The Risks of Trying To Detox at Home and Reasons To Join One of The Recovery Centers in WV

  • Every journey to recovery begins with detoxification, with practically no exceptions. It is the first step toward freedom from addiction, and likely one of the most physically challenging stages of it. Those who may fear the rehab process or be discouraged from it may opt for DIY detox. But should you be trying to detox at home? No – as treatment professionals, and for your own health and safety, we must be absolutely clear and upfront about this.

At Harmony Ridge Recovery, we have years of experience with addiction treatment. We have seen how dangerous and debilitating it can be to attempt detox outside of clinical, supervised settings. So here we will explain why, offering our experience and medical literature to illustrate these points. As we do, we will also go through reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV for this critical stage of rehab.

What is Detox?

Initially, we need to define detox in the context of addiction. That’s because “detoxing” and “cleansing” have acquired rather different, and rather vague, meanings in everyday language. They often refer to diets and deal with fats and food toxins, but these are vastly different from addiction detox.

In brief, we may use NCBI’s definition of detox as our starting point:

“Detoxification is a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/or dependent on substances of abuse. Detoxification seeks to minimize the physical harm caused by the abuse of substances.”

As you can see, this definition already suggests why one should not be trying to detox at home. Detox should only occur in medical detox centers, so that it can best serve all of its purposes. If this seems vague, as we’ve only just started, allow us to explain.

A close-up of a couple holding hands.
In all cases, detox is a challenging first step that requires continuous support.

The Key Components of Detox

As NCBI notes, detox follows a specific series of steps. As these also serve as standalone reasons to join one of the recovery centers in West Virginia, we can outline them here as:

  • Evaluation, where the individual can be assessed thoroughly and properly. This “serves as the basis for the initial substance abuse treatment plan once the patient has been withdrawn successfully”.
  • Stabilization, where the individual can receive medication, psychological support, and clinical services to attain a “substance-free state”. As they enter rehab, this stage also serves to “[familiarize] patients with what to expect in the treatment milieu and their role in treatment and recovery”.
  • Fostering a patient’s entry into treatment, as detox readies the individual for continued rehab toward complete recovery. At this stage, “the patient agrees to participate in a continuing care plan, with details and contacts established prior to the completion of detoxification”.

Evidently, this series of steps cannot be followed in DIY detox. This means that, even disregarding health risks and complications, home detox can virtually never succeed in leading to actual recovery. The individual cannot evaluate or stabilize themselves, nor can they be expected to pursue continuing care. Completing detox often brings a premature sense of victory, which can only harm the unsupervised individual.

Trying To Detox At Home; The Challenges

Even before entertaining a possible completion of DIY detox, one must remember how truly difficult it is. The reason why most detox requires Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is that, simply, detox is too challenging for most people.

The three main challenges that follow are all excellent reasons to join one of the recovery centers in West Virginia.

Withdrawal Symptoms

First come withdrawal symptoms. As the individual begins to detox, the body begins to crave the substance more fiercely. As the body has typically become dependent on the substance at this stage, withdrawal symptoms soon emerge.

A woman’s extended hand holding white pills.
Trying to detox at home often can’t overcome withdrawal symptoms, the way medically-assisted detox can.

Symptoms can differ quite significantly from person to person depending on addiction severity, the exact substance, and other factors. Still, the vast majority of them can severely impact everyday life, and many can put the individual’s health at risk. AAC lists the following as common withdrawal symptoms regardless of substance:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Trembling and tremors
  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Hunger or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

As you can see, withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological. In the mildest cases they might just be manageable with mental fortitude and care, but they’re typically intense and recurring. If you’re trying to detox at home, they will be your first challenge – and only one of three.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

After acute intoxification, and after having dealt with withdrawal symptoms, comes Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This cluster of symptoms has a unique inherent challenge of its own, which absolutely qualifies as one of the key reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV.

Unlike PAWS symptoms, withdrawal symptoms have a clear timeline and a shorter duration. PAWS symptoms may continue for months, or in some cases even years. In addition, many overlap with withdrawal symptoms, depriving the individual of a sense of progress. Without proper addiction therapy, PAWS cannot often be overcome.

A man in a black blazer sitting indoors and holding his head.
PAWS symptoms are incredibly hard to deal with alone, adding to the reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV.

For reference, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) identifies the following PAWS symptoms:

  • Difficulty with cognitive tasks, such as learning, problem-solving, or memory recall
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Depressed mood
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Difficulty maintaining social relationships
  • Craving originally abused substances
  • Apathy or pessimism
  • Disturbances in sleep patterns
  • Increased sensitivity to stress

Finally, they “might flare up even without any clear stimulus”, making dealing with them an even more monumental task. Both physically and psychologically, very few are prepared for this challenge, even outside of health risks.

Post-Detox Behavioral Patterns

Third and last in this set of challenges come behavioral patterns. Where detox helps one overcome the physical, proper detox procedures uproot the mental. Thus, a key argument against trying to detox at home is, simply, that the individual cannot overcome operant conditioning by themselves.

This is also one of the key reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV; addiction treatment providers offer behavioral therapies to facilitate recovery. DIY detox cannot do so, nor does it typically intend to; the individual only strives for physical freedom.

Analyzing behaviorism, PsychologyToday offers an excellent definition of operant conditioning:

“Operant conditioning is a form of learning in which an organism modifies its behavior in response to repeated rewards or punishments. A child who touches a hot stove, for example, will be burned; that negative consequence will likely lead them to avoid touching hot stoves in the future.”

