Is At-Home Detox Right for You?
In an at-home detox process, people with an addiction handle any symptoms of withdrawal as they appear, while they continue to live at home. It could be the right choice for people who are addicted to drugs that cause mild-to-moderate symptoms of withdrawal during recovery. For example, the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that withdrawal symptoms attributed to opiates are uncomfortable, but they are not life-threatening. Most symptoms have passed within about a week. That being said, opiate withdrawal comes with severe cravings, so medical detox is often recommended.
For milder cases of addiction, uncomfortable symptoms like nausea, constipation, and sweating could be easily handled in an at-home situation with remedies like:
- Cool baths
- Clean sheets
- Over-the-counter medications
- Nutritional support
They may not require the big guns of medical monitoring and prescription assistance. They can be handled effectively at home.
But even when physical symptoms are not overwhelming, withdrawal can come with some severe cravings and psychiatric distress. People in withdrawal may feel as though they need drugs, right now, and they may need family support to get them through those cravings. Some people have that family support at home. If they do, they can lean on it during at-home withdrawal.
Similarly, some people have what clinicians call “distress tolerance.” This means they have the ability to accept the difficulties that happen to them without feeling the need to act upon them. For example, in a study in the journal Eating Behaviors, researchers report that people who tend to recover from eating difficulties have the ability to accept and manage difficulties. People who were higher on clinical scores were not able to do that. Instead, they tried to avoid what came.
People who choose an at-home detox will need the ability to deal with difficulties as they arise, because they will arise as detox moves forward. It will be part of the healing process.
It might be easier to deal with the distress if the addiction is new. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse points out, it takes time to develop an addiction. These issues do not develop overnight. People must move from experimenting with drugs, to using them often, to feeling unable to stop using them. The sooner a person intervenes in this process, the easier recovery might be, and that means the easier the detox process might be. Those who are new to drug use might find it easier to withdraw at home, simply because they do not have years of abuse behind them.
For those who do choose at-home detox, there is quite a bit of preparation involved. People will need to surround themselves with supervisors and supporters, and they will need to break ties with dealers and bad influences. Next, people will need to stock up on the medications and other tools they might need to stay comfortable during the transition. They will need to choose a spot for the detox that is safe, secure, and comfortable. It can take time to plan, and while costs are minimal, the stakes are high. There is no one to take responsibility if things go wrong.