Because of the way that the media alternately glamorizes and demonizes drug addiction and detox, it can be difficult for those suffering from a drug problem to know what to expect during detox and treatment. In fact, some portrayals of detox are so severe that countless addicts have delayed treatment because of detox-related fears. However, in most cases the portrayals are not based in reality. For many people detox is only a mild process lasting a few days, while for others it can be an extremely uncomfortable couple of weeks. The problem is that some people attempt to detox from drugs or alcohol on their own. While detox is relatively safe when done in a professional medical facility, there are certain potentially life-threatening risks involved with detoxing or quitting cold turkey at home.

Drug addiction can happen to anyone of any type of background, family or socio-economic standing. People that use illicit substances consistently will first develop a tolerance to these drugs, then physical dependence, and finally outright addiction. Neurological pathways in the brain are created to service the addiction process, and it is these same pathways that compel a person to use drugs over and over again despite severe consequences. The real trouble is that once physically addicted to a substance a person cannot just stop taking the drug and expect to be okay.

Changes in the brain and central nervous system caused by drug use are reversed when the substance is suddenly withheld from the body. This causes neurons and receptors in the brain that were previously inhibited to become quite abruptly uninhibited, causing a surge of hyperexcitability in the brain. This hyperexcitability can cause severe reactions during the detox process, including vomiting, insomnia, confusion, a strong desire to use again, exhaustion, seizures and in rare cases, death.

Unfortunately, addicts do not have a choice about undergoing the detox process – it is unavoidable. Because of the risks involved, detox should always occur in a medically equipped professional facility where symptoms can be managed and medicated where necessary. This is especially important for people who are addicted to alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines, as these drugs can cause severe reactions is the detox process is not gradual.

Additionally, the drug addiction treatment process can begin while the patient is detoxing, thereby preparing them for the next step of the process.

Detox is only the beginning of a lifetime of recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism. It must be followed by long-term treatment like an inpatient program, and outpatient program or a day/night treatment program. These types of addiction treatment solutions provide various therapies and a safe environment where a person is given all the tools and resources they need to maintain their newfound sobriety for life.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug addiction and considering quitting cold turkey, think twice before doing so. Pick up the phone for a free consult or click one of the links below to find out more and see if you might be at risk for potentially fatal detox complications.

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Author's Bio: 

RJ Hudson is a highly trained and versatile professional writer and editor.