What is addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease that changes brain function and behavior. It causes compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite having harmful consequences to the addict or those around them. Drug addictions are brain diseases with abuse of drugs leading to changes in the structure and function of the brain.
The symptoms of addiction vary from drug to drug. Still, common signs include tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, cravings for more drugs, poor decision-making skills, and trouble fulfilling responsibilities at work or school.
What is detoxification, and why do people addicted to drugs detoxify their bodies?
Detoxification, sometimes called detox or cleansing, is the process of removing toxic substances from your body. The reason why addicts detoxify their bodies is to rid the body of any leftover or current substances. This process can be very dangerous if it’s not done correctly and under medical supervision, as there is a risk of serious complications.
How does the body react to detox?
After an addict stops using drugs, their bodies will immediately go through withdrawal symptoms as it attempts to readjust itself. The first few days can be very uncomfortable and dangerous if not supervised by a doctor or other healthcare professional. This process usually takes a week or two but varies from person to person depending on how long they have been addicted and what drug(s) were being used.
What is at-home detox?
At-home detox is the process of detoxing at home without medical supervision. This can be very dangerous, as it puts you at risk for complications that could lead to serious injury. It’s always recommended to have a doctor or other healthcare professional monitor the detox process. If you do not have access to a doctor, many clinics and treatment centers offer medical supervision during the withdrawal period.
Why is it so hard for addicts to get clean on their own, even with a home detox kit?
It is challenging for addicts to quit on their own, but with the proper support, it can be done. Many people think that detox kits are enough- this is not true as they do little more than mask withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawing by using these at home will still lead to severe consequences and should always be supervised by a doctor or medical professional.
The dangers of at-home detoxing
Addicts often underestimate the dangers of at-home detoxing. It is essential to understand why trying to quit without help could be dangerous and even fatal.
Some of the significant dangers to addicts at-home detoxing are:
Respiratory failure is the result of too much carbon dioxide or low oxygen in your blood. When the body is under stress, it naturally holds up carbon dioxide to conserve oxygen. This can have severe consequences if not reversed in time.
Muscle aches are a result of the body going through withdrawal. These aches can be excruciating and lead to even more severe complications if not treated properly.
If you have asthma or another lung disease, it could become worse due to your withdrawal symptoms from drugs such as opiates. If this occurs, you’ll need immediate treatment to prevent further harm.
Your body may experience diarrhea as a result of the toxins being released from your body. This can be a serious problem if not treated quickly and can lead to dehydration, which is dangerous.
Hallucinations are often an effect of not sleeping or getting enough sleep. During withdrawal, people have trouble sleeping, leading to hallucinations.
Nausea, especially vomiting, is common during withdrawal. To avoid this, make sure you stay hydrated and eat some light foods like crackers or toast to settle your stomach.
Headache is a common withdrawal symptom that may be intense for the first day or two but eventually dissipate. Headaches are often caused by not taking in enough fluids.
Dizziness is another common symptom that can be alleviated by drinking fluids and staying hydrated.
Tremors or Shakes
Although not as prominent as other symptoms, tremors during withdrawal are often seen in patients who have been drinking alcohol for a long time and abruptly stop drinking any. To avoid these shaking or trembling feelings, make sure to stay well-hydrated throughout your detox process with clean liquids.
Bone & Joint pain
Drugs such as opiates or alcohol can cause chronic pain in the bones and joints. This is worsened when quitting cold turkey because your body goes through withdrawal which causes it to overcompensate for the lack of drugs.
Drugs can cause a rapid fluctuation in a person’s weight. This is especially true in patients who have been using drugs like meth or cocaine, which reduces appetite and causes people to lose large amounts of weight.
Fatigue, also known as “being tired,” is common during withdrawal, but it doesn’t mean you should sleep your way through the process- this could lead to problems when trying to stay awake. If fatigue becomes an issue, try getting light exercise or going for walks around the house every few hours for some energy that will keep you alert throughout detoxing.
Having seizures can lead to coma or even death. Alcohol withdrawals are particularly dangerous in this regard. If you have a history of seizures, seek medical attention immediately to avoid any serious consequences.
