While the risks of overdose or death are generally considered the greatest dangers associated with drug or alcohol dependence, improper detoxing can result in disastrous – even fatal – results as well. It may seem ironic, as detoxing is an integral and one of the earliest parts of the recovery process. However, the harsh reality is, an individual with a serious physical dependence on certain substances can find themselves in peril if this stage of recovery is not undertaken correctly. It's important for detoxing to happen with professional supervision such as during inpatient treatment at a medically assisted treatment center.
Before getting into the dangers of improper detoxing, it is important to understand why detoxing is necessary. That conversation must always start with the concept that prevents many with physical dependences from seeking help – withdrawal.
Many people don’t understand how or why drug addiction happens. Sometimes they think people who use drugs could simply stop using them whenever they wanted. A lot of people assume addicts keep using drugs because they lack the willpower to say no. Or that they don’t have a moral compass guiding them to stop. The truth though, is that drug addiction is a complex issue. Drugs change the brain in a way that makes quitting difficult even though someone has a strong will or good intentions.
One good piece of news for drug addicts who want to quit is that researchers have collected vast amounts of information on how drugs affect the brain. This has allowed them to develop effective treatments that help people recover from their drug addictions and start leading productive lives again.
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common substance use disorders affecting Americans today. But because alcohol is a legal narcotic, it is one that often goes untreated. In fact, even though more people seek treatment for alcoholism than any other SUD, as much as 95% of those who need treatment feel they don’t have a problem. To put this into perspective, 1 in 13 adults in the United States abuses alcohol or has an alcohol addiction.
With alcoholism being so prevalent, it is not an unknown or mysterious condition. But contrary to popular belief, neither is it something that alcoholics bring on themselves. Although you can take steps to avoid it, alcoholism is a disease caused by defects in the brain. And these abnormalities are inherited. When an alcoholic drinks, their brain reacts differently to other peoples. Emotional instability, traumatic circumstances, personality disorders, and character defects worsen the problem.
Parenting a child of any age who has become ensnared by alcohol or drugs is so counter-intuitive. As parents, we’ve been focused from Day One on keeping our children safe. We grab them when they are headed toward the busy street. We pick them up when they fall down. We make sure they are fed and clothed and sheltered. But when drugs or alcohol muddy the water, we have to learn a new set of rules to keep us from enabling their substance use disorder. Those rules can help us – and them – head in the direction of recovery.
Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the body before starting addiction treatment. Medical professionals monitor patients during drug detox and alcohol detox while they remove the addictive substances from their body. Stopping the use of addictive substances is physically demanding and potentially dangerous. Depending on the addictive substance, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and can even lead to serious health consequences.