Drug detoxification is a safe and effective way for people suffering from alcohol and substance abuse issues to begin their journey to recovery. Drug dependence occurs after changes in your brain function due to extreme substance abuse. Your brain adapts to these chemical function changes as a coping mechanism to compensate for the presence of alcohol or drugs by developing tolerance.
Hence, these changes mean that you eventually need larger doses of your preferred substance to achieve the same effect. Sustained use of drugs and alcohol will cause your brain to continue changing to adapt and maintain function. Therefore, when you stop using drugs or alcohol, brain functions rebound and cause withdrawal symptoms.
Thus, you will need detoxification before continuing with addiction treatment to alleviate the substance from your body and brain.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification or medically managed withdrawals refer to the process of letting your body remove the drugs in it. Its purpose is to safely manage your withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking alcohol or drugs.
Quitting without medical supervision (cold turkey) is not advisable because it’s rarely successful, could lead to unnecessary withdrawal symptoms, and can potentially de-motivate after several failed attempts. Detoxing at home can lead to adverse health issues such as severe dehydration or seizures.
Detox vs Substance Abuse Rehabilitation
Medical detox seeks to medically stabilize patients after they stop taking drugs and other substances. It also minimizes their withdrawal symptoms in the process, prevents potentially harmful effects of withdrawal, and assists them to transition to a continued care program such as a substance abuse rehabilitation center.
Substance abuse rehabilitation involves several ongoing services aimed at socially and psychologically rehabilitating you from drug abuse. Some centers, like LA’s newest detox center Hollywood Hills Recovery, offer both services.
The Process of Detoxification
The professional detoxification process involves the following three essential components:
- Evaluation: You start with an assessment at a detox center performed by a clinical professional to assess your physical and psychological condition and medical history. It allows the clinical professionals to determine your detox level of care and develop an individualized treatment plan.
- Stabilization: Involves following an individualized treatment plan to conduct the detox process and use the prescribed medications and therapies to assist you through a safe withdrawal experience.
- Preparing Entry into Treatment: Detoxification is only the first part of a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation program. Usually, inpatient rehab centers offer the best chances of successful rehabilitation after detox.
How Long Does Detoxification Last?
The detox process typically lasts for seven to 10 days on average. However, it varies for different people and is dependent on several factors, including:
- How much alcohol or drugs you have been consuming
- Your physical and mental functioning
- The severity of your withdrawal symptoms
- Your cooperation with the process
It can take days or months for your withdrawal symptoms to clear completely depending on:
- The type of substance you are addicted to
- The severity of your addiction
- The duration of your addiction
- Your method of abuse
- The amount of alcohol or substances you take at one time
- Your genetic makeup
- Underlying medical or mental health conditions
- Your genetic makeup and family history
The Side Effects of Detoxification
Detoxification can be a painful process, so clinical professionals encourage medical detox. Medical supervision and medication allow patients to detox in a safe environment. Although medical detoxification limits withdrawal symptoms, some are unavoidable. The most common side effects include:
- Anxiety, agitation, and nervousness
- Body discomfort
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Intense cravings for the substance
Drug Detoxification during Pregnancy
Detox with medical supervision is a must during pregnancy since the withdrawal symptoms can be harmful to the fetus. Cold turkey detox can cause stress to the fetus leading to conditions like severe fetal distress or preterm labor. The goal here is to manage pain and prevent relapse.
Life after Detoxification
Detox is only the first part of an addiction treatment and recovery program, and when done alone, it’s usually insufficient for success. As an addict, you also need to treat the psychological aspect of your addiction. You can accomplish this with an inpatient rehab program, counseling, support groups, or a combination of two or more.