The Real Risks of Detox
Table of Contents
- The Real Risks of Detox
- Why Can’t I Just Quit “Cold Turkey”?
- The Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Medical Detox for Benzodiazepines
- Heroin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Kratom and Other Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
- Cocaine, Meth and Other Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
- The Importance of Medical Detox In Treating Substance Abuse
- Detox Can Minimize Your Uncomfortable Withdrawal Symptoms
- You Don’t Need to Detox in a Hospital
- Get Effective Medical Detox Options With Our Help
- FAQs on Dangerous Drugs to Quit Without Detox
- Medically Reviewed By
As we all know, some drugs are more dangerous than others, especially when it comes to getting off them. However, many people would be surprised at which drugs are actually deadly if stopped outside of a medical detox program.
Despite the current fentanyl epidemic that is killing hundreds every day, the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from are alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiates. Keep reading to find out more about the most dangerous drugs to quit without medical detox, and how you can find help getting clean today!
Why Can’t I Just Quit “Cold Turkey”?
When someone who has developed a dependence or addiction to a substance abruptly stops taking said substances, they can experience a host of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that are extremely uncomfortable, painful, and even life-threatening.
In order to help minimize the effects and danger that withdrawal symptoms can pose, it is important that addicts undergo medical detox before entering drug treatment. Depending on the severity of addiction, the frequency of use, the length of time a person has been using, and whatever ingredients are in their preferred cocktail, medical detox can range from necessary, to life-threateningly necessary.
While many drugs have significant withdrawal symptoms, the following four substances have potentially life-threatening withdrawals that will require medical detox.
The Risks of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Although many people might think heroin would be at the top of the list, it is actually alcohol that is atop the list of the most dangerous drugs to quit without medical detox.
Despite how widely socially accepted this substance is alcohol abuse is a very real problem and one that can have devastating consequences.
- Estimates of death rates among people who have been linked to alcohol withdrawal lie somewhere near 1 in 400 people.
- There are over 15 million people in the United States who suffer from alcoholism, so 1 in 400 is a pretty high number!
The reason why alcohol is so dangerous to detox from is that, after forming a physical dependency on this substance, it causes the body to go into a state of shock when removed. Usually occurring within a few hours after a person’s last drink, alcohol withdrawal takes place in both the brain and the body.
The First Phase of Alcohol Withdrawal: Side Effects
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Abdominal Pains
- High blood pressure
The Second Phase of Alcohol Withdrawal
- High body temperature or hyperthermia
- Increased Heart Rate & Blood Pressure
- Increased Anxiety
- Increased Agitation
- Severe Stomach Pains
- Decreased Appetite
- Incessant Sweating
The last and most Dangerous Phase of Alcohol Withdrawal can present more intense withdrawal symptoms, including hallucinations, fevers, seizures, possible liver or kidney failure, heart attack, and delirium tremens.
This all depends on the severity of consumption, length of time drinking, etc. Nevertheless, even people who have only been drinking a short time, but in large amounts, should absolutely consider medical detox the safer bet when they are ready to stop drinking.
Alcohol detox would be required in cases such as this in order to control the shakiness and agitation, and detox staff can perform a full evaluation of any underlying co-occurring disorders. In the detox process, anticonvulsant medications, beta-blockers, or benzodiazepines can be administered to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
Medical Detox for Benzodiazepines
For some strange reason, it has become increasingly popular among young adults to abuse benzos such as Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan. Many of these young adults and adolescents are initially exposed to these anti-anxiety medications by a doctor, as rates of depression and anxiety have reportedly skyrocketed among young adults over the last decade.
The danger of these prescription sedatives comes in the fact that they build up and make changes to the user’s brain chemistry over time, as that is the way they were designed to affect the central nervous system. When a person abruptly stops using them, it can wreak potentially life-threatening damage on the brain, and usually requires medical detox to safely withdraw from.
- It can take the body up to 40 hours to eliminate half the dose a person takes of Xanax at any given time.
- Since the actual effects of the drug only last a few hours, many people take more to achieve the high they are looking for, unaware that there is already a substantial amount being stored in their system.
