While some people choose to wean away from drugs on their own at home, avoiding inpatient programs in favor of the empowerment that comes from doing something all alone without the help of others, there are many good reasons to enroll in a formal drug detox program that is supervised by consulting physicians. Here are just five of those reasons.
1. Withdrawal Can Be Dangerous.
Drugs can seem temporary, providing a short burst of sensation that seems to fade away to nothingness almost immediately, but the changes that drugs cause within the chemical pathways of the brain can be persistent, and in some cases, those changes can lead to life-threatening complications. People who take benzodiazepine medications, for example, can develop seizures if they attempt to stop taking those drugs abruptly, and according to an article published in the Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, seizures can take place in people who have been taking drugs at only therapeutic doses. In other words, people who abuse high levels of these drugs aren’t the only ones who are at risk. People who take lower doses might also face difficulties. Medications can help with these problems, but people might not have access to medications if they’re at home and far away from medical help.
Drugs that don’t cause overt chemical changes in the brain that can lead to withdrawal seizures can still do physical damage and cause medical problems, such as:
- Heart damage
- Kidney disease
- Blood pressure disorders
- Underlying mental illnesses
When people in poor physical or mental health attempt to stop taking addictive drugs, they could see their underlying conditions spring into life, and they could need medical assistance in order to feel at ease. This might be hard for people to attain at home, but in a detox program, consulting medical staff members will be on hand to deal with problems like this.
2. Relapse Can Quickly Follow Withdrawal.
In a formal drug detox program, people are provided with information about the nature of rehab programs, and they might even be physically escorted to a rehab program when their detox program is complete. The chances that they’ll lapse back into drug use during this dangerous time might be lessened, as they’ll be surrounded by the culture of sobriety.
When the withdrawal process is complete, people will have no active drugs remaining in their bodies, but they might still be filled with cravings for drugs. A study conducted on rats in China suggests that addiction cues caused by the environment can lead to addictive behaviors, as addicted rats tended to respond to environmental cues with drug use when they were presented with that information in the weeks following detox. Interestingly, the cues became less effective the longer the rats stayed sober. Studies like this seem to suggest that addiction-related cravings abate with time, but that the period right after withdrawal is a vulnerable time for addicted people, and a return to drug use might soon drug use cessation.
3. Cravings May Not Respond to Home Treatments.
Characters in movies and television programs prepare for at-home drug use cessation by buying soft foods, stocking up on alcohol, and laying out plenty of towels and clean sheets. These characters may twist and turn during their withdrawal scenes, but just moments later, they seem to emerge looking fresh and ready for what comes next. People who attempt to follow these instructions at home may find that getting through the process without help is much more difficult than it might seem. Cravings for drugs don’t abate with soft foods, and other symptoms that crop up during withdrawal are also hard to dislodge with DIY methods.
An example might make this concept a bit easier to understand. In the journal American Family Physician, authors report that people who are withdrawing from stimulants like cocaine can develop significant irritability, along with persistent feelings of depression. These symptoms, authors say, can be amended with a tapering dose of medication that starts high in the early stages of withdrawal and becomes less and less strong as the process moves forward. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to do this at home with over-the-counter medications, but detox facilities could handle this quite easily.
4. Education Can Soothe Distress.
Withdrawal symptoms can seem endless, and it can be difficult for people to know how long they’ll be expected to live with the discomfort. Those in the depths of withdrawal may not feel well enough to hop on the Internet to do their own research, and they may not know anyone else who has been through the process that could provide meaningful help. It can be easy to slide back into drug use when the symptoms seem to be growing with no relief in sight.
In a detox program, people have access to a significant amount of educational tools. They’ll learn what symptoms are common during withdrawal from their addictions, and they’ll learn how long those symptoms usually last. This educational component will be important as they continue to learn how to manage their addictions, and in the detox program, education can keep people from sliding back into drug abuse. It can be one of the greatest benefits of an inpatient drug detox program; with education, people might feel more willing to see the process through to the end.
5. Dealing With Necessities Can Be Difficult.
People who go through withdrawal at home must continue to handle the basics of daily living, and that can be hard for some people to handle. For example, a study in PLOS ONE found that people in withdrawal from cannabis experienced significant disruptions in their ability to handle daily life, and they developed a variety of symptoms, including:
Symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal
- Difficulty with sleep
- Lack of appetite
- Physical tension
- Mood swings
In a detox program, people will have access to a team of professionals who can cook nutritious meals, do the laundry, deliver the mail and otherwise handle all the details a person is expected to deal with during the course of a day. A person in a program like this can simply focus on getting better, instead of trying to keep a household running. People who continue to live at home while withdrawing might find that they need to suppress their symptoms and move forward with all of their tasks, and this might be so difficult that a return to drug use is almost inevitable.
Making the Choice
In the end, simply deciding to stop using drugs is the most important thing a person can do, and whether a person chooses to start that journey at home or in a formal drug detox program is a personal decision. There are very good reasons to accept the help a formal program can provide, however, and there are many reputable detox programs that are willing to step in and deliver that help. We provide a program just like this.
Our drug detox program at The Oaks at La Paloma links people in need with consulting medical staff members who can help them, and the services are provided in a comfortable and safe setting. When detox is over, clients proceed directly to the rehab program, where they begin working on changing their habits and maintaining their sobriety for life. If you’d like to know more about our program or you’d like to enroll in our care, please call our toll-free line. We have trained counselors waiting for your call.