Simply put, centers that specialize in helping drug users kick the habit and recover are expensive. Further, the waiting lists can be unfathomably long, so it takes a while for someone to receive the help they're looking for. This is why many addicts decide to detox on their own. This, however, is usually a very bad idea.
Unfortunately, in this age of detoxing, some people believe that all they need to do is rid their bodies of chemicals and they'll be just fine. This is unfortunately not the case. Those suffering from withdrawal have said that food poisoning is preferential to how they felt when they were coming down off the drugs.
Symptoms associated with withdrawal are usually intense and include sweating, shaking, severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, amongst others. As these symptoms subside, they are typically replaced with feelings of exhaustion, depression, and irritability, not to mention feeling sore all over from such extreme vomiting and shakes. Dr. Kyle Kampman at the University of Pennsylvania says that most people are not prepared to detox from opioids without the support or medication to help ease the symptoms that accompany withdrawal.
Scarier still, all that vomiting and diarrhea can cause someone to become dehydrated and, if not treated properly, dehydration can lead to severe complications and may even become fatal. Kampman is worried too about the risks involved with self-medication, which some folks do to avoid the side effects of withdrawal or even just the cravings for the drug itself.
Medications like clonidine, methadone, buprenorphine, and sedatives are all incredibly dangerous when used to self-medicate. Someone can easily suffer an overdose of methadone especially without the proper medical assistance. Further, the average person may not be aware of the adverse effects that can occur from mixing medications.
Perhaps the worst thing about detoxing, according to Kampman, is that it is largely unsuccessful. So people are putting themselves through hell, at the very least, and are potentially risking death for a method that, it has been proven, simply does not work. Says Kampman: " We have a long history of putting people into detox, followed by drug-free treatment that results in relapse in an overwhelming number of cases."
Worse still is that if the patient relapses, there's a higher risk of overdose because his body can no longer tolerate the drug like it could before. Kampman notes that you can't simply "flush" addiction out of your body. Those who are addicted must accept that it is a disease, and that it must be treated as such.
Dr. Frederic Baurer believes it would be in everyone's best interests if we simply abandoned the whole idea of detoxing. When attempting to get clean with medical assistance, a patient's symptoms are monitored, and they meet with counselors to come up with a long-term plan for treatment. Perhaps even more important is that they also receive medications, and in the proper dosages, to help them manage their cravings for the drug. Getting sober involves much more than simply flushing the drug from one's body.