Detox is often the requisite first step in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program. Detoxification typically occurs after cessation of abusing substances, when the body begins the process of flushing toxins from the system under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms. Depending upon a number of factors, this can be a very uncomfortable period, but with proper medical assistance, patients can get through it swiftly and safely. Detox is not a treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, rather, it is a vital component in a comprehensive drug or alcohol rehabilitation program and should be followed by psychotherapeutic treatment in order to sustain recovery for the long term.
Futures is well equipped and purpose built to assist patients through this trying, but necessary, detoxification process. Dr. Gloria Dunkin and her team of medical professionals lead all decisions and administer care during this initial phase of treatment that typically spans three to seven days, with the goal of minimizing discomfort while keeping safety, health and well-being paramount. In addition to the delivery of sound medical care, all patients are monitored closely by both Resident Assistant (RA) staff and by camera surveillance – we are cognizant of achieving balance with an individual’s right to privacy and with protecting their safety throughout treatment, especially through the detox protocol. All medications are dispensed by our team of licensed nurses as directed by medical leadership to minimize any symptoms of withdrawal.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), withdrawal symptoms associated with drug detox will depend upon the drug of choice. They may include:
- Bone aches and muscle pain
- Shaking or tremors
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Does Medication Help Ease Withdrawal Symptoms?
There are medications that can help mitigate potential physical withdrawal symptoms. For example, if an opiate drug – like heroin or a prescription painkiller – is the drug of choice, then buprenorphine and methadone are two options in long-term detox. For alcohol detox, there are a number of different medications that can help to limit cravings. Medications for this purpose should only be dispensed and ingested under direct medical supervision as part of a monitored detox protocol, rather than any attempt to “kick the habit” alone.
What Are the Risks Associated With Detox?
Abruptly stopping the misuse or abuse of any substance can lead to the development of medical complications, especially if there are underlying health issues. No matter what the drug of choice, however, the chance of relapse is high during the detox period due to the intensity of cravings. Because tolerance changes quickly, many patients take the same amount, or more, than they took during active addiction. Unfortunately, during the detox period, this dose can amount to too much and potentially cause a deadly overdose.
Does Detox Treat Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders?
No. Drug detoxification is part of a comprehensive treatment for substance use disorders, like the coordinated care model available at Futures. We believe it’s vital to achieve stabilization with minimal discomfort to allow full participation in psychotherapeutic treatment. Clarity of mind is required to begin addressing underlying behavioral health issues and learning to manage them to minimize relapse behaviors.
Does Everyone Need Detox?
Most patients require some medical or psychotherapeutic attention during the detox period, but not everyone will experience physical withdrawal symptoms. The experience of physical withdrawal symptoms are generally contingent upon these factors:
- Drug of choice
- Frequency and amounts of misused substances
- Other drugs used in conjunction
- Co-occurring mental health issues
- Co-occurring medical issues