By Sandy Baker
The first step toward overcoming addiction is to deal with the body’s physical dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Making the decision to detox is, in itself, an act of courage. You’re admitting that you need help and are ready to get sober.
It’s important to know what to expect during this part of your recovery journey. Detox can be painful and stressful. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. In a medical or drug treatment center, however, detox can be done safely and effectively with good results.
About Medical Detoxification
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines medical detox as a process that safely manages the symptoms of withdrawal a person will experience when he or she stops using drugs or alcohol. The physical symptoms of detoxification can include:
- Irritability and moodiness; aggression in some situations
- Extreme fatigue
- Vomiting and nausea
- Fever and flu-like symptoms
- Skin-related changes such as rashes, itching, or acne
- Intense body aches and pains
- Uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms
Every person’s detox process depends on various factors, including the type of drug and the severity of the addiction. Individuals who have used a drug longer are often more dependent, therefore creating a more intense reaction when the drug is no longer present.
Understanding the Medical Detoxification Process
Not all individuals who enter into an addiction treatment program will go through a complete detox process. Only those who are currently using drugs or alcohol and who have cognitive or emotional impairments due to their substance use will need to do so.
When you enter a detox program, the goal is to have intense support in a protected environment while the addictive substance is removed from your system. This must happen prior to entering into a residential recovery treatment program.
You’ll Have a Medical Detoxification Team to Help You
When you enter The Ranch at Dove Tree’s detoxification program, you will have a team of professionals assigned to you. This will include a physician who will provide a physical and manage the physical symptoms you experience. You will also have a licensed counselor who will be charged with managing the emotional components of the disease. Additionally, certified behavioral health technicians and licensed nurses will be available to you throughout the detox process.
You’ll Be in a Safe Environment
Once you make the decision to enter detox, you will meet your team and then be admitted into the program. Depending on your condition, you may be in a hospital-like setting or in a location with a bit more privacy. You will spend between 24 and 72 hours, potentially longer, in this component of the program.
While there, your team will not provide you with access to the drugs or alcohol you were using. Instead, your body will be carefully monitored for overall health while it works through the detox program. Every person’s detox process will be unique, based on his or her specific needs. Medications and treatments necessary to help you through this process will be available to your team.
At all times, you will be treated with care and respect. It is essential that you feel you are in a safe environment. And, it is important to know that detox pain and emotional struggles will dissipate over time. Once this happens, your doctor and counselor will move you into the appropriate inpatient care.
Determining the Next Step in Addiction Treatment
Remember, detox is only the first step. It is very important to those addicted to opiates, alcohol, benzos, or multi-substance chemical dependencies, but it is not a cure in itself.
The single goal during this time period is to remove the physical presence of the drugs from your body and allow it to transition away from dependency. From here, our team may recommend a residential program.
In some cases, intensive outpatient care will be an option, but this is rarely ideal or possible to most people who enter the program through detox. You will need more one-on-one care before this can happen.
Medical Detoxification Alone Does Not Lead to Recovery
A misconception by some family members or even individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol is that if they just get the substance out of the body, a person can recover. Some believe the drug is controlling the individual. Others believe their emotional health is “good enough” to get them back on track once the drugs are gone.
Recovery without follow-up treatment rarely happens. Long-term recovery and improvement require ongoing care. You must deal with what brought you to the addiction. This could include physical or emotional abuse. It could include stresses in your life, or prevalent depression or anxiety. Our programs are meant to provide you with the solid foundation of treatment you need.