Detoxing is a crucial part of the treatment and recovery process. The process can often seem daunting. While detoxing can lead to dangerous symptoms and possibly life-threatening conditions, when it is done safely the risks are significantly lowered. However, some people who are suffering from addiction may assume that detoxing at home is a great alternative. While it is an option, it is not one that should be considered under any circumstances due to the dangers involved.
How Addiction Affects Your Brain
Addiction is a powerful and chronic brain disease, affecting millions of Americans nationwide. Our brains control every decision that we make and every action we take. The brain controls basic skills, as well as our most complex functions. When drugs or alcohol enters the body, it directly affects our brain. More specifically, this actually activates your brain’s reward system. This system, also known as the limbic system, is responsible for how you interpret pleasure.
Since drugs and alcohol are not part of your body’s chemistry and are not naturally found in the body, your reward system shoots up to abnormal levels. Dopamine, which our brain releases if we are experiencing something good for us, levels skyrocket. This means that anything you engage in which normally and naturally gives you pleasure will no longer be able to compete with this feeling. Drugs and alcohol have now taken precedence. Thus, an addiction has now formed. Your brain will now seek out this same feeling compulsively, causing you to seek more and more of the drug.
Detoxing and Withdrawal
When someone enters a detox program or ceases use of drugs or alcohol at home, they will go through withdrawal. It is impossible for someone who has experienced addiction to not go through the withdrawal phase. This is because your brain has become adjusted to the feelings associated with drugs or alcohol. The symptoms surrounding withdrawal often vary, depending on different factors. It could depend on the person’s medical history, medications they are on, and what they are addicted to. How long the withdrawal lasts could also depend on how long the person experienced addiction.
There is considered to be two main stages of withdrawal. The first stage a person will go through after ceasing drugs or alcohol is called the acute stage. This stage normally lasts a few days to a few weeks. The acute stage is primarily known for people experiencing more of the physical symptoms associated with withdrawal. However, this is not the case for every person, as each body is different. The second stage of withdrawal is known as PAWS or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. This stage is known for having more emotional and psychological symptoms, some of which may persist for years. Symptoms can change rapidly and without warning. Without proper monitoring, symptoms could lead to death.
How Dangerous is Detoxing at Home?
Someone who is experiencing active addiction must just assume that stopping use will help solve their problems. However, this is far from true. While someone can physically stop, their brain chemistry has been altered. Without the support, medications, and therapy associated with a professional treatment center, the potential for an uncomfortable experience is high. Besides being uncomfortable, a detox at home could result in relapse and death. Recovering from an addiction is not just ceasing use, as there are many layers that must be treated.
Symptoms associated with detox vary and depend on various factors. These factors include the length of addiction, prior medical history, and which drug. Alcohol detox can include anxiety, sweating, insomnia, and headaches. Those who have struggled with alcoholism for years may experience more severe detox symptoms. These include seizures, hallucinations, and tremors. Opiate withdrawal symptoms can include muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea, and high blood pressure. Although some of these symptoms seem to be mild and manageable, they can all lead to serious problems if not overseen. For example, sweating and diarrhea may seem like mild symptoms. However, they could actually lead to dehydration and a possible comatose state. Besides the physical symptoms, which could lead to death, there could also be emotional issues associated with withdrawal.
When someone is experiencing withdrawal, they could be going through a variety of different feelings. These feelings could be due to the detox phase, but could also be underlying mental health disorders or newly surfaced feelings. Withdrawal symptoms during detox can really take a toll on the mind, especially during this fragile phase of recovery. It is important that someone suffering from an addiction has the support and care they need in order to make it through the withdrawal symptoms successfully. Unfortunately, unmonitored withdrawal symptoms can lead to mental health issues or relapse.
The Dangers of Detoxing Alone
Once an addiction has formed, your body has become dependent. Taking away what your body is dependent on can be very dangerous. Doing this alone can prove to be deadly. When withdrawal symptoms begin to surface, your body may go into a shock and may not know how to react. Your kidneys may be functioning at a slower rate, as well as your liver. You may experience intense cravings during this time, which could lead to a fast relapse. This fast relapse could cause you to overdose.
Without someone monitoring you during this phase of recovery, your risk level for possible complications is heightened. While attempting to detox alone is dangerous, you should also not detox with someone who is not educated on addiction. Detoxing in an environment with a trained medical professional is the safest option.
Find a Professional Treatment Center
Detoxing at a treatment center provides you with many benefits, without all the risks associated with detoxing from home. Detox can be a painful, confusing, and complicated process. However, it is the first step towards a successful treatment and a crucial stage in the recovery process. Besides having the ability to detect any emergencies that might result from detoxing, those supervising your detox will also be able to help manage your symptoms.
Arizona Addiction Recovery Center has dedicated and trained medical personnel for every stage in the recovery process. Their professionals will create an individualized plan for treatment that will set you up for success. They focus not only on the addiction but also in every facet of your life. Their detox program allows their patients to receive physical and psychological evaluations, as well as support. Withdrawal symptom management is also in place, to help make the process as comfortable as possible. Call today to start the detox process!
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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.