Drug detoxification, more commonly referred to as just detox, is the difficult but necessary first step in the recovery process. Ridding the body of harmful toxins and residual chemicals is vital for any addict’s ability to live without drugs and alcohol.
The physical damage on your brain and body from repeated drug abuse can begin to be repaired with a complete drug detox, and once the process is complete, you have taken a major step toward learning to live without mind-altering substances.
While people tend to believe that quitting substance can be done at home, a safe drug detox should always be done under the ongoing supervision of a trained medical facility’s staff. Since it is impossible to predict how an individual will react to the absence of substances after extended periods of use, detox must be done with proper medical supervision.
Stages of Drug Detox
Drug detox has three separate stages:
- Medical Detox: A medical doctor supervises physical withdrawal from drugs, ensuring complete safely with minimal complications. Medical drug detox can take several days, and various medications can be used to ease the pain and discomfort.
- Physical Detox: Once the body is no longer physically dependent on drugs, health can be restored. A nutritionist is advantageous during this phase, helping an addict, who previously neglected self-care, to develop a balanced diet plan.
- Emotional Detox: Drug detox can be extremely difficult on a person’s emotional health, so the majority of detoxification centers offer counseling during the detox process. Because drugs have become an integral part of an addict’s mental, emotional, and social life, successful detox also requires attention to emotional and mental health.
To begin the detoxification process and start a new life in recovery, call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731.
Types of Detoxification
Detoxification, the process of removing all destructive substances from the body and brain, is the first step in alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Drugs such as crack cocaine, heroin, PCP, amphetamines, MDMA (Ecstasy), GHB, and Ketamine, as well as abused prescription drugs (Valium, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, Norco), can remain in the body long after actual use has stopped.
While removing all residual chemicals during detoxification is necessary, the process can trigger a variety of symptoms. Drug cravings, depression, anxiety, disruptions in sleeping and eating patterns, nausea, excruciating physical pain, difficulty regulating mood and emotion, convulsions, seizure, stroke, coma, heart attack, and even death are all possible during the detox process.
Trained medical professionals currently use three types of techniques to assist in addicts and alcoholics detoxing from these harmful mind-altering chemicals:
Rapid detox, which usually takes just hours, is a medical procedure whereby a patient undergoes anesthesia in an intensive care unit and is closely monitored by physicians and hospital staff. The patient is then prescribed medications for up to a year to eliminate physical cravings.
Medical model detox is usually located in a hospital setting. Patients are screened by medical personnel and monitored closely by hospital staff, and the process may require medication.
A residential social model detoxification, which typically lasts five to ten days, is monitored 24 hours a day. The treatment team provides counseling, various therapeutic interventions, and constant supervision. During this time patients will receive food, rest and some drug and alcohol education. This type of detoxification does not utilize medical treatment.
Because the social model allows addicts to understand and experience the procedure of detoxification and then provides long-term solutions for dealing with the problems of addiction, it is usually the preferred method of treatment.
Drug Detoxification Statistics
According to the most recent Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2011, a total of 1,844,719 people, aged 12 years and older, were admitted for substance abuse treatment in one form or another. This data represents 46 states (data from Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, and Mississippi was not released), plus the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
This number, 1,844,719 people who received services for drug and alcohol abuse and addiction within one year, does not include all of the people who needed treatment but either did not have access to it or did not seek services during 2011.
The TEDS report goes on to detail the rates of admission by type of treatment: detoxification, inpatient services, outpatient treatment, and ambulatory needs.
22.5% of all admissions were for detoxification services. While this statistic means that over 400,000 people participated in a drug detox program in 2011, often detoxification is not classified as a formal treatment program and is not included in reports for admission rates. The number of people needing detox services remains much higher than the TEDS report can convey.
For those who entered a formal drug detox program, SAMHSA reports that 67% completed successfully. From there, clients can go on to inpatient and outpatient programs to continue sobriety.
Further TEDS data reports that, out of 14,311 facilities surveyed, 2,660, or 19%, provided formal, medically-monitored detoxification services. 83% of those 2,660 offered opiate detox, 65% offered alcohol detox, 58% offered benzodiazepine (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium) detox, 52% offered cocaine detox, 52% offered methamphetamine detox, and 14% offered detox for all other substances.
