Who Needs to Detox?Dylan Romero
If you’ve done some research on addiction treatment, you’ve probably run across the term “detox” before. Even those who have a solid understanding of this process may question whether it’s right for themselves or a loved one. While detox can be a vital first step on the road to sobriety, it’s not necessary for all cases. At the same time, it can be life-threatening for other patients to decide to attempt it at home. Read on to learn more about what this procedure entails, and who is an ideal candidate for medically supervised detox.
What is Detox?
Detox, or detoxification, refers to the process of removing toxins from your body. In the case of substance use, the body has developed a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. This means that you’ve adjusted to having a certain base level of those substances in your system. As the drug is removed and its levels are not balanced, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, which can range from uncomfortable to severe.
Medically supervised detox is the process of managing these withdrawal symptoms through medication and other intervention measures. In this environment, we seek to minimize the physical harm caused by the substances abused. A highly-qualified team will supervise you and make you as comfortable as possible, lessening painful side effects and providing encouragement throughout this process.
Who Needs to Detox?
As mentioned above, it is imperative that people who misuse certain substances go through detox in a clinical environment. For example, those who drink heavily should not try to quit on their own. The symptoms of alcohol intoxication increase in severity with blood alcohol content; they range from mood changes and reduced coordination to memory blackouts, vomiting, and reduced body temperature. In severe enough cases, patients risk entering a coma, amnesia, or death. This is before withdrawal, when symptoms such as hallucinations, hyperthermia (high fever), delirium, tremors, GI bleeding, and grand mal seizures may arise. The extreme range of possible reactions here is the reason why independent treatment should not be attempted.
This also applies to those who are addicted to hypnotics and sedatives, such as benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan). Their symptoms may appear similar to those intoxicated with alcohol; while benzos themselves aren’t responsible for a great number of deaths, those who misuse them create fatal combinations with alcohol and other substances. The withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines can be life-threatening, and the shock can be too much for your body. Seizures and delirium are the primary concerns for those going into withdrawal, meaning that it is not recommended to undergo this process outside of a clinical environment.
Opiates (such as heroin or prescription painkillers) can create such a strong drive and extreme reaction that the person in question would do just about anything for the drug, while completely neglecting basic needs – records show death from dehydration and malnutrition during opiate withdrawal. Those withdrawing from opioids suffer spasms, bone and muscle pain, severe anxiety, hypertension, cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.
Some substances don’t carry fatal withdrawal symptoms, but patients in a medically supervised environment will see much better outcomes than those who attempt to detox alone.
How Long Does Detox Take?
Like many aspects of addiction treatment, the length of time taken to fully detox depends on a wide variety of factors. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), detox typically lasts under eight days. Based on the drug of abuse, the duration and intensity of use, detox setting, and one’s health, this could fluctuate between five to ten days on average.
The process consists of three components. The patient is evaluated, which helps the staff to understand the extent of someone’s dependence, as well as their personal and medical history. This comprehensive assessment includes a physical check for levels of the substances in the bloodstream.
Next is stabilization – when the team of experts supports the patient through the process of withdrawal. This is done with the use of medicines and social support, ideally under the supervision of medical professionals and with the cooperation of friends, family, and other important figures in one’s life. Finally, once significant progress has been made, a patient’s readiness for (and entry into) substance abuse treatment is fostered. Because detox is just the first step in a complete continuum of care, it’s vital to ensure that the patient enrolls in a residential treatment program. Studies show that those who receive continuing care have better outcomes than those who conclude treatment at detox
Concise Recovery Can Help
Concise Recovery Center provides top of the line treatment in its detox services. Our sub-acute detox programs are housed in comfortable, private facilities, run by leaders in the field and experts in detoxification. We provide a wide variety of amenities and medications that make this process as positive as possible. Our number one goal is pain-free care for those seeking sobriety.