Why At Home Opiate Detox Could be Dangerous

Home Detox opiates

Opiate Home Detox

A lot of people employ home opiate detox to get rid of their dependence. The primary reasons for this choice are privacy and low cost of therapy, but is it worth it? Opiate dependence is a recognized medical condition that warrants emergent and urgent treatment in the form of detoxification or rehabilitation. If you or your loved ones are looking to get rid of opiate addiction, it is recommended to seek professional help. This is because:

  • Opiate withdrawals are serious and highly uncomfortable for the user as well as for the entire family.
  • Unfortunately, traditional methods of rehabilitation and opiate cleanse require months to exert fruitful results. During this long duration, most abusers revert to opioid abuse due to non- compliance if opioid detox treatment is initiated at home without professional supervision.
  • With long –term opiate use, the nerves become overly sensitive and receptors become conditioned to the exogenous opiates. The entire process needs pharmacological intervention in order to facilitate the return of receptor sensitivity to normal levels.

What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal may produce undesirable symptoms that may reduce the compliance of abusers towards the opioid detox treatments. The classic symptoms include(3):

  • Changes in physical energy like fatigue, insomnia, recurrent bouts of yawning
  • Changes in mood, behavior and concentration like irritability, agitation, anxiety
  • Changes in the autonomic functions like tearing of eyes and watering of nose, profuse sweating and fever
  • Changes in motor productivity like muscle aches, spasms and bouts of deep tissue pain.
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, abdominal cramping
  • Piloerection (also known as goose bumps)
  • Dilation of pupils, appearance of haloes and poor sleep quality

You may begin to experience the disturbing withdrawal symptoms as early as 12 hours in case of heroin dependence. Methadone withdrawal symptoms are generally observed after 30 hours of last dose. The total duration of these withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person but typically decreases in intensity after a period of 2 weeks.

How traditional opiate detox/rehab work?

You may come across a lot of advertisements that deal with relieving opiate addiction with the help of pharmacological agents like methadone or buprenorphine. Most of these agents exert their action by slowing and decreasing the dose and euphoria associated with opiate intake. But there are a lot of drawbacks with this form of rehabilitation. Like:

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1. Even if you are taking pharmacological help in a semi-clinical setting, the chances are fair that you will experience the pain, agony and discomfort that may be comparatively less intense but can seriously affect the compliance to therapy.

2. The risk of adverse events and detox related issues is still high with slow pharmacological detox therapies that require expert team of medical professionals. Are you sure your center is equipped with necessary medical and technical facilities to manage any emergency situation/event?

3. Most importantly, most traditional detox treatments work by substituting the potent, short acting opiates with less potent, longer acting substitutes over a long period of time (also known as maintenance therapy). Unless highly supervised by a team of healthcare professionals, the desired results may take very long to appear.

4. Lastly and most importantly, the risk of death by accidental over dosage increases significantly since opiate detox at home (or in sub- clinical setting) decreases the tolerance and maximum effective dose of opiates). In case of a relapse, the death due to respiratory depression is very high even at a sub-optimal dosage.

What are the possible complications/dangers of Opiate Detox performed at home or in sub-clinical setting?

Because of all the possible withdrawal symptoms listed above, home opiate detox or rehabilitation in an ordinary center can lead to a variety of complications like:

  • Imbalance of serum electrolytes due to nausea, vomiting and impaired oral intake
  • Due to vomiting and weakness, the risk of aspiration is always high (that may lead to pneumonia or even death if not managed instantly by expert medical staff)
  • Diarrhea and impaired gut metabolism may lead to dehydration
  • Serious or malignant depression that may lead to suicidal ideation or self-harm.
  • Relapse is indeed the most dreadful complication in home opiate detox and sub-clinical settings.

Always remember, opiate withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable but you can make the best decision by choosing the least painful method of opioid cleanse i.e. Waismann Method that allow you to undergo opiate detoxification under sedation.

Why Waismann Method is a better choice when compared to traditional rehab and home opiate detox?

We offer an interventional and innovative treatment modality that has been in practice for decades. We help in a promoting a smooth and humane transition from opiate dependence to opioid detox without unnecessary risks to your physical and /or psychological health.

Rapid drug detoxification involves administration of opiate blocking agents in the system; however, the intensity of side effects and physical symptoms of withdrawal is minimal because of sedation. Moreover, instead of long-term dose adjustments lasting for weeks and months, our procedure usually requires a 60 to 90 minute session for the treatment in a 5 to 10 days inpatient stay.

A lot of centers pay little attention to the dose adjustments of different medications. We on the other hand, analyze all the patients and diagnose psychological issues like depression, bipolar disorders and affective disorders to warrant appropriate pharmacology. It is noteworthy that pre-existing psychological issues are often contributory factors in the opiate dependence and may lead to relapse if not addressed properly.

Research report published in the peer reviewed The American Journal of Psychiatry (1) suggested that history of post-traumatic disorders is reported 3 times more frequently in opiate users than control subjects. Another report published in Archives of General Psychiatry (2) suggested that approximately 77% of patients develop depression during therapy (17% develop major depression and 60% develop mild to moderate symptoms). However, even after 6 months of therapy, depressive symptoms improve in only 50% subjects suggesting a persistent need of evaluation and addressing psychiatric issues to prevent relapse.

1.  Cottler, L. B., Compton, W. M., Mager, D., Spitznagel, E. L., & Janca, A. (1992). Posttraumatic stress disorder among substance users from the general population. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149(5), 664-670.
2. Rounsaville, B. J., Weissman, M. M., Crits-Christoph, K., Wilber, C., & Kleber, H. (1982). Diagnosis and symptoms of depression in opiate addicts: course and relationship to treatment outcome. Archives of General Psychiatry, 39(2), 151.
3. Gold, M. S., & Kleber, H. D. (1979). A rationale for opiate withdrawal symptomatology. Drug and alcohol dependence, 4(5), 419-424.