Drug detox is usually the first stage in addiction recovery. Medical detox can support you through the process, helping to minimize withdrawal symptoms and ensuring your safety at all times.
Are you looking for more information on how to detox your body from drugs? In this blog, we share the different options and offer insight into each.
What Is Drug Detox?
Drug detox is the process of removing a substance and its harmful toxins from your body. The detox process varies depending on the substance and individual but usually lasts one to three weeks. In this time, most people experience withdrawal symptoms as their body adjusts to functioning without drugs or alcohol.
While drug detox is the start of most addiction treatment programs, detox alone is rarely sufficient to change long-term drug abuse. Recovery from drug addiction requires identifying and overcoming the underlying causes of addiction, rebuilding yourself, and rediscovering your life. Detox programs pave the way for this treatment, giving you the energy and concentration you need to overcome addiction.
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox, or medically supervised detox, is when you detox under the supervision of medical professionals. Medical detox is essential as withdrawal symptoms, such as those experienced when withdrawing from substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioid addiction, can be dangerous.
During medical detox, professionals are on hand to ease potentially painful withdrawal symptoms and ensure your safety at all times. They can stage a medical intervention in the event of medical complications and prescribe temporary medication if necessary.
Mental health professionals also design your detox program, which often involves tapering off the drug slowly rather than going cold turkey. This helps keep you safe and keep withdrawal symptoms to a minimum.
Medical detox can also play a role in managing cravings. Medics may be able to prescribe certain drugs, like Naltrexone for opioid addiction, to reduce cravings and help prevent relapse. They may also guide you through self-care and therapeutic practices that can help you avoid and cope with cravings in healthy ways.
What Happens in a Medical Detox?
Effective detox programs offer individualized treatment plans to suit each client’s circumstances and needs. Detox programs usually involve three stages:
Assessment and Evaluation
Before designing a detox plan, professional medics conduct an in-depth assessment of your addiction. They perform blood tests to determine the level of drugs in your blood and ask about any physical and mental health issues that may affect the withdrawal process.
During stabilization, licensed medics support you through the withdrawal process to help make detox as easy and comfortable as possible.
Once you are stabilized, medical staff will work with you to design your long-term treatment plan. They may conduct further assessments to understand more about your needs, and you may continue your program at the same center or move to a new facility.
What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Detox?
Substance abuse treatment centers may offer inpatient programs and/or outpatient programs.
An inpatient detox program involves a residential stay at a treatment center throughout the detox process. You typically stay in specialized detox facilities under 24-hour medical supervision by licensed medical professionals.
In contrast, an outpatient detox program involves regular visits to a treatment center or other qualified healthcare provider for medical checkups and professional medical advice. You will receive a personalized detox plan and may be prescribed medication. If the doctor is worried about your symptoms, they may ask you to move into a residential setting for constant observation.
Who Needs Inpatient Detox?
Inpatient medically supervised detox programs are necessary for clients who may experience severe or potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends inpatient drug addiction detox with 24-hour medical supervision for opioid, benzodiazepine, and alcohol addiction due to their potentially severe withdrawal symptoms.
Substance abuse treatment centers and other healthcare providers can offer you advice on what kind of detox you need. As well as considering the substance you take, they may ask about:
- your history of drug or alcohol use.
- any co-occurring mental health disorders you have.
- any underlying medical conditions.
- your recovery environment.
- your history of relapse.
- your readiness to change.
What Is Natural Drug Detox?
Natural detox is when you detox from drugs without using medication. Most people associate natural detox with at-home detox, but you can attend a natural detox program that offers non-medicinal support.
Natural detox often uses alternative treatments like yoga, meditation, or acupuncture to help people manage psychological symptoms, cope with painful symptoms, and resist cravings.
While natural drug detox may be safe for stimulant withdrawal, it can be dangerous for other substances. Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids all come with potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms which require addiction treatment in a professional medical setting.
What Are Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?
When you repeatedly take a drug over time, your body gets used to the presence of the substance. In turn, your body alters its natural production of chemicals so it can keep functioning normally. Eventually, you become dependent on the drug to feel normal – this is called physical dependence.
If you suddenly stop taking a drug, you experience an imbalance in chemicals, which often causes a series of symptoms known as withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms persist until your body rebalances its chemical production to ordinary levels.
Withdrawal symptoms vary hugely depending on the type of substance and your circumstances. Mild symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Low moods
- Body discomfort
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
In more severe cases, withdrawal can induce symptoms such as seizures, tremors, hallucinations, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts. Remember to seek professional medical advice before withdrawing from any drug to ensure you receive the care you need.
What Are Drug Cravings?
Drug cravings refer to the motivational state of wanting to use a drug. People often experience cravings in response to specific drug use triggers, such as seeing the drug or visiting a place they used to take the drug. While cravings can be powerful and can cause people to relapse, treatments are available to minimize cravings and help you cope with them in healthy ways.
Cravings can be especially strong during the withdrawal process. However, support from professionals and loved ones can help you cope without turning back to drugs or alcohol. During a medically supervised detox, doctors may also prescribe you particular Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications to reduce cravings.
Drug cravings involve physical changes in the brain that can persist long after a person stops using a substance. Luckily, long-term addiction treatment, including medication, support groups, and talk therapy, can go some way to reversing these changes.
As you continue your recovery journey, you may experience fewer cravings and feel better prepared to overcome them.
How Can You Make the Detox Process Easier?
Aside from accessing professional support, you can do a few things to make detox easier. These include:
- Eating healthy foods to help your body recover from substance use and provide it with the proteins to build chemicals it may be lacking, such as serotonin and dopamine.
- Drinking plenty of water, especially if you experience vomiting or diarrhea
- Doing some gentle exercise to boost your endorphins and improve your mood, if you can.
- Asking loved ones for support if you’re finding things difficult.
- Taking withdrawal a day at a time and remembering that your withdrawal symptoms won’t last forever.
Contact Us Today
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact us today.
Our detox and addiction recovery programs offer unrivaled expertise and exceptional care to every client. Call us today to make the change.