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Is it safe for home detox for opiate/opioid withdrawal?
The term “home detox” refers to tapering off from a dependent substance on your own at home – or even quitting cold-turkey on your own – instead of at an inpatient medical detox facility.
There are several problems with detoxing at home which can make it risky at best. If these problems are dealt with properly, you can make a home detox a little safer.
We aren’t saying “safe,” we’re saying “safer.”
Home detox for opiate/opioid, alone, always presents risk – usually more risk than many people should even try to handle.
And when it comes to opiate/opioid withdrawal – like prescription painkillers and street heroin – you’re entering a realm of suffering that can be insurmountable without experienced help to manage those symptoms.
So read on, and then think long and hard before making the decision to detox alone at home.
(At one time, “opiates” was the exclusive term for drugs derived from the opium poppy, while the term “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates. These days the two terms are interchangeable. Of course, both forms of the drug can cause dependence, addiction and death by overdose. Today, “opioids” is commonly used to refer to both forms of the drug.)
Why home detox is always a risky choice
Choosing to withdraw from opioid dependence on your own is not a choice to be made lightly.
First, most people who attempt to withdraw at home on their own neglect to arrange for experienced medical supervision. The withdrawal symptoms can be so terrible that few people ever get through it on their own. Most give up and go back to their pills or street drugs – a disappointing failure that can really hurt.
Second, trying to get off any dependent substances without medical assistance can be a life-threatening decision. We’re not saying this to scare you unduly. But go ahead and be scared, because these are the facts:
- Suddenly stopping many types of drugs, including alcohol, opiates/opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates and a host of other psychoactive drugs can lead to fatal seizures and heart attacks.
- In fact, you don’t even have to be seriously addicted or even long-term dependent on some of these drugs to actually die if you suddenly quit taking them.
- Attempting to wean yourself off most substances – stepping down your dose a little each day or each week – can lead to a whole slew of other symptoms that you may not be able to manage yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
- Opioids may not be the most dangerous of these drugs, but they are definitely on the danger list.
A medical ally is essential
We want to impress on you that if you decide to try an at-home detox, you must see a doctor first. That is a must!
You need to find a physician experienced in substance use withdrawal who will work with you to fully understand your dependencies and your current medical condition.
- You need to disclose your entire substance use history and everything you are currently taking. No hiding anything even if it’s illegal. It could mean your life.
- You need a full medical exam, including a search for any underlying physiological reasons that might have contributed to your dependence, and get that treated.
- You need to be guided into better overall health before attempting even a step-down withdrawal, let alone a cold turkey. The stress on your body can be punishing.
Creating a relationship with a qualified physician who will supervise your opioid taper, one who agrees to be there whenever you need help during withdrawal, will go a long way towards making an attempt at a home detox somewhat safer. It increases chances of success – and it could even save your life.
Consider finding yourself semiconscious on the floor, alone, freaked out and not thinking straight, suffering so much you can’t even reach the phone. Even with a doctor, friends or neighbors nearby, it all comes apart when you’re alone and physically helpless.
The unavoidable truth is that the best chance for a safe withdrawal from opioids is at a facility where experienced, caring medical supervision is provided around the clock, 24/7.
Novus Medical Detox Center is recognized internationally as a pioneer in the development of medical protocols that reduce the time required for successful drug and alcohol detox. And even more importantly, Novus medical withdrawal protocols greatly reduce the physical and emotional discomforts associated with withdrawal.
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