Last Updated on November 18, 2020 by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
As information becomes more widely available thanks to the internet, some substance abusers have recently taken it upon themselves to handle the extremely uncomfortable process of detoxing on their own without an addiction treatment center in Los Angeles.
Maybe they don’t have the insurance to help them pay for treatment, maybe their shame (common in addiction) is stopping them from revealing their addiction to others. Or perhaps they’re simply underestimating the severe discomfort involved in the process.
But no matter the reason behind it, detoxing at home not only severely damages the odds of a full recovery, it can also end up being deadly when detoxing from three drugs in particular.
Which Is the Deadliest and Hardest Drug to Quit?
While withdrawals from most illicit substances can be incredibly uncomfortable, detoxing from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids can actually end up costing you your life.
Let’s take a look at each and what makes them some of the hardest drugs to quit on the street today.
Alcohol and Benzodiazepines
It may surprise you to learn that one of the most widely used and legal drugs is actually one of the deadliest in terms of withdrawals. Though alcohol has become a staple of American life for many, prolonged abuse and addiction can make it difficult and deadly to detox from this prolific drug.
The culprit here is the brain’s neurotransmitter GABA. This chemical is responsible for calming down the mind’s activity and alcohol tends to increase its potency. As the potency of GABA returns to normal during detoxing though, the brain overcompensates and is launched into a flurry of activity, resulting in hallucinations, agitation, restlessness, and deadly seizures.
This state, called delirium tremens, is one of the main reasons why detoxing from alcohol at a professional facility is so important.
In the same vein as alcohol, detoxing from benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium can also be deadly due to their ability to intensify the effects of GABA. As such, anyone detoxing from benzodiazepines should also seek out professional help.
While alcohol and benzodiazepines are deadly purely because of their withdrawal symptoms alone, the threat to your life from opioids actually comes from the lethality of relapsing.
As most opioid-dependent users know, relapse is incredibly common among heroin and prescription painkiller addicts. One study found that the relapse rate was actually around 91% among some users. But what makes this aspect of opioid dependence so deadly is the volatility of tolerance.
Opioids are notorious for building up tolerance quite quickly, causing users to seek out more of the drug in order to achieve the same high. But just as tolerance builds quickly, it also drops much faster than most people know.
As such, a recovering addict that’s stayed clean for a week but relapsed may turn back to the same dosage which is now far more than the body can handle. And since around 59% of users end up relapsing within just one week, this aspect of opioid addiction is especially deadly.
Detoxing Alone: Not Worth the Risk
With the deadly detox effects of alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, it’s no wonder that these three are some of the hardest drugs to quit today.
That’s why it’s so essential to partner with a professional detox facility to support you through the especially painful withdrawals from these drugs. Not only will they make the process infinitely more comfortable, they’ll also have the expertise and equipment necessary to save your life should your withdrawals become deadly.