Detox | 6 min read

Thinking About Doing A Drug Detox At Home? You Might Want To Think Twice

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On August 27, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On May 7, 2022

Dialectical Behavior Therapy in NYC
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Quitting a drug is an extremely valuable, courageous, and powerful way to remove your life from drug addiction’s clutches. That being said, there are ways to go about detoxification that are safe and smart, and there are ways that are more dangerous and leave opportunities for bad things to happen.

One might think that doing a drug detox at home is a safe and smart option, destined for success, but that is not the case for most people. Drug addictions are chemical, physical, psychological, and extremely mentally challenging. There is truly no easy way to overcome addiction.

So why is it unsafe and not a great idea to go through a drug detox at home? Most people assume that because they have their friends and family, their comforts like their bed, favorite foods, and personal items, and they are in an environment where they feel comfortable and safe, it is a good place to go through the detoxification process.

Unfortunately, this is not the reality. Drug detoxes can be extremely painful and uncomfortable and can even make a person violently ill, depending on the drug. In addition, many things can go wrong, causing a person to have lasting and extreme long-term side effects. Plus, there is the ability to relapse and end the suffering of withdrawal when a person is not under medical supervision.

If you or someone you care about is thinking about doing a drug detox at home, please continue reading to find out more information about why this is an unsafe, bad, and potentially life-threatening idea.

Why Doing A Drug Detox At Home Can Be Harmful To Your Health & Well-Being

As stated earlier, many people think doing a drug detox at home is safe and smart. And while there are nuggets of truth to that assumption, the reality of the situation is very different and serious.

Detoxing from home, for many people, is their top choice for where they want to detox, which makes perfect sense. It is your home, your sanctuary, a place surrounded by friends and family for moral and emotional support. You have all you need at your fingertips, and you know your space.

However, the dangers are underlying and often mistaken as issues that “will never happen to me.”

The detoxification process can be extremely difficult and wildly painful or uncomfortable for many people. In addition, many side effects can come with detoxifying from certain drugs that can make a person violently ill.

Some drugs can create situations where people experience problematic symptoms such as the following.

  • Hallucinations.
  • Become extremely paranoid.
  • Become temporarily delusional.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Extreme mood swings

Why Doing A Drug Detox At Home Can Be Harmful To Your Health

These symptoms can cause a person going through detox to experience the world differently than they usually would, making them act differently.

This can make them do harmful things to themselves or other people in their vicinity. Because of this risk, it is dangerous for people to be around others without proper monitoring. It is also dangerous for them to be around themselves. Thus having a medical professional or detox-specific staff that works at a facility is a huge help to mitigate the harm they can do to themselves.

Home can also be a triggering environment. Most drug addicts and people with substance use disorders have triggers associated with the drug they are addicted to. This is due to a psychological phenomenon called conditioning.

Conditioning is the process in which a certain environment, sound, smell, feeling, person, word, item, or more causes a person or animal to react. However, the reaction is conditioned, so even if the particular stimulus is different, the reaction will be the same.

For example, the famous little Albert experiment was when a child was shown white fuzzy rabbits, rats, and toys. Each time the white fuzzy item was presented to the baby, scientists would hit a gong, scaring him. Eventually, the simple sight of a white fuzzy item caused the child to cry uncontrollably even though the stimulus of hitting the gong was gone.

The same can happen with addicts who are physically addicted to a drug but conditioned to want the drug in certain environments, when feeling certain ways, around certain people, etc.

Thus, being in an environment, such as their home, where they likely used to take the drugs can become a trigger. Fighting these triggers is a part of the psychological healing associated with recovery from drug addiction. Living and moving through these triggers in a former addict’s life is a necessary part of healing, but that can only be achieved once a person is successful off of drugs.

The last and most major risk of going through detox at home is the risk of relapse. Being at home without the proper supervision and attention allows for the chance for an addict to relapse and take the drug again.

Relapsing can potentially be fatal for many people. Relapsing is when a person has stopped taking a drug, intending to quit, for however long a time, and then starts taking the drug again. Usually, the user jumps right back to their former dosage, which can quickly become fatal depending on the drug and the amount of time since their last dosage.

Many drugs cause the user to build up a tolerance to the drug, which means that as they take the drug, they feel the effect less and less until they bump up the dose. When you detox, the tolerance goes down. Relapsing to the same dosage you were taking when you quit can result in an overdose that could be fatal.

The Benefits Of Seeking Professional Help Instead Of Detoxing From A Drug At Home

There are a large number of benefits to seeking professional help rather than detoxing by yourself at home. For some drugs, there is a huge difference in the detoxification and withdrawal intensity and length if done with professional supervision. Opioids, for example, can be a particularly nasty withdrawal experience. However, that can be mitigated with substitutions, medications, and weaning of the drug.

Many people will cut the drug they are using out of their life cold turkey to rid themselves of it. Yet that can backfire drastically on people. Quitting a cold turkey drug can worsen withdrawal symptoms and make a person relapse.

Other benefits include having a safe space with professional staff and assistants who are trained on how to help you. Professional care and detox facilities are staffed by people who know what they are doing and want to help you regain control of your life. In addition, the staff at care facilities can help make you as comfortable as possible while you detox and experience withdrawal.

Benefits Of Seeking Professional Help Instead Of Detoxing From A Drug At Home

Having experts on hand to help you is very important. Your family and friends will likely do everything they can to keep you comfortable and safe, but they are not trained in the intricacies of detoxification and withdrawal.

Plus, if there is a medical emergency, your friends and family may be unable to help you as a professional can. Or, if there is a medical emergency and you are by yourself, you may end up in danger or harm because no one around can help you.

It is best to rely on people who have dedicated years of their life to helping addicts get clean and who understand that the processes of detox and withdrawal are not easy. You are in good hands if you go to the proper care facility!

How To Get The Appropriate Drug Detox Help Instead Of Doing It Alone At Home

Getting the proper help is very important. You can do research online about detox centers in your area, as well as rehabilitation places with good reviews. You can talk to your insurance company to see what is covered by insurance to help you narrow down your search.

Communicate with the detox centers or rehab centers in your area to see if you like the vibe of the place and to see if you would feel safe there. It is important that you feel like you would be safe and secure in the detox center.

There are many amazing rehabilitation and detox centers nationwide, so most of the search is just narrowing down to which one you want to go to. However, in the end, as long as you leave the center feeling better, clean of drugs, and ready to start a new chapter, it will be a success.

If you or someone you love is considering dealing with detoxification at home or looking for a place to go, please contact a premier detox facility immediately. Everyone deserves to live a beautiful life free from addiction.

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Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.

Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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  1. Gupta M, Gokarakonda SB, Attia FN. Withdrawal Syndromes. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed August 27, 2022.