Severe depression during detoxing
Depression is common when withdrawing from drugs or alcohol but can lead to negative thoughts that could hurt yourself or others around you. Call for help if feelings of sadness become overwhelming, and don’t be afraid to ask for medication support.
Blurry Vision is another symptom that could lead to accidents or injuries if not treated properly. During withdrawal, people often complain of blurry vision due to lack of sleep and staying up for long periods at night.
Heart attack and stroke
Poor decision-making skills often result in addicts putting themselves into situations that they shouldn’t be in. This is especially dangerous if the person has a heart condition or a history of strokes. It is essential for anyone thinking about detoxing on their own to understand these severe consequences before attempting it.
Malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances
This happens because most addicts don’t eat healthy enough while using drugs, resulting in a lack of vitamins and minerals such as potassium. Without these nutrients, the body cannot function correctly, leading to many severe symptoms, including heart problems. Electrolytes are necessary for nerve impulses throughout the entire body.
What are some signs someone is addicted to drugs?
There are many symptoms associated with drug use and addiction, including:
- Changes in behavior or habits
- Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit
- Cravings for more drugs despite adverse effects on their lives
- Trouble fulfilling responsibilities like work or school
- Lack of motivation
- And much more
The best thing for an addict who wants help quitting is to seek professional treatment from a doctor.
Some of the top signs someone may be addicted to drugs are:
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Unable to sleep without the drug
- Stays up for long periods at night
- Nausea and vomiting (especially during withdrawal)
- Sudden personality changes like becoming aggressive, anxious, moody, etc.
- Secretive behavior like hiding drugs in strange places
- Decreased energy levels throughout the day or lack thereof completely
- Lack of interest in hobbies that they once enjoyed
- Restless leg syndrome
- Mood swings/changes in attitude around others
- Unusual smells on breath, body, clothing, hair
- Fidgeting hands constantly even when not doing anything else
- Loss of coordination or slurred speech
Why you should consult your doctor before trying to detox on your own.
You should always consult your doctor about detoxing before trying to do it yourself. You may be tempted to try at-home detox kits, but these are not enough by themselves, and you could still face serious consequences. In addition, you should never try to detox without medical supervision since you may have underlying medical problems that aren’t visible and need to be monitored.
The advantages of consulting your doctor are:
- They know your medical history and what you can handle
- You will be under observation for safety reasons if anything goes wrong
- It is the safest way to detox because there are medications that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings too
- Your doctor may even prescribe an antidepressant during this time as well. This medication helps reduce drug cravings by increasing serotonin production within the brain, making it easier to stay away from drugs. Doctors usually recommend a combination of both counseling (to address underlying issues) and antidepressants such as Paxil or Lexapro after completing medical detoxification. These types of medications aren’t just used during detox, but they’re continued long-term to prevent relapse into addiction again down the road.
Several medications can be used during detoxes, such as Buprenorphine/Naltrexone, Suboxone, buprenorphine (which comes in pill form), and others.
Some common types of detox medications:
This medication is typically used to relieve nerve pain but can also help with mood swings and anxiety.
Another benzodiazepine that helps treat seizures, panic disorders, etc.
This drug works by increasing GABA production in the brain, which relieves depression and reduces cravings for drugs. It’s good for doctors to prescribe this during medical detoxification because it has many different uses.
Buprenorphine/Naltrexone is a strong narcotic used to treat heroin addiction and painkiller addictions like Oxycontin. It works by binding to the opioid receptors within the brain, which prevents other opioids from binding there, too- this helps reduce withdrawal symptoms but doesn’t eliminate them. Buprenorphine/Naltrexone also has a longer half-life compared to many opioids, which means it stays in your system for much longer before being metabolized out of it again. This medication can be administered either orally or intravenously, depending on how severe someone’s drug abuse was over time.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that counteracts the effects of other opioids like morphine, heroin, Oxycodone, etc. It works by blocking drugs from attaching to receptors within the brain and essentially kicking them out so they won’t affect them anymore. Naloxone has a short half-life (meaning it will leave your system rather quickly) compared to Buprenorphine/Naltrexone which allows for quick response time if someone overdoses on certain narcotics again down the road- this medication can be given through injections or nasal sprays, too, just like Naloxone.
