suicidal thoughts. Depressants, like alcohol and opioids, can have more physical symptoms like nausea, shakes and hallucinations. Here's a more in-depth look on what to expect during alcohol withdrawal.
- Withdrawal symptoms. For people who have chronically abused alcohol, or are addicted to opioids, there are very notable symptoms associated with detox and withdrawal. Shaking, vomiting and rapid heart rate are just a few. Withdrawal isn't easy, but it's a necessary first step. If you think you could be at risk of relapsing as you start experiencing uncomfortable physical symptoms, it might not be a good idea to go it alone. Support is a good thing, and there's no shame in using it.
- Personal recovery history. If this is your first experience in recovery, it is a good idea to contact a detox treatment center or medical professional for support as you go through withdrawal. Professional input will help you determine if it's safe for you to detox at home or if you'll need more support. If you've experienced withdrawal before and know how you respond, it could provide insight as to what you'll need to stay both safe and sober through the detox experience.
The bottom line?
Contact a treatment facility or doctor as you start your treatment journey. They can help you determine if you're safe to detox at home, if you'll be better served by a detox facility, or by having peer recovery support through the detox process.
Detoxing at home can carry risks like increased risk of relapse, improperly or illegally self-medicating, illness, and in some severe cases, death.
Here's how medical detox can be beneficial:
Round-the-clock support to monitor your physical and emotional health
Help if any unforeseen physical health complications arise
Emotional support to help prevent relapse
Remember, detox is just the first step in the treatment journey – but it's an important one. A successful detox experience is the precursor to getting treatment, where you'll start to learn important skills for relapse prevention and coping.
So when in doubt, reach out. Asking for help is a foundational principle of recovery, so why not start from day one?