1. You or someone you know has an opiate problem that absolutely needs to be addressed. If it’s not a real problem, why are you searching for solutions?
2. Thousands and thousands of people are searching for ways to kick their opiate addictions.
3. Thousands of those searchers are also asking, “Should I try the do-it-yourself method and detox at home, or should I seek professional assistance through a certified opiate detox center?”
For this blog post, we surveyed five members of the Stepworks treatment team. Here is what we learned:
1. If your friend or loved one needed to detox from opiates, would you recommend that they (A) check into an opiate detox center or (B) detox at home?
Having worked in the field for several years, I would want anyone I cared about to enter a licensed treatment center. Opiate detox is not life threatening, but is very difficult. Folks are much more likely to relapse due to craving during detox and being in a facility where there is both medical and emotional support can really make the difference.
A supervised medical detox is definitely the better of these two options. The detox process can be a scary thing when tried on your own, and the supervision of a trained staff to monitor this process is a great asset.
A detoxing client needs structure in the beginning. They need to be able to let go and let someone with experience guide them through what can seem like a hopeless procedure. The addiction is telling them that it is impossible to live without drugs or alcohol. A trained staff can give encouragement and understanding that they may not get at home.
I absolutely recommend a detox center. Prescribed medications can relieve the discomfort of detox, making it less likley for the person to give in to the pain and go use.
Clients of ours who have shared about their experiences trying to detox at home relate it as “hell” in most cases. They experience not only the physical symptoms that are very uncomfortable, they also say the anxiety that comes with that as a real barrier to their ability to follow through. In many cases, they say that after 2-3 days, they just arent able to do it. The ones who have tried it at home before coming to us are nervous and worried. They tell us it is because it was so horrible at home, and they fear it being that bad again. They take comfort from our reassurances that our medical detox addresses those symptoms. We tell them that, while they will still experience symptoms of discomfort, it will be very manageable. Because they tried at home and failed, the fear of feeling that pain again is a real barrier to successful recovery.
2. Are there exceptions?
I think there are always exceptions. For example, if a person had been using opiates for a very brief period of time, in low dosages… if they had a VERY supportive home environment and were highly motivated to discontinue opiate use… or if they simply were unable to enter a treatment facility for any length of time. In those cases, I might recommend outpatient treatment.
In my opinion, the only exception would be if I completely trusted I would be in no medical danger.
If all else fails and treatment is not a option, at home detox would be a resource that could be considered, but the addicted person and their whole family must be actively involved for motivation, support, and medication monitoring until the person is stable. It will not be easy.
I wouldn’t want to make exceptions when dealing with the detox phase of treatment. Making exceptions can be acceptable in certain life situations, but compromising on the best way for one to detox is not one of those situations.
I imagine there are exceptions to this, but we don’t see them very often. The main thing I would want them to do is realize that trying to detox on their own is continuing to do things “their way.” Unfortunately, “their way” hasn’t been very successful. Addiction is a disease and needs to be treated with professional medical help and ort… not only for the physical symptoms, but for the emotional symptoms as well.
3. What is the “main thing” you would encourage the person to do?
Let trained professionals be trained professionals when it comes time to detox. Could you detox at home and be okay? Maybe. Would it be a safer, more effective, smoother transition if you did a medical detox? Absolutely.
After detoxing, go to NA Meetings, and of course, pray.
The main thing I would encourage you to do is go to detox center for professional care. If I cut my arm, I wouldn’t try to give myself stiches. I wouldn’t set my own leg if I broke it. And really, addiction is a lot more life-threatening than an arm or leg injury.
Don’t stay stuck in denial that there is a problem. Seek a recommendation from a qualified professional, and heed the advice of that professional. There are many resources available to help in matters like these. Folks don’t have to make uninformed or unsupported decisions on their own.
Obviously, there is a consensus. At Stepworks, our position is that it is safer, wiser, more comfortable, and more effective to seek professional medical assistance. We strongly believe in what we are doing.
At Stepworks, our goal isn’t just to get people off of drugs and alcohol–our goal is to restore lives and help people STAY clean and sober. Call 1-888-982-1244 to speak with a member of our team.