The Main and Most Severe Withdrawal Symptoms of Benzos
- Increased Anxiety
- Panic Attacks
- Increased Heart Rate
- Convulsions and Seizure
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome
- Suicidal Ideation
Much like alcohol, those who undergo medical detox for Benzodiazepines are given addiction medicine in order to help the sufferer slowly wean off the drug. Healthcare professionals at the medical detox center can provide patients with non-addictive medications that will help smooth out their recovery process.
It is important to note that any medications given during detox are gradually tapered off and given on a set schedule that is carefully monitored and supervised by experienced and licensed medical detox personnel.
Heroin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Kratom and Other Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Prescription opioids such as Oxycontin and morphine, as well as illicit opioids like fentanyl and heroin, are all common culprits of drug abuse. While these are often used to treat pain, their interactions with opioid receptors in the brain can also cause users to feel pleasure and extreme euphoria.
Oxycontin belongs to a family of drugs known as opioids, which are synthetic derivatives of natural opiate drugs such as heroin, morphine, and opium. Used to relieve the pain of surgical and medical procedures, Oxycontin is extremely addictive and users can easily form a drug dependence on these substances.
Many people who start out using Oxycontin eventually find their habit too expensive or difficult to continue once their opioid prescriptions expire, and gradually transition towards the cheaper and more rapidly available drug, heroin.
For those who abruptly stop the use of the drugs, the effects are often described as being the worst case of the flu. The withdrawal symptoms, while not particularly life-threatening, are extremely painful, and many who are addicted end up using opioid drugs again in order to stop the pain they are experiencing.
Even kratom, which has been used to come off other forms of opiates, primarily heroin addiction, also holds the potential for abuse and kratom addiction. Among the most dangerous drugs to quit without medical detox, kratom isn’t high on the list, but the mental health effects from withdrawal, such as depression, have been known to be rather profound.
In fact, enough studies have been done noting the negative side effects of Kratom use for quitting heroin, that it is becoming a less commonly used recovery method.
Common Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Frequent nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision and overactive tear ducts
- Anxiety, agitation, and mood swings
- Extreme abdominal and muscle cramps
- Restless Legs
- Cold Sweats
- Muscle aches
- Extreme Fatigue and lethargy
Cocaine, Meth and Other Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
Stimulants are substances that have the ability to increase alertness, focus, and energy levels, but when not taken as prescribed, can lead to a number of physical and mental health problems. Illicit stimulants like crystal meth and crack cocaine are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the US, as well as some of the most dangerous.
When stimulant use is stopped abruptly, withdrawal symptoms can occur. The severity of these symptoms depends on several factors, including the type and amount of stimulant taken, the duration of use, and the individual’s metabolism.
Meth and cocaine withdrawal symptoms, while not necessarily life-threatening, can be incredibly uncomfortable and may lead to relapse. This can be incredibly dangerous as when relapsing, many individuals will take higher doses of an abused drug, which can lead to a fatal overdose.
Quitting crystal meth or cocaine can cause several physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal, including:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased appetite
- Intense cravings
The most common symptom of stimulant withdrawal is fatigue. When a person stops taking stimulants, their body is no longer able to maintain the level of energy it had prior to the cessation of use.
This can leave a person feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically. Depression is another common symptom of stimulant withdrawal, which can lead to suicidal thoughts and ideations. Because of this, those recovering from cocaine and meth abuse will often be given medications to help regulate brain chemistry during their recovery process.
The Importance of Medical Detox In Treating Substance Abuse
If you are struggling with a substance use disorder of any kind, getting professional help can make quitting drugs and alcohol a much smoother and safer process. There are many addiction treatment services available to those who are trying to overcome an alcohol or drug dependency. For many people, their first line of defense will be a medical detox program.
Medical detox is a process used to help individuals overcome addiction and lead healthier lives. During a medical detox, the body is allowed to rid itself of the chemicals and toxins associated with the substance being abused. Detoxification is the first step in the recovery process, as well as a necessary prerequisite for any further treatment methods.
Dual Diagnosis Support During a Medical Detox
For those who are struggling with a co-occurring mental illness or other medical condition, detox programs can also help address any intense symptoms or emergency situations that may arise during the recovery process in relation to these conditions.
The detox process typically begins with a medical evaluation, in which the patient’s physical and mental health is assessed. The medical team will also discuss the history of drug and alcohol use with the patient, as well as any medications they are currently taking. From there, a customized treatment plan will be created that outlines the specific goals of the detox process.
