How Dangerous Is Detoxing at Home?

Medically Reviewed

We have all seen the get rich quick schemes, which always turn out to be shams. The same goes for do-it-yourself detox programs that may appeal to those struggling to pay for professional addiction treatment. Shortcuts for something that can be dangerous are not recommended when treating substance use disorders. At-home detox, otherwise known as going cold turkey, is risky if you are dependent on alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. There are many complications involved and can quickly turn deadly.

Substance use will eventually change how the brain functions, which will result in uncontrollable drug cravings and failed attempts to cut back or stop. You may find that you want to stop, but the process to do so is not as simple as it once was when you started using the drug. Unfortunately, it will lead to a severe substance use disorder that becomes an addiction.

Why Is Detoxing At Home Dangerous?

There are many reasons why at-home detoxes are risky. If you or someone you love is considering this option, keep the following in mind:

  • Personal Injury Increases: If you attempt to stop using drugs or alcohol at home, you will not have the proper medical care if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol and benzodiazepine-related withdrawal symptoms may cause seizures or delirium tremens (DTs), which is a critical condition where someone experiences body tremors, hallucinations, and restlessness. These are symptoms that require immediate medical care.
  • No medical attention for health emergencies: It’s stressful enough going through this on your own, but not having medical attention during drug withdrawal can be fatal. The challenging part of substance withdrawal is trying to determine how long your symptoms will last or how severe they may become. Detoxing at home means you will not have medical expertise if an emergency occurs.
  • The chance of relapse is much higher: At-home detox is not enough to help you understand the underlying issues that contribute to your addiction. Unfortunately, the chance of relapse is much higher, which increases the chances of overdosing on a substance. A break in use may give your body time to recover, but it makes you vulnerable to adverse reactions to your standard dose of the drug due to lower tolerance. If your body is not used to the dose, you could perish. We suggest medical detox to ensure a safe recovery process.
  • Detoxing at home isn’t focused on long-term sobriety: Detoxing from substances alone means that you bypass guidance with the necessary help of resources designed to help individuals remain sober after detox. It’s unnecessary to forego this process alone, and professional treatment centers will connect you to others who are going through the same experience. Going through this process with others that understand addiction and recovery will help you put substance abuse on the back burner. You will start to enjoy life as it was meant to be – sober and happy.
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