For many people, the decision to stop using drugs and alcohol is a difficult one. The next difficult decision is how to detox. You may be wondering is detoxing at home safe, or should you go to a detox facility?
Not everyone who uses drugs and alcohol will need to go to a detox facility and many individuals are able to detox at home. Depending on the type of drugs you have been using you may not need detox and some individuals are able to quit cold turkey. Also depending on the amount of drugs and alcohol you have been using and how long you have been using; you may not need to detox. Before you make a decision, you should consult with your doctor and they can tell you if you need detox, or if you can use a taper off method. Your doctor may recommend one of the replacement drug therapies available which will allow you to transition from your current drug or alcohol use, or they may recommend medical detox.
The length of time to detox will vary with substance use, but may be as short as a few days and as long as two weeks. Some individuals experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and irritability, sweating and flu like symptoms and body aches. The type of withdrawal symptoms you experience will depend on the substances used.
If you have been using drugs or alcohol for a long period of time and in large amounts, you may want to consider getting detox from either an outpatient center or from an inpatient center. Outpatient detox allows you to self report to either a clinic or to your doctor's office. Methadone clinics are the most common type of outpatient medical detox. Methadone is an opiate narcotic. Individuals report to the clinic and receive methadone which they can take and detox at home. However, most people end up taking the methadone forever because it too becomes a drug based crutch.
Individuals who report to their doctor would receive a replacement drug, such as suboxone to take and detox as home as well. Whether you take suboxone or methadone, these are long term narcotics and end up having their own withdrawal problems and overdose potential. Depending on your desired end results, taking methadone or suboxone is usually a path that leads to long term use.
Inpatient medical detox in a hospital is another alternative to detoxing at home. Hospital detox has been seen by some as a lower level of care because they place detox patients in the psychiatric unit, or place them in isolation or lockdown. This practice tends to make individuals detoxing feel like they have to go it alone. The oral medication that is used in hospital detox has also been viewed as ineffective at keeping the patient comfortable through withdrawal symptoms. Many hospitals view the discomfort as a deterrent to prevent future drug use, but it actually has had an opposite outcome. Research shows that when patients are too uncomfortable, they may not complete the detox and walk out.
Doctors agree that the best option for medical detox is IV therapy medical detox. Intravenous therapy allows the doctor to make changes to the medication protocol as your withdrawal symptoms change which will keep you comfortable and ensure that you complete the withdrawal process.
Some individuals find that they need a program, after detox, to help them keep control in their life over drugs and alcohol. St. Jude Retreats offers an educational cognitive behavioral program that teaches self evaluation and self change to guests. Our guests learn to make choices that are more productive and to form habits and behaviors that are more enriching to their life. Our guests are empowered and discover that they can have long term success without substance use.
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