Detox in Addiction Treatment
Detox is just the first step in the recovery process before entering an addiction treatment center. It is best handled in a secure, monitored environment, usually requiring hospitalization. The abrupt cessation of alcohol and some illicit drugs can involve life-threatening implications, which are best monitored by health-care professionals. Frequently, in moderate to severe cases of addiction, other medications are prescribed to lessen the unpleasant side-effects of withdrawal. The goal of detox is to withdraw the alcoholic or addict from the addictive substance as safely, quickly, and as painless as possible. Most treatment facilities have a detox on site or work closely with a detox center or hospital nearby.
Detox, however, only deals with the physical aspect of addiction treatment and is just the beginning of the recovery process. Emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects are addressed after detox in an inpatient treatment facility. The long-term success rate for those who use detox as the sole form of addiction treatment is very low. Sadly enough most addicts and alcoholics think the problem is just the drugs or alcohol and with good intentions just want to get through the detox and think all will be well. The withdrawal comes after withdrawal, this means detox is the easy part, learning to live without alcohol and drugs and look in the mirror is the difficult part.
It is important to understand which types of detox are necessary for which drug.
Do I need a medical withdrawal or medical detox?
How long is the alcohol or drug detox program?
Are there any dangers involved with detox?
Essentially almost every drug can be found in one of the following areas. Although not a comprehensive list, most of the major drugs are listed here.
Absolutely requires a detox that is medically supervised.
The following substances, when abused, can develop physical dependencies, which, if not detoxed properly, can bring about dangerous withdrawal symptoms including seizures, delusions, or even death. Most hospitals will admit a client withdrawing off of the following substances.
Alcohol detox – withdrawal can include seizures, agitation, acute anxiety, delusions, or death during an unsupervised detox.
Benzodiazepine detox – (Xanax, valium, and Klonopin) withdrawal can include seizures, acute anxiety, delusions, or death with a non-medically supervised detox.
Psychiatric medication detox– withdrawal can include acute anxiety, seizures, thoughts of homicide and suicide, delusions, or death without a supervised detox.
Physically and emotionally uncomfortable, but not required for medical safety
The following substances, when abused, can develop physical dependencies as well, but do not necessarily lead to a medically dangerous withdrawal. Although extremely uncomfortable, very few people end up with lethal harmful effects as a result of the detox process. Although it is possible to safely detox the client off of these substances without any medical danger. The only exceptions to these are found when the client has a pre-existing heart condition, which can be aggravated during the uncomfortable withdrawal process. A danger for a person that decides to detox on their own is that they will usually stop trying before withdraw is completed. Rarely will a regular (non-detox) hospital admit a client withdrawing off of the following.
Methadone detox – extremely long term painful withdrawal, including agitation, muscle aches, sickness, sleeplessness, vomiting, anxiety during detox.
Heroin detox – Although not as severe as methadone, the withdrawal symptoms are similar during detox.
Suboxone detox – similar withdrawal symptoms as Heroin, just not as long lasting during the detox process.
Other opiates such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc -Similar withdrawal as the above listed during detox.
Rarely uncomfortable, usually fully safe detox
The following substances usually do not require a detox, however, most treatment centers will provide some form of withdrawal clinic or detox setting to make sure the client isn’t exhibiting any of the negative effects of the substance. A standard (nondrug treatment facility) hospital will not admit a client using these substances for detox because they are rarely in any true medical danger.
Marijuana detox – minimal to no withdrawal symptoms except for agitation during detox.
Cocaine/Crack detox – withdrawal symptoms during detox include lowered heart and respiration, binge sleeping and eating.
Ecstasy, LSD or Club drugs – symptoms during detox are minimal to nonexistent.
Methamphetamine detox – Agitation, binge sleeping and eating, possible delusions. There is a note, that many detox centers are reluctant to admit a client who has been using meth because they may be exhibiting dangerous psychotic symptoms as a result of there using. In most cases, a majority of these disappear during detox.
It is always better to play it safe regardless of the drug of choice to have the person enter a detox associated with a drug treatment center. There is a much greater chance of recovery if the addict has a detox in addiction treatment and statistically better success over just detox alone.
A famous slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous states that it is not a drinking problem, it is a thinking problem.