If you find yourself or your loved one struggling with substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder, you might be avoiding treatment because you’re confused and apprehensive about detox and addiction treatment.
Today, we’ll show you how to detox your body from drugs safely, whether you need a medical detox program at an inpatient rehab or you plan to undergo detox at home. The more you understand about this first crucial step on the road to recovery, the less likely it will stand in your way and prevent your recovery getting traction in the first place.
Detox is the abbreviated term for detoxification, a process of purging all harmful toxins from your body, from alcohol and prescription painkillers through to illicit drugs and one of the most important steps in an addiction treatment plan.
Although every detox is slightly different, most detoxes will last from 5 to 10 days, depending on the severity of your addiction and the substance in question. Even if you are eager to launch into a treatment program, it’s vital to flush the toxins from your system before you get started with recovery proper.
By educating yourself about detoxification, you will make things easier and more comfortable during this challenging time.
If you’re still unconvinced, think of it this way: detox is the first time you’ll be clearly stating your intent to discontinue substance use. Consider detox as your first solid commitment to sustained recovery.
How to Detox Your Body from Drugs
When detox is applied to either substance abuse or alcohol abuse, it translates to the length of time required for your body to metabolize all residual toxins.
Detox has three core objectives:
- Helping you to process toxins from your body as safely and comfortably as possible
- Managing withdrawal symptoms, using tapered medication as appropriate
- Creating a firm foundation for sustained recovery
Types of Detox
Detox from drugs or alcohol can be categorized as one of two main types:
- Social detox
- Medically-assisted detox
If you are using alcohol or drugs and you want to quit, you can detox at home under certain conditions,
Unfortunately, many people think they will have the willpower and discipline to quit cold turkey at home, but putting the theory into practice is often problematic. We’ll look below at some of the dangers of home detox.
Whether you attempt social detox in a room with friends and family on hand to monitor you, or you engage with a formal support system for social detox, this can be an effective strategy for some people suffering from mild addictions to drink or drugs.
If you have a moderate or severe addiction, medically-assisted alcohol and drug detox will give you the strongest chance of moving from rehab into sustained sobriety.
Anyone chronically abusing alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs is liable to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These can be acute, and they can be managed with FDA-approved prescription medications, especially in the case of alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder – more on both of those below.
Medical detox also means you’ll be at lowered risk of complications. If anything does go amiss during detoxification, you’ll be in the right place for immediate intervention.
How to Cleanse Your Body of Drugs
The aim of detox is simple: purging your body of the residual toxins from sustained substance abuse. Putting it into practice can be tougher.
Whether you choose to undergo a social detox or a medical detox, and whether you’re at home or in a treatment center, there are certain things you can do to help streamline the process.
Eating as healthy a diet as possible and staying well hydrated will help your body recalibrate.
You should aim to get as much sleep as possible, ideally 7 to 9 hours a night. This is likely to be difficult as addiction disrupts sleep patterns, but seek to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Limit caffeine and nicotine while also minimizing stress levels.
Take care of all of these elements and you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate the stark reality of detoxification.
Detox Your Body from Prescription Drugs
The most common prescription medications calling for detox are opioids and benzodiazepines.
If you are suffering with opioid use disorder, whether from using prescription painkillers, heroin, or fentanyl, detox in a residential rehab center will make things as comfortable as possible during detox, and this will also minimize your chance of relapse. With no access to opioids in inpatient rehab, you should also limit the likelihood of overdose during detox.
The withdrawal symptoms triggered by opioids are broadly similar to those experienced during alcohol withdrawal. Fortunately, there are some FDA-approved medications for treating opioid withdrawal. These are:
- Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine reduces withdrawal symptoms without delivering an opioid high
- Naltrexone: Naltrexone blocks your brain’s opioid receptors and can help to prevent relapse
- Methadone: Methadone reduces cravings for opiates and helps to soothe withdrawal symptoms
With benzodiazepines or benzos, you can experience severe adverse withdrawal symptoms including seizures if you abruptly discontinue use. Benzo withdrawal improperly managed can be fatal.
