Discover powerful tips for drug detox at home in 2023. Learn effective methods and expert advice on safely detoxifying from drugs within the comfort of your own home. Explore the latest techniques and strategies to overcome addiction, all from the convenience of your home environment.
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and cannot be used for diagnosis, treatment prescription, or to replace a doctor’s consultation. Please consult your healthcare professional!
What are Drugs?
Drugs are substances with psychoactive effects that induce pleasant sensations upon initial use and severe addiction with subsequent use. In Russia, at least 10% of the population aged 16-25 have tried psychoactive substances, and in some regions like St. Petersburg, this figure reaches 30%. Reasons for drug use vary widely: attempts to ease socialization, curiosity, depression.
Symptoms after drug use depend on the type:
- Cannabinoids (based on hemp): relaxation, lethargy.
- Opiates (heroin, methadone, morphine): euphoria, a sense of tranquility, bliss.
- Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines): euphoria, increased energy, reduced need for rest and sleep.
- Hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms): distorted perception of reality.
- Sedatives (pharmaceutical drugs): relaxation, rapid onset of sleep.
- Synthetic drugs (spices): varied effects depending on precise chemical composition, often euphoria, feelings of strength, ability to fly, etc.
These sensations occur only during the initial stages of substance use. As addiction develops, these effects diminish, but withdrawal from drugs causes intense discomfort, compelling the addict to use higher doses in an attempt to regain the initial pleasure.
Several models describe the mechanism of addiction development. The most well-known is the description of addiction as a disease in three stages:
I – attempting to solve internal psychological problems through substance use. II – the emergence of physical cravings. III – severe physical and psychological cravings, personality degradation. The speed of addiction development depends on the type and composition of the substance and the individual’s psychological characteristics.
Drugs are poison, but due to their specific effects, they do not kill instantly. The body gradually adapts to the substances, incorporating them into metabolism. Therefore, attempts to quit lead to a sharp reaction – withdrawal.
Addiction does not resolve on its own; it can only progress, destroying a person’s life, health, psychological well-being, and social skills. Even if the addict does not perceive the harm of addiction (which is only relevant for mild substances in the early stages of the disease), they inevitably damage their health. Until all components of synthetic or plant-based psychoactive poison are eliminated, complete recovery is impossible. Hence, detoxification is a crucial part of therapy.
How Long Do People Live with Addiction
On average, individuals struggling with addiction suffer from serious somatic complications twice as often and die (from illnesses and accidents, including suicide) twice as frequently.
Common complications of drug addiction include:
- Heart failure.
- Acute kidney and liver dysfunction.
- Epilepsy and other neurological disorders, etc.
All types of psychoactive substances cause severe consequences: there are no light and safe drugs, just as there are no individuals inherently resistant to addictive states.
Addiction is a condition that alters a person’s personality. It’s impossible to explain to a addicted teenager that the habit is destroying their life; threats, pleas, blackmail, or ultimatums are futile. Therefore, when symptoms of the disease appear, it is essential to consult an addiction specialist as early as possible.
Unlike ethyl alcohol (the main component of alcohol), which leaves the body within 1-2 days, provided kidney and liver function is preserved, psychoactive substances can remain in the blood and urine much longer:
- Marijuana – up to one and a half months.
- Benzodiazepines – up to a month.
- Cannabis – up to a month.
- Cocaine, heroin – up to three days.
- Methamphetamine, methadone – up to a week, and so on.
However, traces of drugs are not only present in biological fluids but also in other tissues. For instance, analyzing a person’s hair can indicate if they have used drugs over several months.
The concentration of breakdown products depends on the type and duration of substance use: after a single use, toxins quickly leave the body (which doesn’t make them any less dangerous). In individuals with drug addiction, drug traces persist in tissues for several months, even if they attempt to abstain from drug use for a while.
Other factors affecting the speed of drug residue elimination include:
- Kidney blood filtration rate (if kidney function is impaired, drugs and their breakdown products will remain in the blood longer).
- Liver condition (in cases of hepatitis and cirrhosis, toxin elimination is slow).
