When is Detox Needed?
Detox is an aspect of substance use treatment that isn’t always necessary. A detox may not be warranted if the person isn’t abusing substances known to cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Similarly, if they aren’t using heavily or frequently, it may be determined that they can begin treatment without first attending detox. Detox is recommended when withdrawal symptoms are expected to be potentially dangerous or uncomfortable enough to make the process unnecessarily challenging. Many treatment facilities will not accept patients attempting to quit certain drugs without them first completing a detox stay.
Different Types of Detox
Medical detoxes are fully staffed facilities with trained practitioners who can administer any needed medications to prevent or treat withdrawal symptoms, including tapering the person off narcotics to a point where they can safely cease consuming them. They can handle patients at a higher risk than social detoxes. However, the process of medical detoxification is more expensive and can prolong withdrawal, making for a longer stay.
A social detox facility can’t administer most narcotic medications. Social detoxes are a lower level of care than medical detoxes. While they can provide some medical care, it is usually limited to monitoring and treating minor symptoms as they arise. Staff members in social detoxes may not be counselors but are qualified to observe and report symptoms to medical professionals and clinicians. For these reasons, patients who may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms are better suited for medical detox.
Home detox is done at home and is only suggested for those not at risk of suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms or those with a treatment plan or medical supervision provided by an outpatient provider. While home detox may seem like a good option for those who do not wish to go away to treatment, it can be quite challenging to stop using drugs and alcohol, especially when you are in an environment where that behavior is done regularly. Always consult with a medical professional before starting a home detox.
TIPS: If you are going to detox
- Never stop taking medication without consulting a doctor.
- Get a professional assessment to determine if you need medical detox.
- Do not abruptly stop using large amounts of alcohol or certain drugs without consulting a medical professional.
- Get medical support through medical detox or advice from your doctor when detoxing from alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines.
- Holistic detox approaches can be effective, especially when withdrawal symptoms are mild and do not require medication assistance.
- Make sure to eat healthy foods and get plenty of sleep to help your body heal.
Detox Do’s and Don’t
There are a few important things to keep in mind for anyone who will be attending detox. These tips have been formulated into a list of dos and don’ts that can help make the process a success:
Understand It May Be Difficult
The only way to get off of addictive substances that make people feel good is to feel a little bad. It’s a brutal truth, but there’s no way to transition to being drug-free without experiencing some discomfort. Medications like Suboxone and methadone may make the symptoms less severe. But keep in mind that the person will still experience minor withdrawal symptoms as the dosage is decreased.
Take Your Time
The detox process can’t be rushed and takes however long it takes for each person to get through any withdrawal symptoms. It’s common for patients to become antsy once they start feeling better and want to get their program started. But rushing on to the next step can easily lead to trouble, as many patients experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These residual symptoms can pop up and cause setbacks, particularly if the patient isn’t in the detox facility.
One Center is Best
Try to find a rehab that has on-site detox facilities. This will make the transition easier and more straightforward. The last thing you want to do is have time outside of care in between detox and rehab. You can easily trick yourself into thinking that a long-term rehab may not be necessary. This puts you in danger of relapsing.
Be completely honest. The detox staff must have a complete understanding of your drug and medical history to help ensure your safety. Lying or omitting anything during the intake process can have deadly repercussions.
Don’t Overthink Things
Don’t overthink things. While in detox, you will be experiencing a wide range of emotions and discomforts. Withdrawal isn’t limited to physical symptoms, and it’s quite common for the person to want to give up during the process. Instead of being carried away by one’s thoughts, remember that these feelings are normal and will pass when withdrawal symptoms subside. And they will subside.
Don’t Skip Rehab
Don’t use detox in place of rehab. Detoxes do not provide care beyond handling the physical dependence on substances. But the person became addicted at some point in their life, and without counseling and relapse prevention, they are likely to repeat this coping mechanism.
What are the three methods of detoxification?
The three methods of detoxification are Medical Detox, Social Detox, and Home Detox.
Medical Detox takes place in a hospital or specialized facility. It ensures that the individual has 24-hour medical oversight and is suitable for individuals who have been using drugs in large amounts or for an extended period.
Social Detox involves counseling, peer support, and other non-medical interventions to help someone through the withdrawal process. It is best for individuals who are not coming off large amounts of substances but could benefit from the support system provided by a social detox.
Home Detox is a detox that can be done in the comfort of one’s own home. It can be done on an outpatient basis with the supervision of a professional. While this option may seem the easiest, Home Detox can be the most challenging detox to complete without medical oversight and structured support.
What happens in the process of drug detox?
Detoxing from drugs involves working with medical professionals or other support staff to ensure your physical and mental well-being when coming off drugs. The withdrawal process is considered complete when your body is no longer experiencing withdrawal symptoms. After a successful detox, one should have more regular sleeping and eating patterns and be able to go through the day without needing prescription or over-the-counter medications to feel normal.
Which drugs require medical staff to detox?
The main drugs that require medical oversight are alcohol, benzodiazepines (benzos), and opiates. Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to life-threatening seizures, so proper oversight and medication are necessary. With opiates, withdrawal symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on the body and mind. While most opiate withdrawal is not life-threatening, it is incredibly uncomfortable, and medical intervention ensures that a person can get through it safely.
Ask a Professional
Do all drugs require a medical detox?
No, but a medical detox can be beneficial regardless of whether it is required. Alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines usually need a medical detox if an individual has taken large amounts or been on them for an extended period, as the withdrawal can be life-threatening. Drugs like methamphetamines do not require a medical detox, but medical intervention can go a long way in keeping someone comfortable during the withdrawal process.
When should a drug detox be utilized?
Detox should be used when someone uses drugs in large amounts or for a long duration. Adverse reactions can be expected whenever someone stops using a substance, they have developed a physical dependence on. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the individual and the substance used, so always consult a medical professional to determine if detox is required.
How long will detox take to complete?
The time it takes to complete detox varies depending on the substance, how long it’s been used, and how much a person uses. Most people who require detox can expect a minimum stay of 72 hours. Depending on the severity and duration of their symptoms, patients are usually discharged once acute withdrawal symptoms have diminished, generally occurring within 5- 7 days. Those withdrawing from substances that produce severe and dangerous symptoms can expect their stay in a detox center to take longer than a week.
What happens after detox?
Immediately after being in a detox center, the patient should transition directly to some form of inpatient treatment. Detox is only the beginning of the drug rehab process and is better viewed as a preparatory step since detoxes prepare patients to receive treatment. Patients craving and feeling ill from withdrawal symptoms experience far less benefit from rehabilitation services if they can complete them. That’s why detox services originated. They bridge the gap between active addiction and abstinence so treatment can be delivered.
What’s the difference between medical detox and non-medical detox?
The main difference between the two types of detox is the amount of medical oversite and the use of medication to treat symptoms. If the person is attending a medical detox facility, they can expect a hospital-like setting where they will live and have their symptoms monitored for the duration of their stay. They are medications to help alleviate some withdrawal symptoms, making the process safer and more tolerable. Non-medical detoxes generally consist of symptoms monitoring and reporting, along with the support and encouragement of the detox staff.
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