When you’ve reached the point that you’re fully aware of your addiction, often the first reaction is, “I can kick this habit on my own.” Contrary to popular belief, self-detox or going “cold turkey” may work for those smoking cigarettes, but not for individuals suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. What many addicts fail to realize is that just as most substances and alcohol will have damaging affects when entering the body, they will also have serious affects when coming out of the system. Not to mention that addiction is a multi-faceted disease that requires much more than just kicking the urge to use.

Below is a more in-depth explanation for why it may not be the safest idea to self-detox without the assistance of a professional.

  1. Withdrawal Symptoms are Difficult

One of the biggest issues when it comes to detoxing from various substances is the varying withdrawal symptoms. Your body has essentially gotten used to your drug and alcohol consumption and as a result will have certain reactions once you stop using. Every drug is different and as such the withdrawal symptoms will also differ. There are some drugs that cause more physical withdrawal symptoms while others do more damage psychologically or emotionally. To give an idea however, here are a few of the symptoms you might experience during detox:

Emotional – a person going through withdrawal might experience emotional changes such as anxiety, the inability to sleep, lack of concentration, the desire to isolate, headaches, and irritability.

Physical – physical withdrawal symptoms might include changes such as increased perspiration, increased heart rate, heart palpitations, chest pain, tightness, or tension, tremors, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting,and difficulty breathing.

Severe Symptoms – There are more severe withdrawal symptoms that are often felt by those who suffer from addiction to alcohol and tranquilizers. Trying to self-detox with these substances can really be dangerous and also life threatening. Some of the symptoms you might experience could include: seizures, heart attack, stroke, hallucinations, and delirium tremens (DTs).

  1. Detox is Not Enough

As explained above, addiction is a multi-faceted disease that requires more than one form of treatment to fully recover. Simply stopping the use of substances is not enough to maintain sobriety in most cases. Addiction is not something that simply happens, it takes time to develop and there is typically a cause for the substance or alcohol use to begin with that must also be addressed. Whether an individual decided to use drugs or alcohol to mask emotions, to fit in, or due to their familial surroundings, these issues must be address to prevent the use from happening once again.

One (source) points out that the relapse rate after detox is still high, coming in at about 65 to 80 percent. It goes on to say that those who receive other forms of treatment through rehab are ten times more likely to stay sober.

  1. What Works for the Goose Isn’t Always Good for the Gander

You may have heard stories about someone who recently decided to kick the habit through self-detoxification and were successful. Though these stories are far and few in between, not everyone reacts the same, and not everyone will recover the same. For instance, some individuals can go cold turkey and fight through withdrawal symptoms and never use again, others may have to receive intensive therapy, while others may need inpatient care and sober living programs to really get back on their feet. No one person’s treatment plan is the same.

Working with a Rehab Facility

As you can see from the explanations above, self-detoxification is not always the best solution. It might be tempting, particularly for those who are embarrassed by their addiction and don’t want to reach out for help. However, when you consider the adverse withdrawal symptoms, the underlying cause of your addiction, and the fact that not all treatments work for every individual, you can see why it’s best to get help from a rehab facility or medical professionals. Working with a rehab facility whether inpatient or outpatient provides you with these benefits:

  • Medical Assistance During Detox – You might not be prepared for what your body will take you through as you begin to detox. Working with a rehab facility is ideal because you are provided with the assistance of medically trained professionals. They have alternative methods to deal with your withdrawal symptoms and are best equipped to determine when you need emergent care.
  • Therapy for Psychological Aspects of Addiction – Addiction is not only a physical but a psychological disease. If you don’t address the full cause of the problem, you will eventually resort to it once again. In rehabilitation programs however, you are provided with a trained counselor that can walk you through your issues and help you to find alternative ways to dealing with life’s occurrences. This greatly improves your chances of living a sober life.
  • Support of Others – Another thing that is great about going to rehab is that you’re provided with the support of others who are going through the same thing as you. Group therapy and simply living with other recovering addicts can provide you with valuable tools and relationships that you may not otherwise receive.

Self-detox might seem easy, affordable, and discreet, but in the end it could end up causing you more harm than good. If you’re ready to receive help with your addiction, it is best that you reach out to professionals who are trained and equipped to help you every step of the way. Though the road to recovery will be a long one, having the support of others is often the best and most effective solution.

For more information on self-detox and rehabilitation programs check out these sources below:

Addictions and Recovery, Withdrawal Symptoms, April 27, 2015. http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/withdrawal.htm

Health-Line.com, Supporting a Loved One Through Rehab, March 11, 2014. http://health-line.com/supporting-loved-one-rehab.html