Addiction detox should always be done under medical supervision.
For many addicts and alcoholics, it can seem nearly impossible to make it even a day without a drink or a drug. Depending on the severity of the addiction, it is generally recommended that you or your loved one go through medically supervised drug or alcohol detox prior to entering the treatment facility of your choice. The advantages of entering a detox program greatly reduce the chance of the addict giving up early into recovery.
A detoxification program for physical dependence does not necessarily address the social, psychological or behavioral issues that intermingle with addiction. However, it’s the necessary place to start if one wants to walk the road to a full recovery.
The Drug and Alcohol Detox Process
Whether you enter a standalone detox facility or an inpatient program with detox services, the medically supervised drug detoxification process will generally progress as such:
Step 1: Evaluation
Upon beginning drug detoxification, the patient undergoes testing to see which specific substances – and the specific amounts of each – are presently circulating in his or her bloodstream. Clinicians also evaluate the patient for potential co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis and mental/behavioral issues.
Step 2: Stabilization
In this stage, the patient is guided through the process of detoxification. This may be done with or without the use of medications, but the former is more common.
Another aspect of stabilization is explaining to the patient what to expect during treatment and the recovery process. Where appropriate, the patient’s loved ones are brought in at this time to become involved and show support.
Step 3: Guiding Patient into Treatment
The last step of the detoxification process is to ready the patient for the actual recovery process. As drug detoxification only deals with the physical dependency and addiction to substances, it does not address the psychological aspects of drug addiction.
This stage of detox entails obtaining agreement from the patient to complete the rehab process by enrolling in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
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Detox Treatment FAQs
Detox programs vary in length, staffing and treatment philosophy from facility to facility. The best way to know your full options is to read through these FAQs on detox treatment, and then contact us if you still have questions about detox or need help with finding the right program.
What Are the Protocol Differences in Clinical vs. Holistic Detox?
Clinical detox is the more traditional version, focusing on straightforward scientific approaches to care and treatment. Protocols in clinical detox can include:
Medication(s) to alleviate withdrawal symptoms
Emphasis on nutritious and detoxifying foods and supplements
Close monitoring of symptoms and vitals
Focus on increased sleep, hydration and stress/anxiety reduction
Traditional clinical detox is usually covered by insurance and less expensive than holistic detox. Clinical solutions have more in-depth research backing their efficacy than holistic programs do.
Holistic detox takes a whole-person approach to care, addressing the body, mind and spirit in recovery. Protocols in a holistic detox program often include:
Using herbal remedies or colonics
Treatment with massage therapy
Acupuncture and yoga
Focus on healthy diet and exercise
Lots of rest and water
Some holistic plans can include medications if the patient desires or truly needs them, but the primary focus is on treating the whole person. By using more natural methods, these treatment centers can flush out patients’ drug and alcohol toxins at a quicker pace during detox.
What Are Common Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox?
Most people will suffer withdrawal symptoms during detox. These symptoms vary wildly depending on the drug used, the length of time used, the amount/dosage and the person’s physical characteristics.
Common withdrawal symptoms include:
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress
Fever, chills, sweating
Irritability, anxiety and agitation
Depression (possible suicide risk)
Insomnia, seizures and possibly coma
Confusion, hallucinations and disorientation
For your own personal safety, detoxing in a professional treatment center is the only viable option in the vast majority of addiction cases.
What Is the Duration of Drug Detox?
Detox duration can vary based on the individual, the length of prior drug use and the amount/dosage of drugs ingested. While it’s impossible to give exact numbers, here are some general guidelines for acute withdrawal:
Alcohol: 5 to 7 days
Benzodiazepines: 1 to 4 weeks
Cannabis: 5 days
Nicotine: 2 to 4 weeks
Opioids: 4 to 10 days
Stimulants: 1 to 2 weeks
After going through a successful detox program, it can take another six to 24 months for the human brain to fully adjust to not having drugs and return to normalcy.
After outlasting acute withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, many individuals experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is the lingering, sporadically reoccurring mental and physical symptoms of addiction that can continue long after the acute withdrawal period. PAWS usually subsides after one to two years of the last drink or drug ingestion.
What Are the Dangers of Self-Detox?
During acute withdrawal, painful symptoms and medical complications peak and are at their most dangerous point. Some manifestations of detox can even be fatal. That’s why we always recommend supervised detox by medical professionals.
People who try to detox at home are much more likely to relapse during the detox process. The physical and mental pangs of withdrawal can be severe, and having trained professionals to help is an invaluable aid in the process.
Real stories of people who have lost loved ones to addiction help encourage and inspire others in the Fight Addiction Now community. Staying safe during detox should be every recovery hopeful’s No. 1 priority.
What Are Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms Like?
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary greatly. Two big factors are the length of time a person has been drinking and how heavily they have been drinking.
Physical indications of alcohol detoxification can begin soon after an alcoholic has had his or her last drink. Acute alcohol withdrawal is the first stage. Symptoms typically include:
Confusion or disorientation
Fever and sweating
If symptoms become severe, a person goes through delirium tremens, a much more extreme and dangerous condition. Please note that alcohol is one of only a few substances that can lead to death during the acute withdrawal phase, further giving reason to only attempt detoxification in a professional setting, and not at home.
What Is the Importance of Psychological Treatment in Addition to Detox?
When someone struggling to rid themselves of drug or alcohol addiction decides to get help and detox, they begin to realize they have a psychological dependence to overcome in addition to their physical dependence.
The psychological effects of drug and alcohol addiction and detox are significant, and the body, mind and soul need to be treated for an effective recovery. If an individual with a drug or alcohol problem does not take care of the emotional aspect, relapse is more likely to occur.
This is why some facilities may begin counseling and holistic treatment during the detox stage, but even if they don’t, all will recommend ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment immediately following the detox program. You probably won’t find a single facility that does detox and then send patients home without any recommendation or plan for follow-up care.
How Does Medical Detox Work?
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) means prescribing medications during detox (and sometimes beyond) to ease patients’ harsher symptoms of withdrawal. It is often used in conjunction with other clinical therapies, and sometimes holistic therapies too.
During MAT, the patient’s vitals are closely monitored, while nutritious meals, liquids and vitamins are frequently provided.
One type of MAT is through IV. Other detox facilities give oral or sublingual medications. Certified MAT programs will strategically wean you off any medications they prescribe before you graduate their full program.
Important Note on Detox Treatment
No matter what type of detox program you choose, addressing only the physical effects of drug and alcohol abuse is not enough treatment for your addiction. Only when you dig deeper into the underlying issues and psychological reasons for addiction can you begin to heal and recover.
We at Fight Addiction Now are all about supporting you through our online community, built by those and for those impacted by addiction.
How to Get into Professional Addiction Detox
Fight Addiction Now can help refer you or your loved one to a detox program that will address your individual needs and cater to your health and safety. Call us today at 1-833-542-8797 or submit your insurance info so we can help you find the best solution for your needs. We’re here to listen and to guide you toward the first step of recovery.
Detoxing from drugs and alcohol can be hard on our bodies. Learn more about the symptoms of detoxing from drugs, withdrawal symptoms for each drug, latest news about how treatment centers should approach the detox process, and more.