A study of 50 opiate addicts attending a London service for treatment of drug dependence found that 47 subjects had previously made at least one attempt at self-detoxification. These subjects reported 212 previous attempts. Although 30 subjects reported having managed to complete at least one attempt, the success rate per episode was low (24%). One of the most commonly reported methods, used by 28 subjects, involved an abrupt cessation of opiates ('cold turkey'). Of the drugs used in their attempts at self-detoxification, benzodiazepines were reported by 24 subjects and opiates by 20. Practical strategies such as distraction and avoidance were also used. Self-help detoxification materials for opiate addicts might be useful.