Level of Care: Detox
Detoxification, or detox, is usually the first stage of treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders.
Here’s more about what detox is, how it works, and how it can benefit those recovering from substance use disorders.
What Is Detox?
Supervised detox is a treatment that manages the physical symptoms of withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. When a person becomes physically dependent on drugs and alcohol, they will experience a set of “withdrawal” symptoms when they abruptly stop using these substances.
Many people who struggle with addiction are often reluctant to seek treatment out of fear of experiencing severe illness as they recover from drug dependence. Medically supervised detox aims to reduce the severity of symptoms and withdrawal-related complications to help people feel more comfortable as they recover from addiction.
Drug and alcohol detox usually takes place in a relaxing residential environment where patients can be supervised and monitored by nurses and doctors as they go through withdrawal. Medications are often used to reduce and relieve withdrawal symptoms and to minimize potential complications such as seizures. The detox method and protocol will vary based on the severity of the addiction and on the type of substances that were being used.
Detox manages the acute symptoms of withdrawal. Patients who experience ongoing psychiatric symptoms or post-acute withdrawal symptoms may need long-term treatment in a drug or alcohol rehab program.
After completing detox, many patients transition into a residential addiction treatment program to receive a variety of behavioral therapies aimed at teaching them how to manage triggers and function as healthier, productive, and sober individuals.
What Happens During Detox?
Before beginning a detox program, patients are evaluated by doctors who develop a customized treatment plan based on the severity of their dependence and the type of substances used. Detox can last anywhere between a few days to a week, sometimes longer in more severe cases. For instance, heroin and alcohol withdrawal may last between two and 10 days, while benzodiazepine withdrawal may last for a bit longer, according to the World Health Organization.
During this period, patients are monitored closely and given medications to treat certain symptoms as they arise. Patients recovering from opioid dependence may be given replacement medications that work similarly to the opioids they were misusing but don’t produce euphoria. These medications (e.g., buprenorphine, methadone, Suboxone) can effectively reduce and/or eliminate opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Patients dependent on prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and ADHD medications may be put on tapering schedules that gradually reduce their doses over time. Abruptly stopping certain habit-forming medications isn’t recommended as this can lead to complications such as grand mal seizures. Tapering may take place over several weeks until the patient is no longer dependent on their medication.
While in detox, patients are encouraged to relax and sleep as much as possible—especially if insomnia is an established withdrawal symptom for the drug they were using. Patients are also encouraged to engage in meditation and other calming practices and to engage in moderate exercise such as walking.
What Are the Benefits of Drug and Alcohol Detox?
Drug and alcohol withdrawal is often the most challenging part of addiction recovery, given how symptoms like drug cravings, insomnia, and muscle aches can be painful and difficult to cope with. Detox provides patients with access to medications that can safely and effectively reduce their symptoms to help them feel better.
Another top benefit to detox is having 24-hour access to nurses and doctors who can intervene at any time to prevent or treat complications. For example, while seizures are a serious complication related to alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal, recovering at a treatment facility can potentially prevent seizures from happening. Detox can also help manage acute psychiatric symptoms such as severe agitation, aggression, and depression associated with cocaine and methamphetamine withdrawal.
Who Are Ideal Candidates for Detox?
Ideal candidates for drug and alcohol detox have become physically dependent on these substances and want to stop using them without facing serious complications.
Supervised detox is also ideal for those who want to avoid pain and discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms and for those who continue using drugs and alcohol for the sake of avoiding these symptoms.
At Haven New England, we offer medically supervised detox services to treat those who are struggling with drug and alcohol dependence. Our team of highly trained nurses and doctors can anticipate and reduce symptoms as needed to help patients experience a safe, comfortable recovery.
After our patients complete detox, we will discuss their available options for drug rehab programs that can be personalized to help them experience long-term recovery from addiction.
Contact us today at (844) 933-4145 to learn more about the services and treatments available at Haven New England.