77% of the 2,660 drug detox facilities provided medication management services during detoxification, which includes the use of methadone, clonidine, phenobarbital, buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), naltrexone (ReVia), antidepressants, bromocriptine (Parlodel), amantadine (Symmetrel), L-dopa, acamprosate, varenicline (Chantix) bupropion (Zyban), disulfiram (Antabuse), and several others.
With proper attention, medication, and commitment, drug detox can set a recovering addict or alcoholic up for a new life.
If you, or someone you know, needs drug detox, call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731 to find the best facility and treatment plan possible.
Why Detox: Real Experiences of Withdrawal & Recovery
My mother swore off the gin and the Valium for my wedding. She was too good to her word. She started withdrawing and having convulsions at my reception and almost died in the ambulance. It put somewhat of a damper on the honeymoon.
This young woman’s mother did not take proper steps to go through drug detox safely. Instead, she stopped drugs and alcohol cold turkey, and she nearly lost her life. Detoxification from alcohol can be fatal, so medical supervision is always necessary.
Something told me I had to stop, so I did. And I stopped by myself for seven days straight. I didn’t know what I was going through. I was having flashes, I heard people talking to me, and I was sweating. I had the shakes real bad, so I called S. F. General Hospital. They gave me poison control and they transferred me to the Haight Ashbury Clinic [for psychological services].
This young cocaine addict also tried to stop cold turkey, without proper supervision. His body and brain were reacting adversely to his choice, and he too suffered great consequences. Had this young addicted not reached out when he did, he could have experienced permanent and irreversible mental or physical complications.
Billie Joe Armstrong, frontman for the band, Green Day had been trying to get sober for over a decade when an on-stage incident finally forced him into detox and formal rehab. He shares his experience with withdrawal and detox:
I was going through withdrawal. That was gruesome, laying on the bathroom floor and just feeling like...I didn’t realize how much that stuff [drugs and alcohol] affected me. And it’s not the stuff that is immediately in your system. It goes back to how long you’ve been using. It was working its way out. I was going through so much s***. Even in the second week, I was like, ‘I don’t belong here. I’m not convinced.’ The sick part of it is, I wanted to get all of the narcotics out of my system so I could start drinking.
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman lost his battle with addiction after relapsing decades after first achieving sobriety. When Hoffman relapsed, he said his progression back to full-blown opiate (heroin and prescription drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin) addiction was quick. He later participated in a 10-day drug detox program, but did not enroll in a formal treatment program. While detoxification is the first step toward a new life without drugs and alcohol, it is only the first step. Additional services are needed to stay clean and sober.
Drug detox alone will not keep you clean and sober. To find out what combination of programs is right for you, or for someone in your life, call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731.
Formal Treatment to Stay Clean and Sober
A 24-year-old recovering crack cocaine user shares his experience. He went through drug detox, formal treatment, and still had difficulty accepting that he could not use any mind-altering substances:
Friday I was feeling good. I even went to a meeting. I’d been in this program for two years. I thought I could have one drink to relax with some friends I ran into. I had about five Scotches and ended up using coke all night long in a hotel with two prostitutes. I went through about $700 and was broke, and then I stole $150 from my roommate. I was ripped off a couple of times buying stuff, and at the end of it I was tweaked and I still wanted more.
Formal treatment is the best follow up to drug detox because, as you can see, the desire to relapse, or return to drugs and alcohol, can happen at any time. This young man believed that, since alcohol was not his drug of choice, he could easily have one drink. He felt his commitment to sobriety was strong, but he was not fully knowledgeable about the fact that using any substance at all will lead back to his drug of choice, either that night, or eventually.
Beginning recovery with drug detox and an inpatient residential program is most effective. The longer the program duration the better. Generally people think of rehab as 30 days, but a majority of clients find greater success with 60, 90, or 180 consecutive days in a monitored facility.
Denial of a problem with drugs and alcohol is a common barrier for those entering treatment for addiction. For many reasons, the mind has an extremely hard time giving up a substance that seemed to offer relief from pain, an escape from reality, heightened confidence, or any other false sense of coping. It is challenging to break through denial and properly learn tools and strategies for coping within 30 days. For that reason, committing to a longer length of stay only increases the chances of sustained sobriety and a new life of recovery.
If you, or someone in your life, is ready to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, contact the team at Recovery Now TV today at 800-281-4731. A new life awaits