Finally making the decision to get clean and sober is a big step for anyone struggling with addiction. Nevertheless, it is only the first step. In our years of experience, we have seen many individuals make a common mistake, when attempting to find recovery. That is the matter of attempting detox alone, without the help and supervision of medical professionals and addictions specialists.
No matter the substance you are using, or how much or how long you’ve been doing so, it is especially important to understand the risks associated with detoxing on your own. Not only are your chances of sustained recovery lessened, but you put yourself at great risk, with some side-effects posing fatal consequences. So today, our addiction treatment center would like to talk about why detoxing on your own is never a good idea, the dangers of doing so, and why detox is simply not enough to achieve lasting sobriety.
The Dangers of Detoxing Without Medical Supervision
It is understandable why some individuals may believe it is safe to do an at-home detox, with the over-abundance of advertisements promoting self-cleanses these days. It is important to note that there is a major difference between wanting to rid the body of toxins and performing a diet cleanse, and wanting to stop drinking heavily or using drugs. This is especially the case for individuals who have crossed the line into physical dependence and full blown addiction.
For instance, if an alcoholic has decided that it is time to stop drinking, but doesn’t want to commit to a treatment program, they may genuinely believe that they can “do it on their own.” While every substance poses a great risk to a person’s well-being, detoxing from alcohol can be extremely gruesome and dangerous, if not properly monitored. Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include increased anxiety, irritability, excessive sweating, body tremors, insomnia, and nausea. Some consequences have even proven to be deadly, including hallucinations, convulsions, seizures, and heart failure. When other health issues are present, it is extremely important they are taken under consideration, especially if medication is prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals have the ability to assess your history and design a treatment plan that will best address your symptoms and needs, ensuring that your health and well-being are of utmost importance.
Another common issue we often see are opioid users attempting to detox themselves with medications they bought illicitly. Although Suboxone and Subutex, and other medications have proven to be beneficial in aiding in the detox process, they should only be taken under the supervision of physicians or treatment providers. Many of these medications have proven to have adverse reactions with certain individuals, or when used in conjunction with other medications or drugs. For instance, when a person mixes Suboxone with a benzodiazepine, such as Xanax, they run risk of potential respiratory failure, coma, and death.
Although the symptoms and severity of detox can vary from one substance to another, as well as by individual, it is important to always consult with an addictions specialist or medical professional before doing so.
Detox Is Not Enough
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions regarding detox. We often hear a person say, “Once I get this (drugs/alcohol) out of my system, I will be fine.” For some, it may sound easy enough, but for anyone that has suffered through addiction, you know this is simply not the case. If it were just a matter of physical dependence, then everyone would find sobriety, and more importantly, we wouldn’t be in the midst of an addiction epidemic. Although a stigma surrounding addiction still exists today, it is in fact a chronic brain disease that needs to be treated in the same realm as other illnesses.
If someone is diagnosed with heart disease, we don’t just tell them to stop eating badly. Firstly, the patient and his/her history is assessed. Then the physician devises a treatment plan specific to their needs. More often than not, the doctor will recommend an entire lifestyle change for the patient, including eating healthier, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and reducing stress levels. This plan is not something that is intended to be started and stopped by a specific time or day. These recommendations are meant to be carried out throughout a patient’s lifetime, to better manage the symptoms of their disease, and reduce the likelihood of potentially fatal outcomes, such as a heart attack.
The same goes for addiction. Although a person can find sobriety and cease the use of drugs and alcohol, they will always live with their disease. Like a patient with heart disease, an addict or alcoholic has to make a complete lifestyle change, to reduce the symptoms associated with their disease. Meaning, a patient must undergo therapy and counseling to learn new coping skills and address factors that may contribute to their use. Furthermore, participating in a 12-step fellowship and leaning on others who share similar experiences, is crucial to the management of the disease.
It is important to look at it like this: The physical dependence on a substance is only ONE symptom of addiction, which is resolved through a detox process. When we treat only one symptom of a disease, what usually happens? The individual never really gets better. It may appear as though they do for a while, but eventually, they suffer graver consequences. This is unfortunately the reality for many users who believe detox is enough, or those who attempt detoxing on their own. Without addressing the remaining symptoms of addiction, including mental, emotional, and spiritual shortcomings, they eventually return back to active addiction.
Dr. Kyle Kampman, a psychiatrist specializing in addiction at the University of Pennsylvania, says it best, “Addiction isn’t something you can just flush out of your body. It’s a disease.”
Contact Clearbrook Today For Detox And Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know is currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, please do not try detoxing on your own. Help is available for you!
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing quality treatment to the chemically dependent person. When you arrive here, our medical and clinical team will assess your needs, to provide you with the best care possible. From a customized detoxification protocol to individualized clinical treatment plans, we will offer you the best chance toward recovery.
If you are ready to make a change, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. Recovery is possible, and it starts here!