Drug Detox Guide
WRITTEN BY CAYLA CLARK, BA – APRIL 14TH, 2020
What is Drug Detox?
Drug detox is the process of eliminating chemical substances from the body in a medically monitored and secured environment. Those who abuse drugs for any extended period of time face serious health-related consequences during the withdrawal stage of recovery, which will occur shortly after the last use. The purpose of medical detox is to safely manage the symptoms of drug withdrawal with a combination of medication and therapy, while preparing patients for the next stage of drug addiction recovery – inpatient treatment.
The drug detox experience will be unique to each individual case of addiction. The length of detox and the services provided will depend heavily on the length of the addiction itself, the type of drug (of drugs) that were being used regularly, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.
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Length of Drug Withdrawal Symptoms
The length of one’s stay at drug detox will depend on the length of the withdrawal period. There are many factors that affect the length and severity of withdrawal, including:
- The severity of the addiction.
- The type of drug that was being abused (for example, the symptoms of marijuana withdrawal will vary significantly from the symptoms of heroin withdrawal).
- The method of abuse (those that were ingesting prescription painkillers orally will have a very different experience than those that were using them intravenously, for example).
- Family history with substance abuse.
- Co-occurring mental health disorders (which will need to be simultaneously treated).
- The duration of the drug addiction.
- Any additional health-related disorders or complications.
If you have been struggling with a drug addiction of any severity, drug detox will always be a necessary first step on the overall journey of addiction recovery.
Benefits of a Medical Drug Detox
Do I Need Drug Detox?
Individuals who have been abusing drugs for any length of time will need to be admitted to a medical detox facility. While symptoms of withdrawal may not seem life-threatening, the discomfort associated with symptoms of withdrawal often sends users back to their drug of choice before the detox process has concluded. Attempting to withdraw at home can result in health-related complications – sometimes life-threatening. But more commonly, attempting to withdraw without professional medical care will result in relapse.
An excerpt from Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) reads, “Most, however, start with detoxification and medically managed withdrawal, often considered the first stage of treatment. Detoxification, the process by which the body clears itself of drugs, is designed to manage the acute and potentially dangerous physiological effects of stopping drug use.” (Kleber et al., 1996). (1)
Medication-Assisted Detox Program
Those who have been abusing drugs such as opioids are often be prescribed certain medications geared towards alleviating physical symptoms of withdrawal while preventing the mental cravings that frequently lead to relapse. Prescription medication such as Suboxone®, methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone are often administered by licensed physicians during the detoxification process, and intake is closely monitored by an around-the-clock team of medical professionals.
If you try taking these medications on your own to combat drug withdrawal, you can suffer from adverse reactions and side effects without medical supervision.
Medication-assisted treatment is an important part of detox, though it can result in even more serious complications when not closely overseen by those with extensive experience. If you are still unsure as to whether or not drug detox is the right option for you, please reach out to us today with any and all questions you might have.
What to Expect From a Drug Detox Center
The main priority of a reputable drug detox center is getting you started on your own, personal journey of drug addiction recovery as soon as possible. Finding the right drug detox facility is extremely important, because there are many options to choose from and not all of them will be suited to meet all of your personal requirements and help you reach your long-term recovery goals. There are certain staples of drug detox that you can always expect. These include (but are not limited to):
- A detailed evaluation upon admission.
- Medicinal and therapeutic intervention geared towards physical, mental, and emotional stabilization.
- Therapeutic services – one-on-one and group therapy sessions.
- Medication assisted treatment when deemed necessary.
- Regular medical examinations, geared towards preventing any health-related complications of drug withdrawal.
- Preparing for a seamless transition into inpatient drug rehab.
Attempting to quit drugs cold-turkey or attempting to quit at home can lead to relapse, health-related issues, and ultimately death. It is absolutely crucial that you enter into a drug detox program if you have been struggling with substance abuse. Fortunately, we are available to help. Reach out to us today and we will help get you started on your personal journey of lifelong drug addiction recovery.
- Kleber, H.D. Outpatient detoxification from opiates. Primary Psychiatry 1:42-52, 1996.