The primary withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable they can easily lead to relapse. Some acute withdrawal symptoms linger for months.
Often, it’s possible to taper off your dosage of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, at a rate of 0.5mg every few days. This slow and gradual tapering will help you to slowly detox your body from this medication – typically used to treat anxiety disorder.
While complete abstinence is recognized as the optimum outcome, some people struggling with benzo addiction never achieve this. Rather than giving up on giving up, substitution treatment can be effective in cases when abstinence is not practical. A slow-acting medication like clonazepam is used instead of benzos. As you decrease your benzo dosage, so you increase your non-benzo dosage. This principle is also used effectively with methadone therapy for heroin use disorder.
If you’re suffering from mild alcohol use disorder, you could negotiate detox in an outpatient setting.
In the event of a moderate or severe diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) or residential rehab usually make a better fit.
You can expect most alcohol withdrawal symptoms to go within a week; however, some symptoms like depression may persist for months. If you undergo medical detox, you should be equipped with the skills you need to better negotiate these PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms).
The following medications are approved by the FDA for detox from alcohol abuse and for ongoing recovery:
- Acamprosate: Eases withdrawal symptoms
- Disulfiram: Stops an enzyme responsible for metabolizing alcohol
- Naltrexone: Blocks the opioid receptors in your brain
The Dangers of Detoxing Your Body from Drugs at Home
There are several potential dangers associated learning how to detox your body from drugs and trying an at-home detox:
- Life-threatening medical complications
- Mental health issues
- Increased risk of relapse
- Heightened risk of overdose
If you have any underlying medical conditions, these can be potentially problematic if you opt for home detox from drink or drugs.
Whether it’s an existing condition that was not diagnosed while you were in active addiction, or a previously manageable condition is inflamed by detoxing without medical assistance, be on heightened alert if you are aware of any medical issues underpinning your addiction.
Mental Health Issues
The challenges of home detox can cause you to feel side effects like fatigue, frustration, panic, depression, or anxiety.
If you have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety co-occurring with alcohol use disorder, symptoms can escalate during home detox.
Increased Risk of Relapse
One of the most serious risks associated with detoxing unsupervised at home is relapse.
If you face cravings that seem overwhelming, you may buckle if you’re not within the safe confines of a treatment center with no access to alcohol.
Heightened Risk of Alcohol Poisoning
Even though home detox from alcohol is a short process, your body chemistry starts recalibrating. Consuming a normal amount of alcohol can lead to enhanced effects. This could even result in alcohol poisoning.
It is vital to understand that trying to detox at home is incredibly dangerous and can easily lead to more complex and dangerous problems that can prove to be fatal. If you are wanting to get free from your substance use disorder, seek out medical professionals who can offer a supervised detox.
The Steps After Detoxing the Body of Drug
You should not consider detox a cure for addiction. Addiction is a disease that has no cure, but it can be treated. Detox, then, is simply the first step on a lifelong journey.
With your body substance-free, you should try steering clear of your old social circle for a while. Build new and healthier friendships, potentially with the people you meet during recovery and support group sessions. Since people and places can induce cravings for drink or drugs, mixing things up can help you avoid relapse during the challenging initial phase of recovery.
You will likely continue engaging with treatment in an outpatient setting after the detox process. If you are detoxing in a residential rehab, you’ll continue with treatment at the center.
Treatment for Addiction at The District Recovery Community
If you’re ready to leave drink or drugs behind and learn how to detox your body from drugs as you push forward with recovery, we can help you get started with a properly managed detox here at The District Recovery Community.
We utilize medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help ease your withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings as you deal with the detox portion of the recovery process.
We offer a dual diagnosis treatment program ideal for addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders simultaneously with addiction.
All you need to do to get started is call the friendly admissions team at our substance abuse treatment facility.