Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of alcohol or a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is the first step in the addiction treatment process. It should be followed up with rehab and treatment with behavioral-based therapy and more. Detox alone with no follow-up is not considered any form of treatment.
The term detox itself has the same meaning with various applications. Detox, short for detoxification is the natural process whereby the body relieves itself of unnecessary waste (toxins). It is the very necessary occurrence of purifying and cleansing the human body, while stabilizing the mind. Without this natural occurring detoxification process, the body would eventually become diseased and perish.
Drug and Alcohol Detox
Detox is a process whereby individuals are systematically withdrawn from alcohol and or drugs in an inpatient or outpatient setting. It MUST be done under the care of a physician and licensed professionals. Medications are used for detoxification from heroin, opiates, nicotine, benzodiazepines, alcohol, barbiturates and sedatives. In some cases detoxification may be a medical necessity. Untreated withdrawal may be medically dangerous or even fatal. Detox is not designed to address the psychological, social, and a behavioral problem associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification is most useful when it incorporates formal processes of assessment and referrals to rehab.
The detoxification process is a specific time frame in a drug or alcohol treatment program during which the body is purging itself of all traces of alcohol. This is the time frame during which withdrawal symptoms are most severe and physically demanding portion of the process.
Withdrawal describes the various symptoms that occur after use of a drug is reduced or stopped. Length of withdrawal and symptoms vary with the type of drug. Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes. These physical symptoms may last for several days, but the general depression that often accompanies heroin withdrawal may last for weeks. In many cases, withdrawal is treated with medications to ease the symptoms. Treating withdrawal is not treating the addiction.
When someone who has been using drugs regularly stops, they can suffer from the symptoms of drug withdrawal. It can cause suffering and acute side effects. It can be traumatic. The signs and symptoms of drug withdrawal begin to appear between 1 and 72 hours after drug use ceases.
Withdrawal is the term used to describe the body’s actual physical reaction to the removal of any substance on which it is dependent. Withdrawal is caused by stopping or dramatically reducing drug use after heavy and prolonged use. The reaction frequently includes sweating, shaking, headache, drug craving, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, inability to sleep, confusion, agitation, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral changes.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
This question is nearly impossible to answer. Every single drug, including alcohol, results in different withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, withdrawal symptoms also differ based on the body chemistry of the addict, how long the addiction has lasted, and the withdrawal process itself.
- urinary and or bowel movement changes
- change in appetite
- uncontrollable urges.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
- irrational mood swings
Physical symptoms usually disappear at roughly the same time that the detoxification process is complete, while mental and emotional symptoms may last during treatment, or possibly longer.
Questions & Answers
Q: Why is detox the first step in the treatment, rehab process?
A: Until there is zero alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body, withdrawal can cause cravings. Additionally, while in a drug or alcohol induced state, a person is not mentally or physically prepared to participate in the educational and therapeutic process of rehab and treatment. Bottom line, until the detox process is complete, someone is too unstable and simply not ready to participate in treatment.
Q: How long does detox take?
A: Detoxing from drugs and or alcohol can takes anywhere from 3 to 14 days, depending primarily on the type of chemical involved.
Q: What’s the difference between withdrawal and detox?
A: Withdrawal is the term used to describe the body’s actual physical reaction to the removal of any substance on which it is dependent. Withdrawal is caused by stopping or dramatically reducing alcohol or drug use after heavy or prolonged use. The reaction frequently includes sweating, shaking, headache, drug craving, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, inability to sleep, confusion, agitation, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral changes.
Q: Is detox painful?
A: Detox can be uncomfortable both physically as well as psychologically, it just depends on the person, their health and the medical procedures followed. Often, there is a significant, self induced, psychological dependence associated with these substances which can cause problems. drug alcohol rehab and detox
Detox Always Requires Medical Supervision
With the exception of a few very powerful drugs, the detoxification process usually does not require medical supervision. However, medical supervision is recommended for the majority of addicts during this time and some manner of supervision is usually required to avoid relapse by the addict. A rare few will succeed at detoxification without any type of supervision, but usually only for the least addictive of substances and only if they have been addicted for a very short time.
The main reason that medical supervision is recommended is because detoxification is the most dangerous time for the addict. As the body purges the substance, it undergoes chemical changes. These changes can, in some circumstances, create a life threatening situation. Some addicts in detoxification experience liver failure, heart palpitations, or even brain aneurysms. A medical professional, carefully monitoring your withdrawal, is the safest way to avoid these potential dangers.
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