What to Avoid Doing When Helping Someone Detox

For some people, recovery from drug and alcohol misuse begins with the detoxification process — often referred to simply as detox. Depending on a number of factors, including what substances of an abuse a person was using and for how long, some people may need to undergo detox in a supervised setting such as a Tampa Bay drug and alcohol rehab. In a managed detox environment, addiction treatment specialists can help the person get to a level of stabilization that prepares them for the next phase of treatment.

For people who want to know how to support their loved one on their recovery journey, there are things that you should avoid doing. Our guide will provide tips to support your loved one through the detox process and support their ongoing recovery efforts.

Reasons to Avoid Home Remedies

There are several substances of abuse that can cause uncomfortable symptoms when a person tries to cut back or stop using them altogether. This is referred to as withdrawal. In some cases, the effects can be so debilitating that a person will start using substances again, in order to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Supervised detox — whether an inpatient rehab facility or outpatient rehab setting — can help people manage these symptoms in a safe and controlled way.

Additionally, there are some substances — alcohol, opioids, and sedatives —  that can pose health risks if individuals attempt to detox on their own at home, without medical supervision. Many people who attempt to detox at home try to stop taking drugs suddenly, or “cold turkey.” For certain substances of abuse, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, this can put the body into shock and trigger life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

There are other reasons to avoid at-home detox attempts, such as:

  • The risk of relapse is high. Some individuals may feel that the only way to manage the discomfort associated with withdrawal is to use again, relapse is likely if professional support isn’t available to mitigate it.
  • Co-occuring disorders. Mental health concerns, like depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions can exacerbate substance misuse. Conversely, mental illness symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia may heighten during detox. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), anxiety and depression represent the most common mental health disorders that can accompany addiction. In medical detox, the client will receive medical support to manage these issues.
  • Serious medical complications are possible. Chronic medical issues can emerge during drug or alcohol use that may have been undiagnosed. Potential complications may include shock, respiratory deficiency, cardiac emergencies, seizures, and other medical situations that cannot be handled or resolved outside of a medical setting.

It’s important for medical and psychiatric professionals to be on hand during detox to continuously monitor the individual. These professionals can provide medication and therapy to stabilize the person and guide them toward the next phase of recovery.

Additional Concern for Home Detox Remedies

The National Institute of Drug Abuse details how to treat an individual suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. These principles outline various practical approaches to treating the disease, and one of the principles is that treatment should be readily available at all times; otherwise, withdrawal complications could prove fatal in some instances.

For instance, the potential for hidden medical issues, such as liver damage or dangerous fluctuations in blood pressure, may go unrecognized by a person who is not properly trained in addiction treatment or health management. While it can be tempting to use home remedies in an effort to help a loved one struggling with addiction detox, at-home attempts are not the answer.

The principles outlined in the NIDA publication indicate that treatment for an individual struggling with substance addiction should be handled professionally for a variety of important reasons, including:

  • Addiction is a complex disease, and some drugs can cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop using drugs or alcohol. Proper treatment is required over the long-term because the risk of relapse exists even after one stops using the substance.
  • Addiction treatment should be tailored to the individual’s circumstances, needs, and treatment goals. Factors such as substance of abuse, length of addiction, and willingness to undergo treatment must be considered. Outpatient or inpatient treatment settings, intervention strategies, and treatment services may vary based on the person’s condition and recovery needs.
  • The time period one is in treatment is a major consideration. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that participating in one or more forms of treatment for an adequate period of time is critical. For many people, that means 90 days or more
  • Many individuals require medication, such as naltrexone or buprenorphine, especially when recovering from addiction to heroin or other opioids. These medications  — and their continued effectiveness in the treatment plan — need to be monitored by a healthcare professional.
  • A treatment plan should be continuously assessed and modified based on the person’s needs throughout the course of treatment. Different medical services, medications, therapies, and social or legal services may be required over time.

Medical Detox Determines the Level of Care Needed

If you are not familiar with the established protocols for helping an individual detox, it is best to avoid providing care that might be ineffective or harmful. Avoiding home detox remedies can set an individual struggling with addiction on a better path. The serious consequences of drug use should be managed in a professional setting. Physicians, nurses, and psychologists are equipped to address challenging symptoms and complications during the detox stage, and help manage symptoms as they arise.

You can help your loved one prepare for the detox process by researching levels of care, finding out about how to pay for addiction treatment, and For more information about addiction treatment in the Tampa Bay area, please reach out to our knowledgable and caring admissions navigators at .

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