The dangers of detoxing at home

When thinking of detoxing from addictive substances at home, many are instantly met with the nightmare-fuel image of an infant baby crawling on the ceiling in the classic British movie, Trainspotting.

In the movie, the character, Renton, was trying to detox from heroin at home by using the “cold turkey” method and witnessed enough disturbing hallucinations to give even horror writer Stephen King the chills. But is detox really like this when attempted at home, or was it just a fabricated movie scene?

Is a home detox recommended?

So Renton’s experience with detox in Trainspotting may have been somewhat accurate as he seemed to be experiencing a lot of the classic withdrawal symptoms. For those of you who haven’t watched the film, he does beat the addiction… but only for a very short period of time. The character goes back to using pretty quickly after detox and the downward spiral resumes.

But it’s just a character in a fictional film, surely it’s dramatised?”, we hear you cry. Well, yes, but the research on quitting drugs without medical help suggests that the success rate is much lower.

A study carried out in 2016 showed that people who received drug and alcohol treatment while residing in a facility were almost three times more likely to complete their treatment compared to those who received treatment on an outpatient basis. This means that attempting a detox on your own at home instantly leaves you as a statistical underdog before you’ve even begun the process.
So why are home detoxes so notoriously difficult to carry out independently? A lot, if not all of it, has to do with the withdrawal symptoms that occur when you are attempting to quit drugs or alcohol.

Why are drug and alcohol withdrawals so intense?

Drug and alcohol use changes the brain’s chemistry and can cause intense cravings, leading to changes in the reward system. When a person stops using the substance of choice, their body and brain must adjust, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.

These substances may also have been providing a temporary escape from mental health issues or life stressors, meaning withdrawal can lead to rebound symptoms. This makes the detoxing process one that is psychologically challenging as well as physically challenging.

With both physical and mental temptations raging war against each other in your body, you can start to understand why a home detox can be so difficult. But can home detoxes ever go as far to be dangerous?

4 potentially dangerous situations you can encounter when detoxing from home

Drug and alcohol withdrawals can present serious threats to not only the person experiencing it but also the people around them. By highlighting different scenarios, we can paint a clearer picture of the dangers involved in home detoxing and the importance of seeking professional help:

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms…

Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and uncomfortable and in some cases, life-threatening. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, shaking, seizures and hallucinations. Without proper medical care, these symptoms can become dangerous.

Potential situation: You experience a life-threatening seizure as part of drug or alcohol withdrawal.

Potential outcome: No one is in your house to help you, or, your family members have no knowledge of how to deal with seizures.

Triggers are still present…

A lot of triggers may still be in your home environment. Whether that’s stressors from family life or from friends that you used to drink or take drugs with. Rehab will teach you the coping methods you need to deal with these issues and not let addiction rule your life.

Potential situation: Your family stresses you out.

Potential outcome: You break your detox and use drugs or alcohol again as a way of coping.

Psychiatric Symptoms…


The dangers of detoxing at home - psychiatric reaction


Withdrawal from certain substances can cause psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms can be dangerous to the individual and those around them.

Potential situation: You experience a hallucination so strong and frightening that you feel it’s real and lash out.

Potential outcome: You are a danger to yourself and others around you.

Fatal overdose…

Without proper medical care and support, the risk of relapse is high. Relapse can lead to a dangerous, potentially fatal, overdose.

Potential situation: You break abstinence and take a higher-than-normal dose as you’re sure this will be the last time – “why not take one last big one before you quit”?

Potential outcome: The dose is too high and is fatal.

What is the most common form of drug and alcohol detox?

While there are a few different ways to detox from addictive substances, one of the safest and most used methods by rehabilitation treatment centres is Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).

MAT combines medicine (if needed) with therapy in order to help you detox in a safe and caring environment. This approach has been shown to help many people with addiction achieve sustained recovery and improve their quality of life.

Depending on what substance you are coming off, the specially assigned medication will help ease the withdrawal symptoms. They may not disappear completely, but that’s where the counselling comes in. Counselling gives you the outlet you may have never had; the opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings. You’d be surprised by the weight that is lifted off your shoulders once you chew the fat with someone whose only intention is to make you feel better.

Oasis Bradford – the safe place to detox

Oasis Bradford provides a safe and comfortable setting for you through a variety of measures. We offer alcohol detox as well as a variety of drug detoxes. Here’s what we offer in our residential rehab programme:

  • Professional supervision
  • Medical assistance
  • Counselling and therapy
  • Structured environment
  • Distraction-free environment
  • Follow-up care

What’s next?

While home detoxing may seem like a convenient and cost-effective approach, it can be dangerous and ineffective. Rehab can provide you with the tools and support you need to break free from the cycle of substance addiction.

Don’t wait until it’s too late; pick up the phone and contact us at Oasis Bradford. Every day that you spend in the grips of addiction is another day lost to it. You have the power to take control of your life and make a positive change for your future.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

– Carl Bard.