- Hydration level (if the amount of fluid consumed by the person is below normal, the kidneys will find it harder to flush out toxins).
Detoxification is a mandatory stage of comprehensive treatment, removing harmful components from tissues and biological fluids. Without it, therapy cannot continue, medications to correct somatic and psychological conditions cannot be prescribed, coding cannot be done, and psychological support cannot be provided.
Intoxication, Abstinence, Withdrawal – What Are They?
Chemical dependency involves alternating between two states: intoxication and abstinence.
Intoxication – poisoning caused by toxic compounds, in this case, drugs. Intoxication occurs during drug use, but the body of a drug addict is already adapted to the drugs’ effects, so their response is paradoxical. Intoxication is accompanied by feelings of euphoria, increased energy, relaxation, etc. If the dose exceeds the permissible limit, overdose occurs, leading to severe complications and even death.
Abstinence – a state that follows intoxication. The syndrome occurs before all drug breakdown products have left the body, approximately after 5-6 hours. Abstinence is intensely experienced by individuals: they undergo mental and physical torment, cannot resist compulsive cravings, and therefore seek any means to obtain a dose, even resorting to crime. Withdrawal and withdrawal syndrome are synonymous with abstinence.
The severity of abstinence depends on the type of drug: plant-based substances less frequently induce withdrawal, leading to the misconception of their safety. In reality, marijuana and hashish cause strong addiction, similar to chemical drugs, but psychological dependence is much stronger than physical.
When talking about detoxification of drug addicts, attention should not only be focused on intoxication. If the drug is removed, abstinence inevitably develops, which must be managed using individually selected medications.
Can Detoxification Be Done at Home?
In theory, detox can be self-administered without the help of addiction services in cases of mild severity and in the absence of somatic pathologies.
However, this approach:
- Has a low level of effectiveness.
- Is complicated by limitations.
- Is conducted with universal, not individually tailored methods.
It’s important to understand that only a small portion of drugs leaves the body unchanged (through urine, feces, sweat). The remaining drug traces transform into other substances (breakdown products) during metabolism, which can persist in tissues for a long time. For example, psychoactive components can stay in fatty tissue for years, and if a person starts losing weight, toxins can re-enter the bloodstream, causing intoxication. Hence, it’s crucial to completely eliminate drugs in the initial stage of comprehensive treatment.
Medications should not be taken without a doctor’s prescription, as in the context of poisoning, drugs can cause unpredictable side effects. Additionally, addicts cannot choose their own medications without a prior diagnosis and medical history review.
- Consume plenty of water, assuming there is no fluid retention in the tissues. Forced diuresis helps speed up the detoxification of drug addicts, eliminate dehydration, regulate the internal organs, and improve overall well-being. The amount of consumed fluid should be increased to about one and a half times: if a person needs to drink at least 30 ml of water per 1 kg of body weight normally, which is up to 2 liters per day, during detox, this indicator should be increased to 2.5-2.8 liters. It’s important to monitor the amount of urine produced, the formation of edema in the lower limbs, and the face.
- Rest, sleep a lot, avoid sources of stress. Sleep helps accumulate energy to cope with developing pathologies. However, sleeping when feeling extremely nauseous can be dangerous due to the risk of choking on vomit. Additionally, rest often becomes impossible if narcotic substances cause excessive agitation.
- Consume light, vitamin-rich food. Fast food, processed foods, snacks are contraindicated as they lack necessary nutritional value and worsen poisoning symptoms. Broths, fruits (especially citrus fruits), berries, and greens (due to their high antioxidant content), flaxseed (cleanses the intestines), nuts (provide necessary energy) are beneficial.
- Avoid overloading the body with sports activities, saunas, and baths. As health is restored, an active lifestyle can be resumed during rehabilitation, but in critical conditions, it’s better to refrain from excessive physical strain.
In satisfactory conditions, outdoor walks can be taken. It’s crucial to completely abstain from drug use since gradual, slow drug cessation does not lead to the desired result as the patterns that lead a person to live a drug-dependent lifestyle persist.
The effectiveness of this approach is limited because the patient does not have a tailored set of medicines to alleviate the symptoms of narcotic poisoning and abstinence, which frequently occur:
- Weakness, drowsiness.
