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Detox is properly referred to as detoxification. It is a type of treatment that aims to rid the body of toxins that are accumulated during substance abuse.

Detox Overview

The definition for detox is; Medically supervised withdrawal or medical withdrawal management.

“It is the process of providing medical supervision and managing the symptoms of withdrawal as the body rids itself of alcohol or drugs.”

Withdrawal is what the body goes through when an addict abruptly stops using drugs or alcohol after a long period of time.

Where does detox take place?

  • Inpatient (residential) facility
  • Outpatient
  • Special detox facility.
  • One on one medical supervision
  • In a emergency room at a hospital.
  • At home with doctor prescribed medications.

Detox alone is not enough treatment because it does not address the psychological and social problems that caused the addiction. It also does not provide the skills and procedures required to stay sober. That is why inpatient rehab facilities are recommended for detox.

The First Stage of the Detox Process

detox steps

Admitting to oneself that they need help is the first step in the detox process. Addicts often find it difficult to be honest with themselves, and those closest to them, that they have an issue. Often times they do not know how they have spiralled out of control and are left dependent and a slave to their drug of choice.

Admitting they are powerless to their drug is difficult because they must accept the fact that they are no longer in power of their own well being and life choices.

If you or are a loved one has a long history of addiction and require detox, as a means to begin the recovery process, it should be done with a trained therapist. Having close friends and family is an important part of the process however not essential. Trained professionals will often know the health benefits of going cold turkey versus the subtle dilution of the drug in ones life.

The Detox Process and Its Effects

The detox process is never easy. It will involve the emotional and physical makeup of the addicts body and mind.

A addict will experience a great deal of side effects that can be harmful to their well being if not conducted by a trained professional. It is not uncommon for recovering addicts to slip into deep depression and intense states of exhaustion. Panic and paranoia may also set in while the body tries to rid itself from the built up harmful toxins.

detox effects

Side effects of detox include:

  • Chills
  • Sweating and fevers
  • Vomiting
  • Flu or food poisoning like symptoms

The body is attempting to get rid of harmful toxins to return to the state of health it experienced before the drug addiction began. Depending on how deep into the addiction process the individual is the detoxification process may take weeks even months to fully take effect.

During detoxification it is important for the individual to hydrate and eat properly so that the body can start again with a healthy reboot. Although many become nauseous, it is important to give the body the vitamins it needs to repair tissues and organs. Hydrating is particularly important because the addict will lose a great deal of fluid due to sweating and vomiting.

During this time a diet plan built by a trained professional is important. It will require a complex mix of nutrients and vitamins.

Constructing a proper diet during this time should be left in the hands of trained professionals as different drugs may require varying nutrients and vitamins.

What to expect during detox

Craving the drug is a major obstacle in the detoxification process. A addict will have extremely high cravings and urges to start up on the drug again during the rehabilitation process. This is not the patients fault as no matter how mentally strong they are their body is urging them to find a way to find the drug because it has become accustomed to the effects it has on their body.

Trained physicians are very good at combating the urges to re-take the drug and know stimulants that help take the patients mind off of the drugs craving and focus on other items that will aid in their overall recovery process.

The detox process is not all negative. It will lead to better relationships between the family and addict as well as help improve the overall outlook and confidence of the addict to realize the recovery is possible.

A major aspect of many detox centers is spirituality. A spiritual assessment of a patient must be analyzed in order to identify what matters most in the patient’s life. The actual exploration to uncover an addicts religion is not necessary however as part of the detox process a trained physician will uncover the meaning of a patient’s life and leverage those feelings to help in the motivation process of recovery.

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Price of Detox

The prices of detox can be expensive. They are typically at least twice the cost of one day in a residential rehab facility.   

How long will I be in Detox?

The length of time that withdrawal takes and its symptoms vary depending on the type of drug. If the detox process is not professionally monitored the withdrawal can be dangerous. There are many guidelines for detox. SAMHSA states that “supervised detoxification may prevent potentially life threatening complications that might appear if the patient were left untreated”.

Types of substance abuse disorders that warrant medical supervisions during detox because they can be lethal are:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Certain opioids like oxycodone

Often detox from opioids can cause symptoms like a severe flu. Quitting these drug cold turkey without the help of medication to alleviate discomfort is unnecessary. Medication like Suboxone and Subutex help prevent addicts from relapsing and helps mitigate severe withdrawal symptoms during detox.

Stimulants like cocaine and meth do no result in life-threatening symptoms from withdrawal.

If you or a loved one has a severe alcohol or drug addiction it is highly recommended that they receive supervised detox at a rehab facility. It is the safer and healthier option and one that provides the best chance for less severe side effects and full recovery.