Information on Home Detox for Drug Abuse

Created On Thursday, 04, February 2016
Modified On Friday, 01, October 2021


Home detox is different from professional detox because, generally, the detox occurs within a non-medical setting such as a person's home. Professional detox involves the implementation of specific medical and psychological support. The purpose of a professional drug detox program is to ease the discomfort and dangers associated with drug withdrawal. Addiction professionals recommend professional detox for the safety of the recovering addict. The detox process should take place under the care of a team of trained professionals. Whether the detox provides medical supervision or offers conventional detox support, professional settings are usually more effective. However, some drug users choose a home detox because they are unable to afford detox or do not have insurance.

Other reasons for choosing home detox is because of the comfort of being at home; however, there are pros and cons to detoxing at home. Detoxification is the process of letting the body remove the immediate drug toxins and safely manage withdrawal symptoms. Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol would experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Detox takes place in the early stages of addiction treatment—home detox is no different, and it would occur before the person attends inpatient or outpatient drug rehabilitation.

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Abruptly quitting drugs or alcohol on your own without professional help is difficult and problematic. The problems are severe with severe long-term addiction or a drug problem involving opioids, prescription drugs, and alcohol. Some of the difficult symptoms experienced during withdrawal include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and tremors. More severe withdrawal symptoms or withdrawal complications include seizures, which could occur with severe alcoholism. Overall, there are many different types of withdrawal services available. Most detox facilities offer supportive or social detox, but not all detox facilities are equipped to manage certain types of withdrawal medically. When considering home detox, it is crucial to arrange extra support, whether from family or friends or a medical professional.

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The Pros and Cons of Home Detox and When to Consider It

This is a picture of a girl crying in the arms of a manTypically, a professional detox process involves the initial evaluation, where the patient undergoes a complete mental and medical health assessment. Usually, these are tests to identify which drugs the person is using, and it determines what level of care is needed. The next phase of detox is stabilization, which involves bringing a person into a substance-free state before they enter treatment. Once detox is complete, the next phase of treatment involves transitioning to an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. However, not every person is able to detox in a professional setting, such as a conventional detox center or inpatient medical detox program. Home detox could be an option to consider, but there are pros and cons to detoxing at home.

Initially, an at-home detox should be performed after a doctor, or medical professional has approved the process. Most addicts attempt to detox on their own, but the type of drug they are using determines the severity of detox. Detoxing without medical or professional help has the potential to become dangerous. When considering a home detox, be sure to consult with a medical professional, typically a professional who has experience treating addiction and withdrawal management. Also, there are some important questions to ask, such as the type of substances used regularly and the frequency or duration of use. It is also important to consider if there are any preexisting and concurrent physical health symptoms or previous withdrawal detox attempts.

Someone who is detoxing at home would require support, such as family and friends or medical help if needed. Home detox could be an option for a healthy person with no significant physical dependence or with a history of long-term substance abuse. However, there are risks involved with a home detox. Detox is not a comfortable experience, and relapse is a real problem because you are surrounded by proper support. Physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms vary in intensity based on the drugs or drug of choice. The agitation and cravings during detox are enough to push people to relapse, especially while at home. Willpower alone will not always get someone through a detox.

Additionally, there is the risk of overdose, even if the attempted detox period is brief. When the detox is complete, the body is no longer tolerant of the same dose and amount of drugs previously used. There is also the psychological strain of detoxing on your own without professional help, and this strain could lead to relapse or an overdose. However, someone would attempt home detox because they have the proper support and medical advice. Some drug and alcohol treatment centers are capable of also providing guidance to help a person through a home detox.

What are the Alternatives to Home Detox?

The two alternatives to home detox are inpatient traditional detox or an inpatient medically supervised detox. Conventional detox programs provide detox for drug users addicted to a substance that does not cause severe withdrawal symptoms. For example, this could involve marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or hallucinogens. Traditional detox programs usually last a few days and are often attached to inpatient or outpatient drug rehab centers. The other options involve an inpatient medically supervised detox. Medical detox offers withdrawal management, which is a process of controlling withdrawal symptoms to treat addiction. Addicts struggling with opioid addiction, prescription drug abuse, or severe alcoholism would benefit from a medical detox. When considering home detox as an option, it is crucial to explore these other choices. The first step should involve speaking with a qualified medical professional and determining what the best option is.

Initiation of Substance Use and Addiction Requiring Detox or Home Detox

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there were 3.1 million new marijuana users, 1.9 million prescription pain relievers, and one million new prescription stimulant users. Also, about 4.9 million people aged 12 or older used alcohol for the first time in 2018. Over 800,000 people used cocaine for the first time in 2018, and over 100,000 people used heroin for the first time. Every year more people become addicted to these substances and require detox, whether at home or within a professional setting. In 2018, approximately 11 million adults aged 26 or older had an alcohol use disorder in the past year. Also, in 2018 approximately 4.8 million adults aged 26 or older had an illicit drug use disorder.

Anyone struggling with addiction requires detox, whether in a professional detox center or home detox. Home detox is only effective with the right support and help, along with medical advice. It is also important to never consider detox as the only treatment approach. According to Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment, detoxification in and of itself does not constitute complete substance abuse treatment. The detox process involves three essential components, which is the evaluation, stabilization, and fostering patient readiness for and entry into substance abuse treatment. During home detox, it is not always easy to become ready for further treatment. There is a common misconception that if detox is done, the drug-addicted individual does not require counseling.

Overall, detoxification can take place in a wide variety of settings and at a number of levels of intensity within these different settings. When considering professional detox, placement should be appropriate to the patient's needs. "A successful detoxification program could be measured in part by whether an individual who is substance dependent centers and remains in some form of substance abuse treatment/rehabilitation after detoxification" (executive summary) Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.

Terminology Surrounding Home Detox

Term Definition
Home Detox the first phase of treatment is detox, which is the process of cleansing the body of the harmful toxins found in drugs; home detox is this process, but in a home environment and not in a professional setting.
Withdrawal Management is the medical and psychological care of patients who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of stopping drug use. The withdrawal symptoms are typically controlled with the use of medication.
Natural Detox at Home is a detox process or cleanse that is typically done at home with the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation, whole foods, and other natural products to cleanse the body of drugs.
Withdrawal Symptoms these are the physical or psychological features that follow the abrupt discontinuation of a drug or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol create physical dependency, which are withdrawal symptoms that require proper management through detox.
Clinically Managed Detox is detox taking place in a clinical setting, such as a hospital on a partial inpatient or outpatient basis.
Medically Supervised Detox is a detox process done under medical supervision. Drugs such as alcohol, pain medication, and prescription stimulants create dangerous physical dependence requiring medical help to manage withdrawal symptoms. Typically, medication is used to control withdrawal symptoms, and this is under medical supervision.
Home Detox Diet is a diet meant to cleanse the body of harmful toxins from abusing drugs or alcohol. Detox diets are generally short-term, and it involves a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water.
Outpatient Detox Services is a detox process taking part on an outpatient basis; generally, the drug-addicted person is working with a medical professional who has done an initial assessment and is providing medical advice.
Home Detox Kit is a kit designed to help people flush a particular drug or alcohol out of their system and is usually a drink or pills. Detox kits are legal, but the products are not necessarily regulated.
Cold Turkey is the abrupt and complete cessation of taking a drug to which one is addicted to; cold turkey withdrawal is not necessarily recommended.


Marcel Gemme, DATS - Author

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Michael Leach, CCMA - Medically Reviewed on October 1, 2021

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Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.