Whether from pride, “convenience” or financial concerns, many people trying to get off chemical addictions are tempted to forego hospitalization and go cold turkey at home. Some health stores even sell “home detox kits” that allegedly use pills or liquids to flush drugs from the body.
Although it may seem like the easiest fix, home detox is a dangerous game of chance at best. Alcohol and benzodiazepine detox frequently generate life-threatening physical effects. Unsupervised cocaine detoxification has driven people to suicide. Even opiate withdrawal, which just makes most people physically miserable for several days, can kill if a person has a sensitive reaction or fails to provide for auxiliary problems such as dehydration and suicidal thoughts.
While understanding the symptoms of severe withdrawal—and being prepared to summon prompt medical help if needed—can lessen the risks somewhat, the best approach is always to get treatment at a professional drug and alcohol detox center. Even a quick Google search for “southern California detox centers,” “Los Angeles detox,” Orange County detox,” “Riverside drug rehab” or “detox centers in Orange County” makes it obvious there is a huge list of options available.
(Not to say you should immediately call the first center that pops up under “Riverside drug rehab” or “southern California detox center”—California detox centers, and detox centers throughout the country, have their share of bad apples and fly-by-night operations. Get recommendations from reputable sources: your doctor, your health insurance provider, established sobriety organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration directory at https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov.)
Still, even after reviewing a list of reputable and experienced drug and alcohol detox centers, you may wonder: Professional medical treatment is all well and good, but once I’m physically clean, do I really need to invest in the long stays and intensive counselling these places recommend? Nearly always the answer is yes, and here’s why:
1. Staying clean is just as important as getting clean.
There’s more to medical detox than removing immediate physical cravings. If you simply “get clean” physically and rush back to your old familiar world, there’ll be nothing to keep you from returning to the old familiar stress relief when you re-encounter the old familiar pressures. (And relapsing after detox, when your body may have lost its ability to handle the old familiar amount, is among the riskiest times for overdose.) The therapy and “safe housing” provided by drug and alcohol detox facilities give you time to get used to living drug-free, and to learn new techniques for resisting addiction.
2. You have emotional needs beyond the physical.
It doesn’t matter whether your immediate need is detox from prescription drugs, an alcohol detox center, a heroin detox program, cocaine rehabilitation, or suboxone detoxification treatment: there are always deeper reasons why you became addicted in the first place. Drug and alcohol detox centers help you to get at the roots of emotional and psychological problems, and to deal with issues that could tempt you to return to drug use after treatment.
Detox counselling also helps develop a realistic picture of what you can and can’t “handle,” so you can plan long-term changes in your life.
3. You need to learn to believe in yourself.
Some people who develop addictions are shy types who tiptoe through life on eggshells, doing all they can to avoid displeasing others. And some people who develop addictions are bombastic overachievers who are never satisfied with anyone’s or anything’s best. But nearly everyone who becomes chemically dependent is at heart unsure of him- or herself, unable to judge criticism objectively and convinced that imperfection equals failure. Feeling that others are constantly judging them, unable to accept their own weaknesses, such people learn to consider pain-numbing chemicals their only friends.
Hence, effective long-term recovery requires an emotional outlook that accepts life and self as they are and that can appreciate good things without insisting they be perfect. Equally important is developing a sense of personal empowerment: confidence in one’s ability to improve things that need improving, without demanding to control the uncontrollable or make a major difference overnight. Detox therapy will help you learn to accept life—and yourself!—as things are, and to handle the need for ongoing improvement with a healthy attitude, thus making the best of life without needing drugs as a crutch.
4. You’ll have opportunities to connect with others who will influence you to stay sober.
Even if you’re a born introvert, look for a treatment program that includes group therapy. Sharing stories with fellow detoxers will help you feel less alone and will reassure you there are people who understand your struggles and aren’t judging you. Plus, you’ll find opportunities to help others, which positively influences your feelings about the world and yourself.
A good detox center will also encourage your whole family to get involved in actively supporting you—and attending therapy with you. The best sobriety successes are those reinforced by strong support networks on all levels of life.
All this and more can be yours. Don’t delay—look into experienced detox centers today!