- Headaches and muscle pain.
- Increased nervousness.
In mild cases, treatment lasts at least 5 days, and in addiction clinics, cleansing procedures take only 1-2 days.
- Severe vomiting.
- Mental disturbances.
- Manifestations of acute somatic disorders.
The problem of detoxification from drugs at home lies in the fact that often there is no one near the patient who can provide first aid, call a medical team, and offer psychological support during this difficult time.
Home Therapy: Indications and Limitations
The preferred method of treating drug addicts is hospitalization in a specialized unit. There, the patient receives round-the-clock monitoring and psychological support, and doctors have access to various tools, from diagnostic equipment to prescription medications. Staying in a hospital is considered the best way to organize therapy, but often patients try to treat themselves at home, either on their own or by inviting medical professionals.
This format is not permissible if the patient:
- Has a history of epilepsy, HIV, hepatitis.
- Suffers from acute or chronic kidney/liver failure.
- Is in a state of acute mental disorder, etc.
When considering home treatment, it’s useful to know about possible risks. Firstly, without diagnosis, a person cannot determine the cause of discomfort. For example, they might attempt to normalize blood pressure with medication, not suspecting that malignant hypertension is caused by kidney failure.
Secondly, self-administration of drugs can cause acute allergic reactions, where assistance must be provided within minutes. Finally, there is a high likelihood that the addict will resume drug use after detoxification because cleansing the body does not guarantee or imply complete freedom from pathological addiction.
Drug Detox at home
If a patient does not want to be admitted to a hospital’s addiction center, they can receive medical assistance at home by inviting a team of doctors.
Medications allow for direct intervention in the cause and manifestations of intoxication, resulting in faster results.
- Forced diuresis using diuretic drugs and intravenous infusion of a large volume of saline ensures rapid cleansing of the body. The volume of fluid administered is much higher than when taken orally, reaching up to 3 liters. However, as the solution is infused slowly, drop by drop, the load on the kidneys is evenly distributed. Before performing medical detoxification, it’s necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the kidneys and liver.
- Gastric lavage – used only when narcotics are consumed orally. An enema can wash toxins out of the intestines, but it cannot eliminate their presence in the blood, urine, or saliva.
- Specific drugs to neutralize narcotics – used only in cases of opioid intake (heroin, methadone, codeine, poppy). Opioid receptor antagonists (naloxone, naltrexone) displace narcotic components, allowing the person to break free from the intoxicating effects of psychoactive substances.
Examples of drugs that might be part of the treatment protocol in most cases include:
- Albumin solution – an intravenously administered substance that reduces swelling by transferring fluid back into the blood vessels. By increasing the blood volume, the concentration of drugs in the blood decreases, improving the individual’s well-being and sobriety.
- Ringer’s solution – an intravenous medication with cleansing properties and the ability to eliminate dehydration.
- Heptral – a hepatoprotector that helps the liver cope with the toxic effects of substances consumed.
- Riboxin – a cardioprotector that improves myocardial trophism and gas exchange, preventing the most common complications among drug addicts: cardiovascular catastrophes.
Other medications are intended to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. They help improve well-being, prevent relapses, and replenish essential vitamins lost during drug use, restoring the functioning of internal organs.
These medications include:
- Non-narcotic analgesics.
- Vitamins and antioxidants.
Tranquilizers and neuroleptics are often used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. These are serious prescription drugs dispensed strictly by prescription. They help quickly adjust the addict’s emotional state, eliminate depression, anxiety disorders, panic, and other disturbances. These medications can only be used after detoxification. Otherwise, the combination of psychoactive substances and these drugs can cause serious complications.
A medication-based approach is considered one of the safest and most effective ways to bring an addict to their senses and reduce the risk of complications. However, it does not always work: if the patient has contraindications to taking medication (kidney failure, complicated allergic history), extracorporeal methods are required, where the patient’s blood is passed through special filters:
These methods can only be performed in a clinical setting, in a hospital. Also, after hospitalization, patients can undergo detoxification under general anesthesia – ultra-rapid opioid detoxification (UROD).
