Alcohol and drug addiction affect millions of families every year. Not everyone is ready to enter treatment or commit to lasting abstinence, even when the consequences become evident. Some individuals with this ambivalence may attempt to wean off or cease substance use at home. It is imperative to understand that detoxing from alcohol and other drugs at home can put an individual at risk of life-threatening complications. Fortunately, medical detox reduces these risks and encourages individuals to kickstart their recovery journey.
What Is Detox?
Detoxification, or detox, is a set of techniques and services that clear the remnants of alcohol and other drugs from an individual’s body. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), detox “seeks to minimize the physical harm caused by the abuse of substances.” Although detoxification can vary, SAMHSA identifies three essential components of these programs.
Step 1: Evaluation
This initial step entails testing an individual’s blood for the presence and concentration of alcohol and other drugs in their body. During an evaluation, an individual can expect also to be screened for any co-occurring mental health disorders and physical conditions. This step allows healthcare staff to curate a good treatment plan for the client.
Step 2: Stabilization
An individual needs the direct administration of clinical guidance and psychological support during detox. The goal of this step is to appropriately assist a client through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms until they reach a medically stable state. This step can often last from three to seven days; however, it varies depending on the specific substances, potency, frequency of intake, and underlying conditions.
Many programs provide medication to clients to reduce and manage withdrawal and any co-occurring mental health symptoms. Others only include mental health counseling and a safe environment.
Stabilization, in either form, also includes educating a client on available treatment programs and what to expect from continued treatment. Often family members are involved in helping motivate the client.
Step 3: Planning Further Treatment
Similar to step two, this involves preparing a client for addiction treatment. This is done by stressing the importance of following through with the continuum of care for substance abuse treatment. Individuals who have received detoxification services multiple times – especially those who have not followed through with treatment – may be encouraged to sign a written contract to hold them accountable for participating in treatment.
The Benefits of Utilizing Detox Services
When considering whether to cease substances at home, it is essential to recognize the benefits of professional detox services. Some of these benefits include:
Minimized the Risk of Health Complications
First and foremost, detox services can minimize the risk of health complications caused by withdrawal. Alcohol and other drug use cause dysfunction in brain structure and functioning. Additionally, chronic substance abuse can lead to dependency.
When an individual attempts to cease chronic substance abuse, their brain and body become physically sick. They may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tremors (particularly for alcohol withdrawal)
In severe cases, withdrawal complications can include:
- Extreme mood swings
- Intense fluctuations in blood pressure or body temperature
With professional guidance, a client can avoid experiencing these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When detoxing at home, an individual cannot access professional support or medical care that could save their life.
Strengthened Accountability for Treatment Entry and Participation
Lasting recovery requires individuals to be accountable for their actions and decisions, especially in ceasing substance use and abuse. More often than not, professional and peer support are necessary to foster this sense of accountability and to empower an individual to remain abstinent.
A benefit of detox services is strengthening a client’s accountability for entering and participating in continued substance abuse treatment. At home, an individual will experience a lack of accountability for establishing or maintaining sobriety.
Detox is the first step in the pre-treatment process. Participation in a substance abuse treatment program is necessary for lasting recovery. SAMHSA states, “Studies show that detoxification and its linkage to the appropriate levels of treatment lead to increased recovery and decreased use of detoxification and treatment services in the future.”
Reduced Risk of Relapse
In detox, healthcare professionals can properly educate clients about the harm their substance abuse is causing them. Clients can overcome any ambivalence surrounding treatment and recovery during these important conversations with professionals.
When detoxing at home, an individual does not have the resources available to help them work through ambivalence. Likewise, they may have alcohol and other drugs still readily available in their environment, a factor in future relapse.
Individuals must be fully removed from triggering environments to allow their brains to heal from substance dependency and address any dysfunction that substance abuse has caused to their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
The Verdict for At-Home Detox
Those contemplating detoxing from alcohol and other drugs should consider professional detox services. Sure, there may be extremely mild cases of substance abuse where an individual may be able to detox at home safely. However, detoxing at home does not provide accountability or mental health support. After detox at a qualified facility, a person may find refuge from substance abuse with an accredited treatment facility like 12 South Recovery.
Detoxing from alcohol and other drugs at home can cause life-threatening complications. Even when attempting to cease mild substance abuse, detoxing at home does not provide accountability for participating in treatment or mental health support. Medical detox programs provide professional support and guidance. This helps clients effectively withdraw from chronic alcohol and drug use. Here at 12 South Recovery, we can tailor our outpatient treatment options to fit your unique, long-term recovery needs. While we do not offer detoxification services, we can refer you to facilities that do. We can help you take the next step after completing detox. After completing detox and higher levels of care, you can return to our facility. Call us today at 866-839-6876.