Drug / Alcohol Detox is an obvious first step in the Recovery Process.
It can be a fearful time for some, but we encourage those considering withdrawing from drug and alcohol abuse that they are not alone, and they are doing the right thing. It is a courageous step.
Nobody decides to become chemically addicted.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral issue. There are no “right or wrong” lectures. Detoxification demands compassion from others and goes a long ways to show a person new to the recovery process, that he or she is not a bad person trying to get good, but a sick person trying to get well.
Detox & Withdrawal
Detox, short for detoxification, is the first step of the drug or alcohol abuse treatment process. Withdrawal is the term used to describe the body’s reaction to the removal of any substance it has become dependent upon.
Detox is the first step because until there is no alcohol and/or drugs in a person’s body, withdrawal can cause craving for more.
Additionally, while in a drug or alcohol induced state, a person is not fully prepared to participate in the educational and therapeutic process of rehab and treatment. Until the detox process is complete, a person is simply not ready for recovery.
Drug alcohol detox centers and programs in hospitals and residential treatment facilities often include medical support structures and the spiritual Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) model. Effective detoxification programs assemble the best available practices for self-care, self-transformation, and self-discovery.
Alcohol detox can be defined as a period of medically monitored treatment, were a person is helped to overcome their physical dependence on alcohol. The objective of alcohol detox is to help the patient achieve an alcohol free state. Detox is intended to relieve the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Detox helps prepare the patient for entry into treatment and rehab.Therefore, the ultimate goal of detox is preparation for long-term recovery from alcoholism. Alcohol detox is most commonly completed in an inpatient, medical setting.
Alcohol detox can cause a variety of major and/or minor physical, sometimes psychological, manifestations. The process of alcohol detox can be traumatic. Alcohol detox has the potential for triggering any number of side effects. These can range from mild to quite severe.
Mild reactions to alcohol detox can include tremors (the shakes), headaches, vomiting, perspiration, restlessness, lose of appetite and insomnia.
More serious effects of alcohol detox can be Delirium Tremors (DT’s), autonomic hyperactivity and seizures (convulsions).
It has been estimated that 1 in 4 patients are at high risk of a withdrawal seizure if not medically treated during alcohol detox.
The time necessary for alcohol detox can be anywhere from 3 to 14 days.
A variety of medications and procedures are used to detox from alcohol in a medical environment. Buprenophex, certain benzodiazepines and anticonvulsant medication are some of the medications used.
Withdrawal treatment (alcohol detox) provides the opportunity for engaging the individual in long term rehab and recovery.
Withdrawal is caused by stopping or dramatically reducing the drug after heavy and prolonged use. The reaction frequently includes:
- drug craving
- abdominal cramping
- inability to sleep
- anxiety and other behavioral changes
Certain types of drugs require a period of medical detox, others do not. Opiates, such as heroin and methadone do require medical detox. Prescription medications, of all classifications, require medically supervised detox. Other illegal drugs, such as marijuana, crystal meth and cocaine (crack) do not require medical detox.
Often, there is a significant, self induced, psychological dependence associated with these substances and therefore, a period of stabilization is advisable.
Prescription drugs such as Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin and Lortab, all require medically supervised detox. Treatment of withdrawal (detox) includes closely monitoring the person’s vital signs, supportive care and medications. The time period for drug detox is 3 to 7 days of medically monitored supervision.
Probably the most important thing to remember is that withdrawal or detox is only the first phase of a successful rehabilitation program.
Just drying out rarely solves the entire problem, which is why a longer-term residential drug alcohol rehab program is recommended.
In addition, there are still toxic residues stored in the tissue, and a regular detox doesn’t handle this, so a biophysical program is suggested to be able to completely detoxify the whole body, not just what’s floating in the system.
Getting support and advice from others can be extremely helpful in the journey towards sobriety.