The painful symptoms of drug withdrawal are the most common cause of relapse. Those who go through the process in a safe, drug-free setting have much higher chances of success.
2. Physical Dangers
Anyone who has suffered from a long-term drug addiction is not likely to be in optimal health. Add to that the extreme physical symptoms of substance use withdrawal, and there could be serious medical dangers to undergoing home detox. For instance, the severe diarrhea and vomiting that takes place during opioid withdrawal could lead to dehydration, hospitalization, or even death.
Cocaine and methamphetamine withdrawal may also prove dangerous without medical supervision, since the symptoms of both can include intense suicidal thoughts. For cases like these, having medical personnel present could be the difference between life and death.
3. Absence of Medicinal or Therapeutic Intervention
No matter where you go through drug detox, the experience will be dreadful. Drug treatment centers do offer various methods to soothe and minimize the most severe withdrawal symptoms, however. Medical doctors, psychiatrists, and expert counselors can prescribe medications to help reduce symptoms, as well as a range of therapeutic activities to help you get out of your head and stay healthy throughout the process.
If you do intend to try completing drug withdrawal at home, be sure to go in for a full medical examination from a doctor beforehand and obtain his or her approval that you are in a suitable medical condition to go through it without professional help. Surround yourself with trustworthy, sober individuals throughout the process to ensure that you stay hydrated, eat when able, and stay as active as possible. Your support system should also be prepared to call an ambulance in case of any emergency. Lastly, in case it wasn’t obvious, remove all illicit substances and drug paraphernalia from the house before beginning detox.
Drug Detox Kits
DIY detox kits are a popular over-the-counter product in drugstores, but do they really prove useful during drug withdrawal? So far, drug detox kits have not shown any medical or therapeutic benefits for users who are going through detox. In fact, some evidence suggests that these products can be harmful.
This is likely because drug detox kits are not certified or approved by any regulatory agencies like the FDA, so there are no protocols in place to ensure they use safe, effective ingredients. What’s more, even though some of the kits claim to help with withdrawal symptoms, they are really only intended to mask the presence of illicit substances in mandatory urine tests. If you are truly interested in getting clean, hiding your drug use with a detox kit is not going to help your recovery.
Professional Detox Programs
Undergoing drug detox at a professional addiction treatment center leads to much higher completion rates. Besides the fact that there is no way to obtain drugs in an inpatient facility, round-the-clock care, medical intervention, therapeutic programs, and encouragement from counselors can all make the experience more bearable. Below are some of the ways that a professional detox program can help you through the process:
Medical Detox Intervention
After an examination by medical and psychiatric doctors, a range of prescriptions can be recommended to help with both the physical and emotional symptoms of drug withdrawal. Although there are not medicinal prescriptions for every kind of drug addiction, many options exist for the most common symptoms.
Medical intervention for opioid withdrawal usually consists of milder, safer forms of the drug to slowly wean the user off of the substance while reducing the severest of withdrawal symptoms. Some of these include:
For stimulant detox, there are several options depending on how withdrawal symptoms manifest. These may include mild stimulants to make the “come down” gentler, muscle relaxers to reduce anxiety and agitation, as well as antidepressants or antipsychotics if the patient is experiencing violent or suicidal thoughts. A few examples of these prescriptions are:
Because medical intervention for drug withdrawal will vary greatly according to the symptoms of each individual patient, medical supervision is required to manage dosage and monitor patient responses to the medications.
A full schedule of rehabilitation treatments may not be possible in the first days of drug detox, but there are therapeutic activities that can help you to better tolerate the arduous process, such as:
- Art therapy
- Gym workouts with a personal trainer
- Mindfulness and meditation
Drug Rehabilitation Treatment
Professional drug rehabilitation offers much more than temporary sobriety. With the help of trained professionals, counselors, and medical personnel, a good drug rehab program will help you to analyze the causes of your addiction, diagnose any underlying psychological conditions that may attribute to your substance use, and learn the tools you will need to overcome the daily challenges of addiction recovery over the course of your everyday life. These tools can be achieved through a combination of counseling, holistic remedies, medical intervention, and therapeutic activities, but it is unlikely the average person with substance use disorder will learn how to achieve lifelong recovery without professional help. Below are a few reasons why.
Addiction Rewires the Brain
Once the brain has formed a dependency to illicit substances, its neural pathways and communication systems will change. Some of these changes will heal with time, but some neural activity will be permanently changed. This is why substance use disorder is defined as chronic; it is never completely healed.
This does not mean that addiction cannot be treated and overcome, but that it is a lifelong condition that will require daily upkeep and commitment to maintain. Think of it as if it were any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or HIV; without proper vigilance, a chronic disease will worsen and eventually kill you.
Drug rehab can help you to understand how your brain and neurological “wiring” have changed, as well as the many ways you can treat and maintain substance use disorder.
The Hazards of Relapse
Attempting recovery at home leads to much higher relapse rates. If you are suffering from drug addiction, it would be safe to assume that your current living situation does not lend itself well to recovery. An abrupt change of scenery in an inpatient addiction treatment program could be the thing you need.
Since drug rehab gives you no options to obtain your substance of choice, as well as provisions for medical and therapeutic intervention to relieve drug withdrawal symptoms, an inpatient facility will make relapse much less likely. In addition to helping with long-term recovery, preventing relapse could save your life.
Risks of Substance Use Overdose During Detox
Your tolerance to illicit substances begins to drop during the first days of detox. That means your body will be more susceptible to the drug with each passing day. If you do relapse and continue with the same dose as before, you could easily overdose using the same amount that you had been taking only a few days before. For this reason, overdose can be deadly, especially for opioid users.
Choosing to undergo detox in a residential care facility where no drugs are available could be the difference between life and death.
Drug Rehab Success Rates
Although there is a lot of research on drug rehab success rates with varying results, the general consensus is the same – long-term recovery rates are higher for those individuals who completed a drug addiction recovery program than for those who didn’t. Here are some studies to illustrate the point:
- Addiction Journal found tsobriety rates were almost 20% higher for patients who completed drug treatment than for those patients who did not.
- The Archives of General Psychiatry Journal published this study showing that out of 1,605 cocaine users, 73% reamined clean for at least a year after completing rehab.
- Another studyJournal found that 48% of meth users who completed drug rehabilitation were still sober three months later, as opposed to 15% of those who only completed detox.
- A survey by the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services shows long-term recovery rates after drug treatment to be 46%, as opposed to 17% for those that only completed detox.
Some find recovery rates between 40-70% to be discouraging, but they shouldn’t be. Sometimes, relapse is part of the long-term recovery process; after all, we are talking about a chronic disease. However, any kind of relapse would be enough to reduce the success rates in studies like those shown above.