When is Medical Detox Necessary?

Detoxing from alcohol is tough, but it's the first step to recovery and a life free of addiction. Medically supervised detoxification is usually the best option, but there are times when at-home detox may be appropriate. If you are ready to give up drugs or alcohol for good, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Never attempt to detox at home without talking to your health care provider first. For most people, detox presents a number of unpleasant symptoms that occur in the first few days. They may include headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nightmares, insomnia, depression, anxiety, shaking, fever and sweating. Some people may experience elevated blood pressure. These symptoms may be mild or severe.
  • Detox can result in dangerous and life-threatening symptoms, including seizures, vomiting to the point of severe dehydration, choking, high fever, delirium tremens, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations. In severe cases, stroke, heart attack and death can occur.
  • Withdrawal symptoms usually appear within eight hours and peak within two to three days, although some may continue as long as two weeks. Cravings and less severe symptoms such as insomnia and headaches may continue up to a year.
  • If you decide to detox at home, be sure you have a reliable, stable support system, and that at least one person will be with you 24 hours per day. The person can provide emotional and psychological support and can call for help if the need arises.
  • Medical detox, which provides around-the-clock medical care, is usually the best option for extremely heavy drinkers. It is also best for people who have other health problems, those who have experienced severe withdrawal symptoms in the past, or those who have been unsuccessful in prior attempts to stop drinking.

Most medical detox facilities will provide additional services that will help you get on the right track, including a thorough medical evaluation and nutritional assessment. Medications are often available at medical detox facilities. These medications, which are prescribed by a physician, can minimize severe symptoms. In some cases, supplements such as vitamin B1 can help ease the discomfort of withdrawal. If your physician thinks that at-home detox is appropriate for you, he may be able to prescribe medications that will make the process more comfortable
  • 7 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I think medical detox is smart, but consulting with a professional is a good idea. For some people, at home detox may work if supervised and of course it depends on what they are addicted to.  Great information!
  • I agree that a professional should be utilized when trying to detox. Many people have the misconception that detoxing is simply taking something out of the body when really it also can cause some serious withdrawal symptoms, which can be really bad (e.g. your example of seizures). Thank you for sharing this.
  • Ditto what the above posters have said....especially for alchohol detox. I was in the psych hospital once for other reasons and a guy died there from detoxing off alchohol. They weren't equipped to monitor him medically and he just stopped breathing during the night.
  • I have been a HEAVY drinker for a long time and want to detox but can't find an affordable place to detox . Anxiety level is high right now just need to try and relax But running out of options and getting scared
  • Most of my "detox"  sessions were self administered, mostly because I was too ashamed to show my face and deal with the world. Wound up just drinking water and eating very plain food for a few weeks as I hid away. Probably not the healthiest as my caloric intake was really low and not very rich.
  • @igasmurfa were you successful in your detoxing? wow, to do it on your own would be rough, but sounds like you were determined.
  • All of advice is sensible. Unfortunately many people choose to attempt detoxing on their own and they end up doing more harm than good, perhaps even convincing themselves they're never going to manage to go all the way and thus sabotaging their own success.
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