The drug and alcohol detox process can be frightening to those dealing with addiction, even preventing some from seeking the help they need.
When detox is supervised by a staff of experienced, caring professionals, known as medically supervised detox, the process is safer and much more tolerable.
Understanding the basics of detox is a critical first step on the road to recovery.
What is Detox?
Detoxification is the process of eliminating the toxins from the body.
It is the first – and often one of the most uncomfortable – steps on the journey to sobriety.
No two detox situations are quite the same, and it can be difficult to predict what the process will look like. The intensity of detox may vary based on different factors:
- The substance that was misused
- Length of time for the abuse
- Method of consumption (smoking, snorting, injecting or swallowing)
- Amount of substance in the body
- Whether other medical conditions are present
Detox is not addiction treatment.
If a person goes through detox without following up with treatment, it is likely they will relapse.
However, detox is a necessary first step for many addictions if the subsequent treatment program is going to be successful.
Some people try to detox alone at home and this can be dangerous or even fatal depending on the substance of use and severity of the addiction.
When is it Necessary?
Medically supervised detox isn’t always a necessary step on the path to recovery. It is advised for drugs that cause severe, painful, or potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Those substances include:
Opioids and Heroin
Withdrawal from opioids and heroin is physically and emotionally difficult, even if it is not life threatening.
Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 12 to 30 hours from the last dose. Using medication like methadone or suboxone during the detox process can help manage painful symptoms to make the process more endurable.
It should be noted that suboxone is available at treatment centers and other detox facilities but methadone is only available at specialized methadone clinics and is usually in the form of a maintenance routine and not for detox.
Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium can produce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
It’s important to understand that while withdrawal from benzos is not as uncomfortable or painful as it is for heroin or opioids, it is more dangerous and can be fatal if detox is not supervised by medical professionals.
To avoid many of the difficult side effects, medical professionals will often wean individuals off the drug slowly in a supervised setting. Because of this, benzo detox can take longer to complete than other substances.
Alcohol withdrawal is not just uncomfortable – it can also be dangerous if it is not done in a controlled, supervised setting.
Alcohol detox can be life-threatening if the addiction is severe.
Symptoms like hallucinations, fever, and seizures may begin as early as eight hours after the last drink.
Medications are often used to control these side effects and keep the person safe and comfortable during the most intense part of the detox process.
Drug or alcohol detox can either be done at a separate detox facility or at the same location as the treatment to follow.
Finding a facility that offers bothdetox and addiction rehab services is often preferable to ensure a smooth and seamless transition between the two phases of treatment.
Once a substance is eliminated from the body, the rehabilitation process can begin to lower the chances of substance abuse in the future.
Many people fear the pain of withdrawal so much, they continue to use instead of getting clean and sober, creating a vicious cycle.
A reputable detox treatment center with a specialized staff will not only offer a safe and comfortable detox, but they can ensure that their patients stay on track through the worst parts of the withdrawal process and make it through to the recovery phase.
Every person with a serious drug or alcohol addiction owes it to themselves, his or her family, and friends to work through detox and begin the journey to recovery.
To get started, here is a list of the top rated rehab facilities in the United States that offer the best chance for recovery.