I have been getting a lot of questions lately about how to detox from various drugs at home, presumably from people who cannot arrange to go to treatment.
So let me give the best advice that I have gathered, based on my own personal experiences, working in a drug rehab detox center for 4 years, and also from feedback from visitors on this website. There are some things you can do that might help in some cases, so hopefully there is some decent knowledge accumulated here.
Photo by theogeo
In most cases, detox is going to be somewhat unpleasant. This is generally true even if you are being treated for it in a medical facility. Keep that in mind as you try to tough it out on your couch.
If you happen to be detoxing from alcohol, benzodiazepines, or barbiturates, then you should really seek medical attention, as those withdrawal symptoms can prove to be fatal. Do not attempt to detox yourself at home from any of those drugs. This includes alcohol. Withdrawal from them can kill you. Seek medical help. You have been warned.
General principles for detoxing at home
Try to sleep through all or most of it. This should be a no brainer, in my opinion. I used this idea myself when detoxing from nicotine (but it also helps a great deal for opiate withdrawal and some other drugs too). It worked great for me. Let me give you an example that I used to quit smoking cigarettes, though this principle would help with any drug. Here is how it all played out for me:
I stopped smoking cigarettes one night, had my final cigarette, and went to bed. The next day I purposely slept in quite a bit, then woke up and started going about my day, without smoking of course. Now the first few hours were not so bad really as I have done that before naturally while smoking. So then you go through the afternoon and the evening, and by this time you are pretty antsy and wanting to smoke, of course. This is to be expected, withdrawal is setting in. Now here is the key: when it comes time to go to sleep again at the end of the first day, don’t. Just stay up. Get through the night however you know how, have a friend help distract you and keep you company, whatever. It is all worth it in the end. You stay up all night long and then go about your next day as if you are some sort of zen master who can stay calm without any sleep or cigarettes. Now I know this sounds crazy but trust me, you are getting it all over at once this way. In addition to these crazy ideas, you would also be drinking tons of fruit juice during this time, and lots of cranberry juice too. This will help flush the nicotine out of your system faster and put you into a more intense withdrawal.
This is a good thing, and it is exactly what we want. You stayed up all night long, you have not smoked for almost two full days, and you are plowing through the second day of not smoking like a zombie. It is nuts because you did not sleep the night before. And to top it all off, your withdrawal is getting really, really intense due to the constant juice you are drinking in order to flush your system out faster.
Now here is the payoff: at the end of the second day, when you are ready to pull your hair out, you have made it. You go home and eat a big meal and collapse into your bed, knowing that you have the next 2 or 3 days off of work (you have to plan this out in advance, obviously).
Then, you sleep.
If you did exactly what I said, then you will sleep long and hard, probably for close to 14 hours or so. Now, when you wake up from this nearly endless sleep, you will be through the worst of it. By far, you will be past the worst of the withdrawal, as it was just starting to peak right before you went to bed. During your 14 hours it kept getting a little better over time.
Your withdrawal will not be completely over when you wake up, but it will be mostly over. You will be “out of the woods.”
This technique will work for some drugs better than others, of course. If you prefer to avoid withdrawal symptoms, then learn when they occur and time it so that you are guaranteed to be sleeping during those times. You might have to get extreme in order to do so but it is probably worth it if the withdrawal is that uncomfortable.
Most people complain about this idea and think it sounds like torture. Come on folks, we are supposed to be drug addicts here! Staying up for a 36 hours or so should be a walk in the park for any of you…..at the very least you can grab some coffee or an energy drink or two and make this work for you. Do you want to change your life or not? It really is a tiny sacrifice for a huge payoff (you can avoid the worst of your withdrawal symptoms!).
Dealing with specific drug withdrawal symptoms
Using one drug to replace another is generally not a great idea, but in some cases, you can benefit greatly from taking over the counter medications to help with various withdrawal symptoms. Here are some solutions you can use to help you get through most drug detox (disclaimer: check with your doctor first, etc.):
Pain or headaches: Alternate 1,000 milligrams of Tylenol and 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen every 4 hours. So take the Tylenol, then 4 hours later take the Ibuprofen, then 4 hours later take the Tylenol again, etc.
Diarrhea: Use Imodium
Anxiety: Use 50 milligrams of Benadryl every 4 hours as needed.
Sleep: Use 50 milligrams of Benadryl at bedtime to help with sleep. Probably less effective if you are using it for anxiety instead.
Sleep: Take a l-o-n-g walk, like at least an hour or more, as you can physically tolerate it. As always, consult your doctor. But if you can do, say, 2 solid hours of continuous walking, your chances of sleeping that night will greatly increase.
Most of these medication fixes apply to opiate or heroin detox, but they can also treat symptoms that might occur with other drugs as well.
Ask for help
Get a trusted friend or family member involved. Have them offer to help you through the process and monitor you. Help hold you accountable.
If none of this helps…
Then get on the phone and call your local drug rehab or treatment center. See how they could possibly fund you for treatment. You might be surprised. There are some places/states/countries where you can go to treatment for free in some cases. It might pay to just call and find out your options.
Does anyone else have any good detox tips? Share with us and help each other out…..