Why is detoxing alone not enough?

Detoxing is when you are taken away from a substance that you and your body might be physically addicted too. For example, a certain type of drug such as heroin or this can be an option for alcohol too. It is technically your body withdrawing from a certain substance.

A detox is a medically supervised way of coming off a certain drug or alcohol in a safe way.

When you go through a detox it is not treating the mental condition of addiction. It is just removing the substance in a safe way from your body.

When looking at detoxing you might not need to detox from certain drugs. The only drugs which you can detox from are anything that is opiate or alcohol. Any other drugs which you may feel you need a detox from it is usually just you needing to detox from the obsession to take the substance rather than having a physical withdrawal.

The timeframe for detox’s varies. It depends on different factors. The first one being what is the substance that you are withdrawing from? It also depends on how much of the drug you are taking and/or how much alcohol you are consuming regularly. It is ultimately up to a doctor to assess you and decide what is best for you and your needs.

However, on average an alcohol detox can vary from seven to 14 days to safely remove the alcohol from your system.

Heroin detox’s can vary from 14 to 21 days. This type of detox is a gradual process which removes the substance from your body. The detox is giving you a replacement to remove the substance slowly and safely.

When you go onto a detox you are initially assessed. Some assessments look at your substance intake. They will look at what drugs or alcohol you are taking. As well as this they will often look at your patterns of using drugs or alcohol; is it every day? Or is It binging on the weekend? All of these factors will be taken into consideration when you are going through the initial assessment.

All of this information is then passed on to a doctors or medical professional to decide what type of medication you need to get you off that drug or drink safely.

A home detox is a detox where sometimes GP’s (although they often don’t anymore because they have seen patterns of people drinking again) supply the individual with the correct medication to detox at home.

If the home detox is organised by the GP, often a loved one will be trying to help you go through the detox. This could be by supplying the medication and making sure that the individual is doing okay throughout.

If the home detox isn’t decided by a GP by privately, this will mean that the individual will pay for healthcare staff to go to their home to administer the correct medication. They will also make sure that you are doing okay throughout the process.

Home detox’s have become more popular because of a range of factors some of which are listed below:

  • Home comforts – you are in your own environment, you don’t have to leave your own ‘safe zone’
  • Addiction stigma – If you do it at home no one has to know about your addiction, no one has to know about what is going on
  • Convenience – Some people suffering with addiction can still work and attempt to function in society. For example, trying to run a home and a business

When looking at how successful a home detox is, it ultimately depends on the individual.

Some people struggling with addiction have said they it didn’t work for them because it was ‘too easy’ to start using or drinking again.

On the other hand, if an individual has the discipline and willingness to go and seek recovery in the fellowships to continue the programme, they could be successful.

The mindset of many people suffering with addiction is that they only need the detox and not the addiction treatment after. In this case a home detox is often not the best option for someone in need of support.

If you detox in a rehab facility the rate of success is much higher. You are receiving a detox in a safe way with constant support. You are also getting addiction treatment to get to the root of the mental condition. You are also being removed from your daily life. This is a massive factor when looking at recovery success. By removing an individual from their environment, where they may be triggered to use drugs or alcohol by many surrounding factors, going into a rehabilitation facility takes those triggers away.

There are often lots of consequences to someone having an addiction. For example:

  • Financial elements
  • Family disputes
  • Situations with other addicts
  • Possible problems with the law

When considering all of these factors by being in a rehab facility it is often the best option. When an individual first goes into detox treatment, you are at your most vulnerable. When someone is in that state physically and mentally it is best to have a support network around to help guide the individual to recovery.

People often question when they need a detox. It can vary in different people. However, the most common answer is that if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking your drug or choice or alcohol. It is also when you take that drug or consume that drink you automatically feel better or a sense of relief. It is ultimately you having a dependence on that substance for physical and mental benefits.

This is a common question that people ask when looking at detox treatment. The detox itself doesn’t require a specific diet. However, when coming off substances the stomach is usually very delicate. Often individuals detoxing struggling to digest and eat certain food for the first few days. Usually, the substance consumption has affected the digestive system and the stomach lining. You may lose your appetite when going through detox. Throughout a lot of rehab programmes learning to create and build a healthy relationship with food again is an important step. But ultimately going into a detox doesn’t affect the food you eat.

When assessing the difference between alcohol and drug detox’s, many people don’t realise how serious withdrawing from alcohol is. It is very dangerous, more so than drug detoxing. It can be life-threatening if you try to detox from alcohol alone. It is important if you are considering an alcohol detox that you get help from a facility that will offer you the right tools and support for you to detox safely.

Individuals who are suffering from addiction often have a misconception of what a detox is and how it works. A lot of people suffering will tell themselves at some point in their life that all they need to do is detox to be successful in recovery. This isn’t the case. Once someone becomes physically addicted to a substance the immediate thoughts are that you just need to stop using and come off that substance. Although this is part of the journey into recovery, it isn’t enough on its own. The substance of choice is just a solution the substance of choice isn’t the problem. Addiction is a mental health condition. It is centred in the mind therefore by just removing the substance you are not dealing with the addiction underneath. It is just removing the substance of choice. There is no treatment for addiction which will help you on your journey to full recovery.

Often some people who are suffering with addiction will try to do multiple detox’s on their own. These are often unsuccessful in sustaining recovery. They might work to get off the substance of choice but it doesn’t help you to continue to stay off it. These patterns demonstrate how detoxing on its own is not enough.

The types of withdrawal symptoms individuals may experience from drugs or alcohol vary. This depends on the type of drug or alcohol as well as how long you have been using these substances. The method of consuming this particular substance and your general mental and physical state.

For example, for opiate drugs like heroin, you may experience severe flu-like symptoms. These could include both physical and mental symptoms.

Some physical symptoms are mentioned below:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • High temperature and/or chills
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Restlessness
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking and shivering

There are also mental health symptoms some of which are mentioned below:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Paranoia
  4. Insomnia
  5. Panic attacks
  6. Confusion
  7. Irritability and agitation
  8. Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  9. Intense cravings for the drug
  10. Short-term memory loss

Whereas with alcohol, you may experience something called ‘Delirium Tremens’ (DTs). These are the most severe withdrawal symptoms. This is where you can experience shaking and shivering a long with other symptoms. These could include:

  1. Rapid heart rate
  2. Elevated body temperature
  3. Extreme confusion
  4. Uncontrollable shaking/shivering
  5. Visual and/or auditory hallucinations
  6. Seizures

This withdrawal can also result in death in severe cases.

People suffering with drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms are often fuelled with anxiety and are ultimately scared of detox. This is why it is vital to detox in a safe environment with constant support around you.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction and want to find out more about safe detoxing; do not hesitate to ring our specialist team. They are here to help you get the support you need to be successful in recovery. The team will be happy to answer any questions or queries you may have. They will be able to advise you on your options and talk you through the process. We want to help you.