In the case of addiction, addictive substances create both a reward in the high and a punishment in withdrawal. Thus, the individual becomes conditioned to seek the substance. In turn, this necessitates specialized therapy and case management to overcome; the average person can simply not reverse their conditioning.

A depressed man in a black shirt laying on a wooden table.
Operant conditioning makes depression a very common outcome of trying to detox at home.

Trying to Detox at Home; An Incomplete and Risky Pursuit

In summary, home detox is neither safe nor likely to succeed. It’s typically an incomplete pursuit, which only pronounces the risks and makes success less likely.

WebMD summarizes this point by highlighting the following shortcomings of home detox:

  • Lack of professional guidance and supervision
  • Inability to acquire detox medication
  • Increased likelihood of relapse
  • Higher chances of overdose

As you can see, we’re not so strongly opposed to home detox out of personal interest. It is simply incomplete by definition, and the results of failure may range from relapse to serious risk of overdose.

Reasons To Join One Of The Recovery Centers In WV

Having established the above, we may now argue why recovery centers are typically your best option for detox. To do so, we will dedicate due space to each of the 4 main advantages they offer.

#1 Eliminating Risks

Perhaps most significantly, supervised detox and subsequent treatment effectively eliminate risks. Patients receive treatment in clinical settings, safely removed from distractions and triggers. They receive FDA-approved medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and remain under close medical supervision to manage the process as effectively as possible. Finally, they are guided to additional treatment that can best secure a complete, holistic recovery.

A woman sitting on a couch as her therapist takes notes.
With clinical supervision and case management, detox can be truly safe and effective.

#2 Receiving Psychiatric Care

Trying to detox at home often fails due to co-occurring mental health disorders. This is what professionals refer to as dual diagnosis and can include an array of mental health conditions, such as:

NIMH explains the significance of this, as mental health disorders and substance use disorders (SUDs) often fuel one another. This is unfortunately true, and detox which fails to account for the former will typically fail to address the latter.

Moreover, NIDA finds dual diagnosis to be unfortunately common; in 2018, 37.9% of adults with SUDs also had mental illnesses. In addition, 18.2% of those with mental illness also had an SUD.

#3 Specialized Detox Treatments

There are few more compelling reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV than specialized detox treatments. As we’ve covered manifold in the past and just above, each substance differs in terms of addiction. There is no universal detox model for every addiction, so specialization is often essential.

To illustrate this point, simply consider how many different types of prescription drugs and illicit substances fuel addiction today:

Evidently, trying to detox at home cannot match the expertise of treatment professionals who deeply understand what each addiction requires. From the first step of detox to a complete rehab process, personalized and tailored care will offer the better option.

A therapist holding her glasses as she listens to her clients.
From detox to individual and group therapy, each type of addiction requires a different approach.

#4 Post-detox; Behavioral Therapies

Having touched on operant conditioning above, here we must stress this point again. DIY detox will typically not account for operant conditioning, which addiction treatment providers come equipped to address.

As regards behavioral therapy specifically, the 4 primary types employed by professionals are:

In addition, other therapy types will serve to guide the individual through the recovery process and complete rehab. These vary, but typically include:

These will not enhance detox itself, by all means, but they will make it a complete endeavor. They will allow the individual to fully and truly break free from addiction, in a way that standalone detox cannot.

What Comes After Detox?

Now, if you’ve found the above reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV compelling enough, you may still be wondering what exactly comes after detox. While this is not our main subject this time, we should still outline the typical rehab journey that trying to detox at home fails to follow.

Rehab stages will often progress alongside the following program types:

  • Residential/Inpatient Programs. The first step after detox, a residential program will entail hospitalization and clinical care. At this stage the patient may receive appropriate pharmacotherapy and overcome the withdrawal phase.
  • Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs. Upon completing a PHP, most patients will progress to an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Such programs will allow full freedom of residence and focus more strongly on therapy, eventually loosening into Outpatient Programs (OPs) or concluding.

Rehab is of course quite flexible, so not everyone may follow the same journey. Milder cases may conclude quicker and with fewer steps, while severe cases may require repeat treatment. Still, in all cases, rehab ends with aftercare programs that seek to prevent relapse by providing continued care and open communication channels.

A hooded individual watching a fireworks display in the sky outdoors.
Trying to detox at home rarely paves a path to success, but following a structured rehab program does.

What About Insurance?

Finally, we must make a note of rehab insurance coverage. WebMD’s above article rightly notes that rehab costs are a prime reason why many people are trying to detox at home, despite all the reasons to join one of the recovery centers in WV, and understandably so.

First, if you choose Harmony Ridge Recovery, we must note that we accept all major insurance providers, including:

We understand that different plans and different providers, alongside state-side factors and addiction factors, may considerably affect your final coverage. As these factors vary and will depend on your unique case, we encourage you to contact our teams at (855) 942-3797. Our representatives are available 24/7 and will gladly offer assistance.

Whether you choose us or not, we understand insurance coverage can be confusing and complicated. If you’d like to get more information before contacting your provider, we welcome you to explore our blog content as we’ve covered this subject before.


In summary, trying to detox at home is typically both an incomplete endeavor and one likely to fail. It does not put the individual on the true, structured path to recovery. It can put your health and safety at risk, including increasing the chances of relapse and overdose. And perhaps just as importantly, relapsing can discourage you from trying to break free from addiction again.

While only cursory, we hope this article helped inform you of these dangers and helped convince you to seek professional help. If you now believe Harmony Ridge Recovery is the right choice for you, please feel free to contact us today. Our experienced staff, state-of-the-art facilities, and unique location in West Virginia will make your journey to recovery unique and memorable.


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