Short for detoxification, “detox” is a period of time where you aim to rid yourself of toxic, unhealthy substances like alcohol, opioids and heroin. Depending on your drug (or drugs) of choice, detox may be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms during detox range in severity from mild discomfort to severe pain and potentially fatal medical problems.
Unfortunately, detox is usually unpleasant because your body and mind are reacting to no longer have alcohol or drugs in your system. But, there’s good news. Your withdrawal symptoms, if you do experience them, will eventually go away. And, when they do, you’ll be one step further along your journey to recovery.
In this article, we’ll review how to know if you need a professional detox program, how to avoid cold turkey detoxes that can be dangerous to your health and what detox and withdrawal looks like for alcohol and opioids.
Do You Need Detox Help?
Whether you need professional detox help depends on a variety of factors. These factors may include your genetics, your length of addiction (or dependence), or even the specific substances from which you are attempting to detox.
For example, if you binge drink regularly and can’t seem to go without alcohol, there’s a likely chance you need a credible detox program to help you break your addiction. Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms after not drinking or taking opioids may also be an indication that you need detox help.
However, each person and each addiction is different. How one person responds to detox and withdrawal could be very different from the way you may respond. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, it’s best that you speak with an addiction treatment center to determine if you need detox.
Alcohol Addiction Detox
If you’re addicted to alcohol, simply stopping on your own isn’t a good option – even if you could. That’s because alcohol withdrawal is a potentially life-threatening condition that may induce seizures, fever, hallucinations, delirium tremens, and other serious problems.
Fortunately, supervised alcohol detox at a professional treatment center often involves the use of prescription medications to reduce the occurrence of such effects.
Minor Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms (6-12 hours after last drink)
- Shaky hands
- Mild anxiety
Delirium Tremens Symptoms (Peaking at 5 days after last drink)
- Extreme anxiety
- Excessive sweating
- High blood pressure
- Racing and irregular heartbeat
- Severe tremors
- Low-grade fever
Opioid Addiction Detox
If you’ve been taking more than your doctor prescribed, getting them from friends or buying them on the street, those are likely signs that you’re addicted. When that happens, most people need to seek help to recover safely.
But let’s say you had back surgery and have been taking Vicodin for a month to control your pain. You’ve been taking it exactly as your doctor prescribed and, yet, you’ve become physically dependent on it. You know this because if you skip a dose, the symptoms of opioid withdrawal kick in pretty quickly. You crave the pills and experience body aches, nausea and the chills. You’re agitated and in a pretty bad mood.
Do you need a detox program or can you work through the withdrawal symptoms yourself?
Cold Turkey Detoxes vs. Professional Detox for Opioid Addiction
No doctor would advise simply stopping your pain medication. Within six hours, withdrawal symptoms would kick in and last up to 10 days, putting you at risk for dehydration and unnecessary suffering.
Instead, consult your doctor and come up with a plan to slowly and safely wean yourself off of the pills. This plan might be slightly different for everyone, depending on the reason you began taking the pills and other medical conditions you might have, but most doctors will recommend you do some version of the following:
- For long-acting pain medication, you can slowly reduce the dose you are taking. For example, if you were taking your medication three times a day, reduce to twice a day for four to five days. Then, cut back to once a day for another four to five days. When you’re down to once a day, try stopping. It’s important to note that you should never cut, crush or chew this kind of medicine.
- For short-acting (immediate release) medication, the best approach is to begin increasing time between doses. If you’ve been taking it every four hours, for example, start by increasing that time to five or six hours for two days. Next, increase the time between doses to seven or eight hours. After you’ve done that, the next step is to reduce your dose. If you’ve been taking two pills, cut back to one pill for one pill for two days. If you are taking only one pill, cut it in half for one or two days and then try stopping.
While detox and withdrawal from prescription painkillers or illicit opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, oxycodone or heroin is usually not life-threatening, seeking professional help from an opioid addiction treatment center is still highly recommended.
According to the U.S. government, opioid addiction detox is so unpleasant that 95% of the people who attempt detox on their own fail to complete the process.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Craving for the drug
- Rapid breathing
- Runny nose
- Nasal stuffiness
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal cramping
- Enlarged pupills
- Loss of appetite
Detox at The Raleigh House
No matter if you’re addicted to alcohol or opioids, it’s best to consult with an addiction treatment center to determine if you need professional detox. And if detox is needed to help you recover from substance abuse, we strive to make you as comfortable and safe as possible.
If you need to detox from alcohol, we make sure you’re closely monitored the entire time to ensure your safety. We stabilize you in a safe environment with 24-hour supervision, and we use medication to ease your discomfort and dietary supplementation to speed up the recovery process.
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, we leverage Suboxone for a short period of time to help you through the opioid withdrawal process. Suboxone is a prescription medicine that contains the active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat adults who are dependent on opioids. Our team will also provide dietary supplementation to ease the withdrawal process and offer additional nutritional assistance and craving reduction during the final stages of withdrawal.
Detox and Start Your Recovery Journey at The Raleigh House
At The Raleigh House, our goal is to help you safely detox from alcohol or opioids and get those substance out of your system. Once this occurs, you’ll be in a healthier and clearer state of mind to get to the bottom of your addiction and start working towards long-lasting recovery.
To get started, fill out our form or contact us now to get in touch with one of our friendly admissions team members.