Detoxification, or “detox,” is a fundamental part of the drug and alcohol addiction treatment process. It is the means by which recovering addicts expel the toxins that have built up in their systems through a prolonged and untreated course of substance use. Along with behavioral rehab, it is one of the two primary pillars of modern addiction treatment and Is vital to long-term recovery.
The unfortunate reality is, however, that many people suffering addiction are reluctant to enter detox because of the often-arduous physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that inevitably accompany the process. It’s important to realize, however, that getting over the fear of alcohol and drug detox is a critical first step to reclaiming one’s life from chemical dependency.
What Happens During Alcohol And Drug Detox?
Detox is, by all accounts, a medical procedure and should be treated as such. Professional alcohol and drug detox programs usually last around five to seven days and are staffed by experienced and qualified medical professionals who can monitor and mitigate symptoms and can also intervene in the event of a medical emergency.
Patients with an extended history of untreated substance use often experience long-term medical issues for which they’ll also need expert treatment during the detox process, including but not limited to:
- Chronic pain
- Respiratory issues
- Organ disease
- Skin issues
Whether they’re the cause or effect of drug or alcohol addiction, these conditions require ongoing treatment from a medical professional even after the addiction treatment process.
Fear Of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal
One of the largest obstacles to the successful completion of detox is the withdrawal period that accompanies the process. While each person’s withdrawal period will vary based on factors like scope and duration of substance, type of drugs being abused, and co-occurring medical conditions, the process is usually divided into three stages: early, acute, and protracted.
Symptoms detoxing often include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Headache and migraine
- Stomach illness
- Anxiety and irritability
Symptoms can start as early as a few hours after use and last for weeks before gradually dissipating. In some cases, medication may be available to diminish cravings and lessen the severity of symptoms.
Fear Of Making The Decision To Enter Detox
It’s perfectly understandable for those entering recovery to be reserved toward detox. While it’s a necessary component of the treatment process, it can admittedly be a physically and emotionally taxing procedure. One of the primary reasons that relapse rates are so high is because recovering users often find the withdrawal process too much to handle. It’s important to realize that, while detox may be initially difficult, it will get better and is highly preferable to a revolving cycle of withdrawal and relapse.
Talk to your physician or mental health professional about your concerns and see if they can offer some insight regarding quality programs in your area. Use our database of detox centers throughout the country to locate an alcohol or drug detox center near you. If you’re worried about paying for detox, Medicaid and private insurance will cover all or part of the process.
Detoxing On Your Own – Not Recommended
Patients who endeavor to detox on their own run a heightened risk of relapse and subsequent withdrawal. It’s imperative that detox be managed by medical personnel trained in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms. Don’t be afraid to take this first critical step toward recovery and a better future.