Is is safe to detox at home? That depends on the drug you’re withdrawing from. If it’s an opioid, amphetamine or THC, the answer is probably yes, as long as you’re otherwise healthy. If it’s alcohol, benzodiazepines or barbiturates, the answer is definitely not. These latter drugs can cause a life-threatening withdrawal reaction. It is never safe to stop these drugs on your own without medical supervision.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you will need inpatient detox treatment. Depending on your level of addiction, it may be possible to detox at home but only under expert medical supervision. Only an addiction treatment professional can tell you if you will need hospital detox or not. However, alcohol addictions of long-standing likely will. The risk of delirium tremens or DTs is typically too high. The DTs typically only occur in advanced cases of alcoholism but they can happen to anyone withdrawing from alcohol. The DTS can cause sudden high blood pressure, seizures, confusion, and shaking and can result in a heart attack, stroke and death.
Sudden withdrawal from benzodiazepines is also not safe because it can cause life-threatening grand mal seizures. If you fall unconscious from a seizure, you may aspirate your stomach contents into your lungs. This is also why you must fast before any type of surgery involving general anesthesia.
Opioid Withdrawal at Home
Although it is possible to do a detox at home from opioids, it’s not advisable. In fact, it’s a really bad idea. This is especially true for people taking high doses of strong opioids like oxycodone for long periods of time. You can bet the withdrawal symptoms will hit hard, and they’re bigger than you are. You may think you can take it, but odds are you can’t. You will probably renege and take an opioid just to stop the horrible symptoms and get relief. And you won’t be alone. This is what happens most of the time.
Typical opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Depression, anxiety and drug cravings
- Stomach pain
- Restless leg syndrome
- Extreme weakness
- Sneezing and watery eyes
- Bone and muscle pain
- Backache and headache
It’s miserable. Acute symptoms drag on for many days to weeks on end. Sub-acute symptoms like fatigue may persist for a month or more. If you do make it through withdrawal on your own, be aware that your opioid tolerance has fallen considerably. If you relapse and take the same opioid dose you did before withdrawal, you could overdose and die.
It makes much more sense to detox under medical supervision, even if you don’t medically have to. Medical detox is far, far more comfortable, and you get through it without suffering. For opioids, there is Suboxone. For most people, this drug relieves most, if not all, of the unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms. You can eat, you can sleep and you can relax and sit in comfort. If Suboxone isn’t enough, other medications can be prescribed to help you.
All you have to do is speak up and let staff know you’re not getting enough relief. It’s their job to keep you as comfortable as possible. If they do not, what good are they? You could withdraw at home in misery for free.
Under professional home detox, you should be able to go to work or school and take care of your normal responsibilities. As the detox goes on, your Suboxone dose will be gradually reduced. By the end of the detox, you will be drug and withdrawal symptom free. However, Suboxone can also be taken as a maintenance drug as part of MAT or medication-assisted treatment.
You may choose to do this if you experience overwhelming drug cravings. If this happens, you should speak up right away because you are at a very high risk of relapse.
For people withdrawing from amphetamines and related stimulants, such as methylphenidate and Adderal, there is no specific treatment. However, medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms as they occur. Benzodiazepines will calm anxiety and allow you to sleep. Other medications are also available depending on the withdrawal symptoms you have.
We Can Help
If you need information about drug detox at home or under medical supervision, we can help. Just call us anytime at833-497-3812, and allow us to help you find the best treatment options near you.