DIY Detox: Many Risks, Many Uncertainties

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With the opioid addiction problem in the U.S. reaching an all time high, we are faced with a shortage of detox and addiction rehab beds, as well as limits of public and private insurance to pay for treatment. Changes to the Affordable Health Care Act are looming in the Senate and could well remove opioid treatment dollars from Medicaid and allow private insurers to exclude drug treatment benefits from policies. Where will that leave people who want to stop using?

There are people struggling with addiction who take matters into their own hands and attempt a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) detox. This approach can lead to many complications and medical risks and does not address the physical symptoms of withdrawal, which can require an environment with appropriate medical resources and support. It also leaves the person, once physical withdrawal from opioids is completed, without other resources. As they face psychological cravings, they may consider using again and can be more susceptible to peer pressure. Or, they may switch to another substance in their search for relief.

In our work with people who are struggling with substance use and addiction we often hear about failed treatment efforts and relapse. In fact, one individual reported to me that he had made 17 attempts at detox and treatment before he finally decided that he needed to change his life. In that last treatment he decided that “he was sick and tired or being sick and tired.” Now with many years of sobriety he’s working as a drug counselor and attending graduate school. His goal is to help people with addiction make changes. Many people I know who have successfully addressed their addictions report that they could not do it on their own.

The increase in the problem with drug use and addiction coupled with the ever-dwindling resources for treatment may lead more people to attempt DIY detox. With these unsupported attempts come many risks and a high potential for relapse. Get the professional help you need now!

Click here to read the NPR story of man who has been successful with DIY detox and now gives back to others: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/03/533793801/without-medical-support-diy-detox-often-fails

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