Detoxing from drugs or alcohol is often the most intense part of recovering from addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful and even dangerous. Despite this, many people try to detox on their own, either unaware of the danger or confident that the instructions they read on the internet will get them through it. Even if you ultimately decide to detox on your own, it’s always a good idea to get medical advice before starting. Your doctor can advise you on how to do it safely or if you need medical detox. This is especially important if you are addicted to benzodiazepines or barbiturates, which typically have to be tapered down over weeks or months to avoid serious problems like seizures, psychosis, or even death. Otherwise, here are some indications that medical detox will probably be a good idea for you.
If you’re a heavy drinker
Severe alcohol withdrawal, or DTs, is no joke, often resulting in hallucinations, seizures, dehydration, abnormal heart rhythms, and even death. Predicting who will get DTs is difficult. Risk increases depending on how much you drink and for how long. Drinking 25 drinks per day for about a week, for example, can create a significant risk of DT’s. When alcohol consumption is maintained for longer periods of time, less daily alcohol consumption is required to pose a serious threat of experiencing DT’s. Two months of consuming about 12 drinks daily, as opposed to 25, can result in serious alcohol withdrawals. DTs can come on suddenly or after a few days of mild withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes they start as late as a week after the last drink. Detoxing in a medical facility reduces the risk of seizures, dehydration, hallucinations, and other potentially fatal symptoms occurring as a result of DT’s.
If You’ve Had a Difficult Detox Before
Many people detoxing from drugs and/or alcohol have at least tried to do it previously. If you’ve had a difficult detox experience in the past, it may be a good idea to look into medical detox as you are likely to have a difficult experience again. People who have had seizures detoxing from alcohol prior are more likely to have them again in the future, even in the case of relatively mild withdrawal. Additionally, detox can be a major barrier to recovery. People often get a few days in, decide their withdrawal symptoms are intolerable and start drinking and/or using again. Medical detox increases the chances that you will get through the roughest part and successfully begin your recovery journey.
If You’re Detoxing From Opioids
Many people give up after a few days of withdrawals. This is especially common in people detoxing from opioids. Opioid withdrawal is extremely unpleasant when compared to withdrawal from other substances. The experience is often described as the worst flu you’ve ever had. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweating, aches, and insomnia. Although opioid withdrawal is miserable, it’s rarely dangerous. However, there have been fatal cases due to dehydration. Detoxing from opioids in a medical facility makes the process as comfortable as possible and increases the likelihood that you will follow it through to the end.
Detoxing is never fun but it’s a necessary evil. You can’t begin recovery until you stop drinking and/or using drugs and it’s going to take your body time to adjust to these changes no matter what. If detoxing in a facility is an option for you, it may be best to go for it. At Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon, we know that detox is only the beginning. We help men with substance use issues build long-term recovery. To learn more about our holistic treatment program, call us today at (503) 850-2474