Clonidine is another medication that’s used during detoxification. It has a calming effect for individuals and helps reduce cravings, which is usually prescribed along with antidepressants like Zoloft if the withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to warrant additional help through medications.
*It should be noted that all these types of medications are given under medical supervision- they’re not meant to be taken daily by people who aren’t addicts because there can still be side effects over time even though they work great in the short term. They also don’t treat underlying issues associated with addiction or mental health problems either (which often go hand-in-hand together) without proper therapy. So you must see your doctor before detoxing at home to make sure everything goes smoothly.
What should you expect from actual medical detoxification?
You will receive prescriptions for any medication needed throughout the process, along with regular visits to your doctor so they can monitor how things are going. It may take some time before being completely free of withdrawal symptoms, but it’s worth not having to go through them on your own without professional help. Depending on what type of addiction you have and what substances you regularly use, you might have counseling sessions.
Everyone has different reasons for wanting to detox at home without medical supervision. The only way to find out which treatment options work best for YOU is by talking with a doctor or therapist about your unique situation before making any assumptions that this sort of approach will be the solution. If you’re still unsure, it’s better left up to professionals regardless because they know how severe (or not harsh) your addiction was over time and can make sure there aren’t any underlying mental health problems like depression, anxiety, etc. You shouldn’t go through this alone whether or not someone wants you around- it should be appropriately done under professional care, so everything goes smoothly and safely in the end.
How to safely detox from drugs
You should only detox at home if you have no underlying medical conditions that could worsen during withdrawal and you didn’t have any significant addiction. If this is the case, follow these tips to help reduce your chances of problems.
Tips to safely detox from drugs:
- Be willing to go through some withdrawal symptoms even though there are medical treatments available; they’re not meant to eliminate every symptom that could come up during detoxification but rather make them more manageable on their own at home (if needed). You may still experience some discomfort or pain depending on how long you were using drugs before quitting, but this is normal as long as you don’t let it get out of control by seeing a therapist instead who can prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help you deal with these symptoms more safely.
- Don’t pressure yourself into thinking there’s a quick fix for addiction- detoxing at home should only be done if it makes sense and feels right given your situation. It might take some time to feel good again after quitting, but this process will happen as long as you stay away from drugs in the future and follow professional advice about how to do so successfully.
- Be aware of any psychological, emotional, and physical withdrawal symptoms that might happen- the doctor should tell you about this ahead of time if it’s an option for you to detox at home.
- Always have a family member or friend around if there are problems with your health midway through recovery- medical staff can monitor how things are going throughout the process even though they’re not physically present.
- Keep yourself busy as much as possible during recovery because boredom makes people want to use again more often than not. Keeping occupied will help keep those cravings away until everything is done successfully without relapse risks.
- Make sure you’re taking the proper medications.
- Do not take any other drugs or medication (even if it’s over-the-counter) without talking to your doctor first because they could react with detox meds and cause complications too.
- Try to avoid alcohol while going through withdrawal so you can get better results overall during detoxification.
- Eating a well-balanced diet is also essential for healthy, sustained energy levels throughout this process, especially if your appetite shrinks when you don’t eat enough food.
- Avoid processed sugars as much as possible, though, since these are empty calories that won’t give you lasting sustenance either.
- You should also always stay hydrated by drinking lots of water every day, even before the cravings start up again
- It’s best to taper off certain substances instead of stopping them entirely all at once, so set up a schedule ahead of time (with your doctor) for getting rid of them gradually over time rather than quitting cold turkey. This helps prevent severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings from happening again but shouldn’t be done without supervision by someone who knows what to do/watch for along the way either.
Detox can be a safe process in the right circumstances and with proper supervision along the way by trained medical professionals. You shouldn’t attempt it at home unless you have no underlying health issues that could worsen during withdrawal or you’ve tapered off drugs already under doctor’s orders instead of stopping completely cold turkey. We hope this article has been helpful and wish you the best of luck during detoxification. If you’re looking for professional advice to overcome your addiction, feel free to contact us here. We’d love to help you find the best detox solution.