How to Choose a Doctor for Home Visits?
If a patient wants to detoxify at home, they need to find experienced doctors with good equipment and the necessary medications.
If the addict is not in critical condition and plans to invite a doctor home to detoxify in a planned manner, they can only contact a private clinic. Doctors will come at a convenient time, perform diagnostics, and if there are no indications for mandatory hospitalization, carry out all necessary procedures.
When choosing a clinic, it’s important to consider not only reviews and prices but also:
- The experience and education of the doctors.
- Guarantees of safety and confidentiality.
- The clinic’s license for the relevant activities.
- The ability to perform resuscitation procedures and urgently hospitalize the patient if necessary.
Many centers offer doctor services without having a license for such activities. Often, they use low-quality drugs or methods that have nothing to do with evidence-based medicine.
Dangerous Methods of drug detoxification: What Not to Do
Traditional therapy offers many treatment methods. However, among the numerous decoctions and infusions, there is no recipe that can:
- Affect the speed of toxin removal from the blood.
- Enhance the effect of specific drugs.
- Free a person from addiction.
There is no scientific basis for the use of phytotherapy in narcology practice. Even harmless remedies can cause strong allergic reactions due to the impaired immune system of the addict or increase the load on the liver and kidneys, which are trying to remove dangerous toxins from the body. Nevertheless, many “healers,” “magicians,” “alternative medicine specialists,” and “phytotherapists” may offer their services as a safe alternative to conventional medicine. However, the cost of consulting them is often much higher than in licensed private clinics.
It’s also important to avoid:
- Using coffee or tea as a diuretic, as they have a negative impact on the patient’s nervous system.
- Taking herbs with laxative effects.
- Any remedies that promise instant effects without effort.
Self-treatment is the most dangerous and useless way to detoxify. If a patient is unwilling to be hospitalized where they will receive proper medical assistance according to a program developed in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Health and based on the patient’s personal characteristics identified during the diagnosis, they should avoid self-treatment.
What Happens After Drug Detoxification?
After detoxification, a person gets rid of the physically agonizing craving for drugs. However, the treatment does not end there: psychological patterns will push the addict toward a new dose, so there is a high probability that they will use psychoactive substances again and require detoxification once more.
Any addiction is eliminated by destroying the pathological dominant, a principle formulated by the famous Russian scientist Uhtomsky, creating new neural connections, and restoring health. A well-designed program involves a comprehensive approach, thus achieving rapid results and ensuring long-term remission.
The recovery period of drug detoxification lasts several months.
First and foremost, it is necessary to restore the patient’s physical condition, improve their well-being, and restore the functioning of their organs, etc. In a hospital setting, the desired result can be achieved within several days, but at home, the addict will have to undergo treatment for at least two weeks.
Psychological rehabilitation is the longest part of the treatment, where a person learns to live without narcotics. Addiction specialists and psychotherapists help patients restore social skills, learn to recognize relapses and triggering factors to effectively resist them. Destroying the old dominant and neural connections that cause the addict’s desire to use psychoactive substances takes no less than 3-6 months, but often patients spend about a year in a rehabilitation center. The stage concludes with resocialization to “transfer” the skills obtained during rehabilitation into real life.
The downside of drug detox from home conditions is that the patient is not motivated to continue treatment. Therapy conducted at home is less effective; the patient experiences discomfort due to slow recovery, leading to a false impression of the futility of improving their condition.
Can a person only undergo detoxification, foregoing other stages of therapy? Definitely, yes: narcological practice is based on the principle of voluntariness, even if a person’s refusal of medical assistance is highly likely to lead to complications or a fatal outcome. In other words, everyone has the right to consult a narcologist only after making a decision. Exceptions are cases where the patient is declared incapacitated and socially dangerous, in which the doctor has the legal right to send the dependent person to a clinic against their will.
Therefore, addiction is a severe and dangerous disease that requires mandatory detoxification during treatment. If desired and under certain conditions, it can be done at home, but only in the presence of competent doctors and with the willingness to go to a clinic for complete liberation from pathological dependence on psychoactive substances.