What Is A Drug Detox?
A drug detox is the process of the physical detoxification of a person’s body from alcohol and drugs. This process is essential in helping a person get clean or sober who has a prolonged period of use and is unable to stop using due to withdrawal symptoms and cravings. When a person is entering into a treatment center, it is generally recommended that they are assessed for the need of a drug detox.
A person’s body over time builds of a tolerance to drugs and is able to function with a certain amount of toxins flowing through it. When an individual decided to get treatment and is no longer adding additional toxins to the body, the body can go into shock. A medical drug detox takes place with the supervision of medical professionals and addiction specialists and decreases medical risks associated with a person trying to recover from addiction.
Completing a drug detox is not a full recovery. Because drug and alcohol addiction affects both the physical and psychological health of an individual, it’s necessary to address both areas in order to make a complete and long lasting recovery possible. A detox is only the first step toward completing the goal of recovery. Once a patient has removed all traces of drugs and alcohol from their body, they will need to begin working on their cravings and the psychological aspects of their addiction. Doing so will contribute to a greater likelihood of a successful, long term recovery and will lower the risk of a relapse.
How Does A Drug Detox Work?
The method a person uses to detox will depend entirely on the type of substance they abused. It’s important to be thorough in your history of drug and alcohol use both in the past and in the present in order to detox in the safest, most appropriate way. A medical detox will begin with a complete cessation of drug and alcohol usage. As symptoms arise, medications may be used to help a patient get through the physical discomfort of the detox. These medications are temporary and used only in tandem with a detox. Some examples of medication used are:
- Sleep aids that are non addictive (for treating insomnia or other sleep disorders)
- Painkillers (to ease aches and pains)
- Benzodiazepines (to prevent seizures during an alcohol detox)
- Methadone, buprenorphine, or naloxone (for opioid detox and addiction)
Medications like these are always taken under the supervision of medical professionals experienced in drug detoxes.
The Stages Of Drug Detox.
Detoxing is often one of the most difficult steps of recovery because of the unpleasant physical effects it often has on the body. Some common symptoms include:
- body aches and pains
- uncontrollable trembling or tremors
- feelings of restlessness
- runny nose and eyes
- severe fatigue
- sleep disturbances
- severe changes in mood
- increased cravings
Other side effects can be more serious and can even become life threatening if an individual is detoxing without the supervision and care of medical professionals. Some factors that affect the length and severity of detox symptoms include the type of drug being abused, length of an individual’s addiction and use, using the drug in combination with alcohol or other substances, any co-occurring disorders, and how long a particular drug stays in the system.
In addition to the common side effects listed above, alcohol and certain drugs often have their own specific withdrawal symptoms. For example, a patient who is detoxing from opioids may experience severe depression and begin to have suicidal thoughts, increasing the risk of hurting themselves. If a person was prescribed an opioid for pain relief, the returning pain symptoms can become difficult to bear. This is why it’s so important to detox in a professional facility where an experienced staff can address a patient’s specific needs. Once you’ve completed detox safely, you can begin to look ahead to the next steps of recovery. Often this can be done in the same facility that helped you get through the detox.
At-Home Or Inpatient Drug Detox?
Individuals who try to get and stay off drugs by themselves almost inevitably fail – it is very difficult to go through withdrawal or at-home detox and usually people just stay on the drugs instead of actually following through. This is why at-home detox kits are ineffective and also potentially dangerous. A detox program should always be specifically tailored to an individual’s unique medical history and needs. This is something you can’t get from an impersonal at-home kit, or by even trying to detox on your own. A detox kit also won’t help you move on to the next stages of recovery – something that’s important for maintaining sobriety and lowering the chances of a relapse.
An inpatient drug detox is ideal for anyone who is serious about making changes in their lives when it comes to drug addiction. This is why inpatient detox is the most commonly used method for ridding the body of drugs and alcohol. A residential, inpatient program provides round the clock care to monitor and treat the symptoms of withdrawal and provide medical assistance if a medical emergency does arise. The length of an inpatient detox will depend on the severity of symptoms and an individual’s unique medical needs.
Other Detox Options.
Outpatient detox is also used, but is not as common as a residential inpatient program. Outpatient detox may be appropriate for less severe cases of addiction or alcoholism. This method requires a higher level of persistence and commitment as it requires a patient to regularly check in with their clinic for treatment and medication if necessary. This option can be good for those who have extensive family or work obligations, or who require a more affordable option. Outpatient detox should only be done on the recommendation from an addiction specialist.
Detox And The First Steps Of Recovery.
Once a detox is completed, a patient can begin treatment at the same facility or receive a recommendation for a separate facility that’s a good fit for their recovery. You will need to begin to address the psychological aspects of your addiction through various types of therapy, continuing medical care, educational activities, and learning new skills for living a sober life. A drug rehab can provide all of these things, and also help a person uncover the psychological issues that lie at the core of their addiction. This is also where any co-occurring disorders are also treated.
A drug rehab program can help you move on to the next steps of recovery by:
- Providing any necessary psychiatric care
- Creating a recovery plan that’s right for you
- Determining if medication can continue to help with symptoms
- Providing individual and group therapy
- Connecting you with the recovery community
- Educating you to fully understand your addiction or alcoholism
- Arming you with powerful skills to build a foundation for a new life
- Building a sense of support and confidence that you carry beyond rehab.
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