The next step is the actual detoxification process, which typically involves a combination of medications, nutritional counseling, and behavioral therapy. During this time, the patient will gradually be weaned off the substance of abuse. Medications may be used to manage difficult withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Detox Can Minimize Your Uncomfortable Withdrawal Symptoms
So, those nasty and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that you are worried about? Contrary to rumor, detox will minimize those. You won’t need to worry about intense body cramping, nausea, diarrhea, or other symptoms, because an entire team of medical professionals is on your side, making sure you are as comfortable as possible.
Through the use of prescription medications and interventions, medical staff can reduce complications like anxiety, depression tremors, seizures, sweats, and headaches. While the experience certainly won’t be pleasant, it will be far better than you attempting to quit cold turkey at home.
Avoid Complications: The Most Dangerous Drugs to Quit Without Medical Detox
While opioid withdrawal is uncomfortable but not life-threatening, alcohol withdrawal can cause a few serious complications. One of these hurdles that’s possible is delirium tremens, which could cause severe agitation and confusion, fever, seizures, and hallucinations. In some people, it can even be lethal, which is why it’s essential that you go to detox if you abuse alcohol.
If you do develop delirium tremens, medical staff at the drug and alcohol detox center will treat you with fluids and medications through IVs to stabilize your condition. They might also sedate you until the worst of the suffering is behind you.
You Don’t Need to Detox in a Hospital
For some, the fear of detox is due to a fear of being in a hospital. That’s legit. Hospitals are filled with sick people, overwhelming medical equipment, and sterile gray walls. However, don’t worry about that, as detox can happen in an outpatient clinic as an alternative location—a great option for those who fear hospitals.
In fact, drug and alcohol detox programs intentionally select room décor that is warm, cozy, and inviting to differentiate themselves from the hospital and make you feel more at home.
Whether you are detoxing from alcohol dependence, or have used kratom to come off opiates and now need help with kratom addiction, medically supervised detox facilities within rehabs offer much more comfort and services than hospital detox does.
Get Effective Medical Detox Options With Our Help
Medical detox is crucial in helping those addicted get to a substance-free state and fully prepared for treatment. If you are looking for medical detox and drug treatment services that are effective, proven to work, and run by compassionate and experienced staff, Find Addiction Rehabs is your first choice.
Our partner facilities are safe, secure, and comfortable, and our staff provides around-the-clock monitoring, evaluation, and supervision to ensure that the withdrawal process is as safe and pain-free as possible. Give yourself a break, and reach out for help today!
FAQs on Dangerous Drugs to Quit Without Detox
What is the Most Severe Form of Addiction?
Any addictive substance can pose a risk of physical or psychological dependence with enough uses. However, there are certain substances that may become habit-forming more quickly than others. Currently, the substances considered to be the most dangerous and quick to become addicted to are:
- Heroin and fentanyl
How Long Does Withdrawal Last?
Withdrawal is a process that can be both uncomfortable and difficult to manage. It is the result of stopping or drastically reducing the use of addictive substances or behaviors. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or even months.
When it comes to substance abuse, the length of withdrawal will depend largely on the type of substance used. Different drugs produce different withdrawal symptoms and the intensity of those symptoms can vary depending on the individual’s body chemistry, the amount of the substance used, and how long the substance was used.
How Long is the Medical Detox Process?
The length of the detox process varies depending on the individual, the type of drug abuse, the severity of the addiction, and the medical history of the patient. Medical detox can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction and the substances involved.
What are the Seven Levels of Care in the Addiction Treatment Process?
Addiction treatment is a complex process that requires a patient to go through numerous levels of care to maintain sobriety. The seven levels of care in the addiction treatment process include:
- Inpatient Treatment
- Partial Hospitalization
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment
- Outpatient Treatment
- Aftercare Programs
Deborah Tayloe is a freelance writer specializing in health and sciences. Deborah earned a B.S.Ed. in Secondary Education/English, accompanied by a Spanish minor. Her writing expertise allows her to craft engaging, impactful articles to help people be well.
In addition, she holds a fully accredited Certificate of Natural Medicine and is a certified Herbalist. Through her understanding of complementary medicine, Deborah helps medical professionals give people the information they need to embrace natural approaches to wellness.
When she’s not working, Deborah trains for 5K races and advocates for animal rights.