Is It Safe to Detox on an Outpatient Basis?

In the past, drug and alcohol detox was considered to be a strict inpatient process. However, newer advances in treatment have given many facilities the tools and resources they need to help patients participate in detox services on an outpatient basis. This helps people who want to get clean, but may not be able to step away from familial or professional obligations. In fact, those with a strong family support structure benefit the most from an outpatient detox program.

While you may like the idea of an outpatient detox experience, it may not be the right type of treatment for you. Many factors go into deciding between an outpatient or inpatient program, so you will have to consult a treatment counselor to determine which is best for you. Depending on your age, gender, mental health status, and your specific type of addiction, you may be better helped in an inpatient environment. Addiction caregivers will have many questions about your situation. Try to answer them as honestly as possible. They’re only trying to help you get the treatment you need for your recovery.

Determining if Outpatient Detox is Right for You

Alcoholism withdrawal symptoms can actually be more intense than the withdrawal symptoms caused by quitting many different types of drugs. Alcohol affects the brain differently and, depending on the length of the addiction, can also cause very strong cravings. Many of the withdrawal symptoms can become severe enough to be life-threatening, which means you may need to be under the constant supervision that inpatient detox programs provide. This is why it’s often necessary to obtain a medical professional’s permission to participate in outpatient detox services. Withdrawal symptoms will vary, based on your length of addiction, and on the amount you typically drink. Here is a general guideline:

  • 6 to 24 hours after last drink – Withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge.
  • 36 to 72 hours after last drink – Withdrawal symptoms are at their strongest.
  • 2 to 10 days after last drink – The last of the withdrawal symptoms will fade away.

Detoxing from opioids is usually less dangerous, which means outpatient detox can be more successful in these cases. The problem is with the cravings and certain withdrawal symptoms that may tempt the individual to use again. While health concerns aren’t as extreme with opioid addiction, the risk of relapse plays a part in determining which type of detox is best. It will do no good to go through an outpatient detox if you won’t be able to stay clean through the process. Once you take another dose of the opioid, you’ll be starting over again. That may worsen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms you experience. Heroine is a fast-acting opioid, so withdrawal symptoms begin 8 to 24 hours after last use, and can last for up to 10 days. The withdrawal symptoms that result from long-acting opioids can take from 12 to 48 hours to manifest, but they can last for up to 20 days.

What Can You Expect from Withdrawal

The detox experience is different for each individual. The cravings may be more intense for some, while the withdrawal symptoms may also vary. The type of substance you commonly used, as well as the duration of your addiction, will determine how withdrawal symptoms will affect you. For those suffering from alcoholism, anxiety, increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate, dehydration, and nausea are common. The individual may also experience sleep difficulties that can complicate the experience. You may experience some of these symptoms, or all of them.

While withdrawal from opioids isn’t as life-threatening as alcohol withdrawal, it can present challenges to getting clean. You may need to be evaluated daily to determine if the prescribed medication is helping you cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include frequent sweating and teary eyes, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, muscle cramping, and diarrhea. Depending on how strong your addiction is, these symptoms can be extremely severe, affecting your ability to function on a day to day basis. If this is the case for you, it may end up becoming preferable to switch to an inpatient program.

Choosing an Outpatient Detox Program

Just as you would want to take your time to select an inpatient program, choosing an outpatient detox service should not be done hastily. There are a number of factors you will want to consider, starting with determining which facilities are equipped to help you. As the above examples illustrated, detoxing presents unique challenges in relation to the specific type of addiction. Just as alcohol and opioid addictions result in different withdrawal symptoms, each type of drug causes its own set of withdrawal symptoms. Each drug also requires a different detox method, and individual treatment facilities may be limited in the types of addiction they can treat. For that reason, it’s important to determine if the facility you choose has the resources and experience to help you get clean from your particular substance.

Additionally, the geographic location of the facility may also make a difference. In order to participate in an outpatient detox program, you will have to ensure you can make it to the facility for your treatments. You may also need to attend counseling and evaluations at specific times throughout the detox process. This means being able to make it to the facility on time and on designated days, so you should ensure you have a way to get to the facility. This may mean relying on public transportation or finding a treatment center that’s within walking distance of your home. Depending on your situation, this may be an important feature to consider. A detox is challenging enough without running the risk that you’ll miss important appointments.

If you think outpatient detox is right for you, consulting one of our counselors can help you take the next step. Call us at 877-027-9048 to learn more about this option, and to determine if outpatient detox is safe for you. While there will still be a long road to recovery, the first step is getting sober and staying clean. We can help you do that, so you’ll be better equipped to pursue your recovery.