Drug addiction is a massive problem that affects many people across the UK. However, while it is easier for those who abuse illegal drugs such as crystal meth, crack cocaine and heroin to realise when they have developed an addiction, for those with an addiction to prescription medication, admitting the truth can be a challenge. The very idea that someone who has never touched an illegal substance in their life could need a drug detox is hard to swallow and can be a huge obstacle in the recovery process. Those who do know they are in trouble and in need of help may be wondering how to drug detox naturally so that they do not have to get professional help and risk others finding out about their problem.
This is entirely understandable, particularly because of the stigma that is attached to drug addiction. With so much negative hype around this recognised illness of the brain, it is natural for those affected to want to distance themselves from it; many will feel a huge amount of shame and embarrassment at the very idea of being classed as an addict.
Unfortunately, both illegal drug and prescription drug addiction are massive issues here in the United Kingdom; issues that need to be addressed. For most people, this means taking the plunge and firstly admitting that they have an addiction before turning thoughts to a drug detox and the best way to go about doing this. Below is a brief guide on how to detox naturally, but the question of whether this is something that should be considered is one that must also be addressed.
Should You Detox at Home?
The drug detox process can be very stressful and even be life-threatening if certain complications arise. For most affected individuals, detoxing at home is not an option. It is our opinion that a drug detox should always take place in a dedicated facility due to the risk of complications that could put the patient in danger. Well-run detox facilities can make the entire process more comfortable, less stressful, and safer.
Nevertheless, if you really want to detox at home then it is entirely possible, provided you are monitored throughout by someone with experience of the process or a family member who is fully prepared for all eventualities.
That being said, there are certain circumstances where detoxing at home is inappropriate. These include:
- If you generally experience withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating or hallucinations whenever you need a fix. Those who experience withdrawal symptoms when in need of their drug of choice have a physical addiction and may be at risk of more severe symptoms during a full detox.
- If you have any serious or chronic health problems such as lung disease, heart problems, or hepatitis C.
- If you suffer with mental health problems like chronic depression or anxiety.
- If you have had suicidal tendencies in the past or have self-harmed.
- If you are prone to violent behaviour while under the influence of drugs.
- If you have previously suffered seizures or convulsions
- If you are addicted to any type of opiate drug.
There is no way to know who will and will not experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms, and even those with more than one of the above conditions could easily go on to detox at home with success. Nonetheless, when it comes to the drug detox process, it is far better to err on the side of caution. The risk for serious complications will increase with the above conditions, and detoxing in a dedicated facility means having access to medical professionals who know instantly how to react in the event of an emergency.
If You Really Want to Detox at Home
There are some people who feel immense anxiety and distress at the idea of having to detox in a supervised facility and cannot bear the thought of being away from their loved ones at this stressful time. If you are sure you would like to detox at home, there are a number of things to consider to ensure you are comfortable and safe throughout.
It is important that you are aware that detoxing on your own is never a good idea. It is essential that you have someone with you at all times; as a detox usually lasts for around seven to ten days, this may mean getting more than one person involved. Whoever agrees to supervise your detox will need to be awake throughout so that they can monitor your progress and make sure you are safe at all times.
What Detox Supervisors Need to Know
Whoever agrees to supervise your detox should be aware that this is a huge responsibility. As there is a risk for complications, this individual(s) needs to know what they should do in the event of an emergency and should be calm enough not to panic.
Before you begin, you should be examined by a doctor or a nurse who has experience of addiction withdrawal. This medical professional should assess your mental and physical health before the process begins.
As previously mentioned, it is best to have a number of people willing to take shifts because the detox can last a number of days. A schedule of shifts should be agreed in advance of the detox beginning so that there are no misunderstandings about who should be on duty.
Supervisors should have immediate access to a list of who to call in the event of an emergency. The most obvious number would be 999, but you may also want to include your doctor’s number if he or she has agreed to this as well as neighbours, friends and family members who have agreed to help if you get violent.
Medical issues that you have should be provided to the supervisor, which should include any medication or supplements that you take. It is vital that the supervisor has this information to pass to emergency services if the need arises.
How to Make a Natural Detox More Comfortable
There is no doubting the fact that a detox is an unpleasant process for most people. However, there are steps you can take to make it more comfortable and to help the time pass more quickly. The atmosphere should be calm and tranquil, without bright lights or a lot of noise. It is appropriate to have soft music in the background and it is perfectly acceptable to engage in conversation with the supervisor. Nevertheless, bright lights and loud noises should be kept to a minimum to prevent complications such as seizures or convulsions.
Comfort is very important during a detox; there should be a comfortable armchair or sofa for the patient to use as well as a low bed or mattress on the floor for sleeping. This is important as many individuals will have very restless sleeps during the detox process. If the bed is too high, the patient could fall and injure themselves.
Supervisors should follow the lead of the detoxing patient during the detox and allow him or her to do the things that will make the process easier. This could mean chatting, watching TV, listening to music, or meditating. It is important that the individual is able to occupy his or her time with things that they want to do.
There may be a strong temptation to quit or return to mood-altering substances as soon as the cravings hit, so supervisors should ensure that the patient is never left alone or has unsupervised phone contact. Unsupervised computer use should also be avoided. Visits from those who are not involved in the recovery process should not be permitted during the detox. Any mood-altering drugs should not be given to the patient without explicit permission from a medical professional.
What to Do in the Event of an Emergency?
It is important to remember that complications can and do arise during a drug detox, and while they can often be dealt with quickly and effectively in a dedicated facility, the potential for danger is heightened when detoxing at home.
Supervisors may experience a certain amount of anger and hostility directed at them by the detoxing patient, and this is normal. As the patient realises that their supervisor is not going to allow him or her to relieve withdrawal symptoms with drugs, he or she may become angry and resentful. Sometimes the affected person will become violent or aggressive; in this case, the supervisor may want to call for help.
Hallucinations are also common during a drug detox, and while they are not in themselves dangerous, they could lead to violent or aggressive behaviour. Some patients may begin harming themselves or try to harm their supervisor in response to things they are seeing or hearing during a hallucination. It is important that supervisors know how to react if this happens. They should be calm and supportive and accept that even though they know that the patient is seeing things that are not there, what they are seeing is very real to them. Reassure him or her that these things will go away soon and that they cannot do any harm.
The above may not require medical help, but there are certain instances where the supervisor will need to call emergency services, including:
- If the patient is vomiting continuously or vomiting blood.
- If the patient is struggling to breathe or has rapid breathing.
- If the patient has a temperature of more than 39o
- If the patient has severe stomach or chest pain.
- If the patient’s pulse is racing and you are struggling to calm him or her down.
- If the patient is severely trembling and cannot stop
- If he or she suffers a seizure.
- If the patient is difficult to wake.
- If the patient is experiencing repeated hallucinations that is leading to violent behaviour.
Supervised Drug Detoxes
You may want to know more about how to drug detox naturally, but for the most part, it is recommended that those who want to get clean and sober do so in a supervised environment. A dedicated drug detox facility will be much safer for patients as the staff there are fully trained and know how various drugs affect the individual. They will have experience of dealing with other patients who have detoxed from the same type of drug that you have been abusing, and will know what can be done to make the process less painful and less stressful.
Here at Oasis Bradford, we have a team of dedicated professionals who can make your drug detox a safer and more comfortable process. Our mission is to help our patients to get clean in a quiet and peaceful environment. Our highly trained staff will monitor you throughout your detox and can prescribe medication to ease or head off the most severe symptoms, if appropriate.
If you are interested in a drug detox for yourself or someone you love, please get in touch with us today to find out more about what we do and how we can help.