The path to freedom from drug and alcohol addiction necessarily begins with a detox from all harmful substances. Unfortunately, this can also be one of the most difficult and uncomfortable steps in the recovery process. Despite the difficult nature of detoxing, however, many people ultimately choose the “DIY” (do-it-yourself) method. At first blush, this might seem an admirable pursuit, but going “cold turkey” doesn’t have a very high success rate and can actually be extremely dangerous. Simply put, it should not be attempted.
The importance of successfully completing the detox phase of recovery cannot be overstated, and it must be done completely and correctly if there is to be any chance of success. There are many challenges to be overcome during this critical period and these are ideally managed under the care of trained professionals. Here, we take a look at the benefits of detoxing in a professional facility.
Detoxing from alcohol and certain drugs can be fatal without proper medical supervision
Detoxing at home, without medical supervision, is not only dangerous – it is potentially fatal. Alcoholics who drink four to five pints of wine, seven to eight pints of beer or one pint of liquor every day for several weeks take a huge risk when consumption is stopped abruptly. This is due to a condition called delirium tremens, which is the severest form of alcohol withdrawal. It is characterized by sudden and drastic changes in mental status or the nervous system. Symptoms typically occur between forty-eight and ninety-six hours after the last drink and include confusion, body tremors, changes in mental function, and hallucinations, just to name a few. Oftentimes, in the setting of severe withdrawal, delirium tremens is triggered by an infection, illness or head injury. The end result can be a complete collapse of the cardiovascular system, which can cause death. Sudden abstinence from certain drugs (such as benzodiazepines) can provoke seizures that are not themselves deadly, but can result in aspiration, falls and heart attacks, which can be. Avoidance of dangerous situations that can accompany abrupt withdrawal is critical and must be medically managed.
Professional detoxes can effectively provide symptom relief
While drug and alcohol withdrawal is different for each person, one thing remains constant: It is a difficult and painful process. Typical symptoms of withdrawal can include intense anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, drug cravings and mood swings, just to name a few. Professional detoxes can provide specific medical interventions designed to mitigate the discomfort associated with withdrawal. Symptom relief is a vital component when it comes to recovery and achieving it dramatically improves his or her chance of success. Do-it-yourselfers do not possess the necessary expertise or access to the appropriate medications to properly manage the wide variety of symptoms, and are therefore, unqualified to attempt it.
Professional detoxes eliminate the temptation to substitute substances
The temptation to self-medicate by substituting one dangerous substance for another in order to ease withdrawal symptoms is particularly strong in those who attempt detox at home. Needless to say, this is extremely inappropriate. An example of this would be using benzodiazepines to cope with the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, or drinking heavily to get through the process more smoothly. Predictably, this practice has the potential to create additional dangerous addictions
The chance of relapse increases if detox isn’t handled by professionals
The difficult symptoms caused by detoxing coupled with extreme drug/alcohol craving, invariably lead many people to relapse before completing the process. Unfortunately, this generally means that the individual will have to start the process all over again – from square one. Relapsing in the middle of detox is very dangerous for a number of reasons. Chief amongst these is the increased risk of overdose once tolerance to the drug has decreased. Professional detoxes provide a safe environment where the patient is closely monitored and dangerous situations can be avoided.
Everyone is different
While the Internet provides a wealth of information, the reality is that search engines are not medical professionals. Each person reacts to drug and alcohol detox differently. Therefore, researching detox and withdrawal symptoms is not a substitute for professional help. Thus, it is crucial to undergo the detox phase of recovery under professional supervision. Also, the continuous monitoring provided by nurses during this period cannot be overstated. Their role in this process is invaluable, and there is nothing that remotely approaches this level of care outside of a treatment facility.
Drug and alcohol addiction imprisons those afflicted with the disease until they break free of the bondage or lose the battle. Recovery offers the addict an opportunity to be free of this cycle and sets the stage to live happily and productively. A complete and successful detoxification from drugs and alcohol is the first crucial step to achieving long lasting recovery. Because each drug (and combination of drugs) has its own unique withdrawal syndrome, undergoing this process without medical supervision cannot be endorsed. Detox at a professional facility provides, without question, the greatest chance of laying the proper foundation on which to build a life free from addiction to drugs and alcohol.
This post is sponsored by TrueRecovery.com.