When you are fully sober and alert, you are ready to engage in long-term addiction treatment approaches like therapy and support groups. Medical detoxification, or detox, is the first stage in many addiction treatment programs. It involves removing all traces of a substance and its toxins from your body but there are 4 Detox Myths to be aware of.
Medical detox is usually necessary if you have become physically dependent on a drug or alcohol. If you repeatedly use a substance, especially in high doses, your body begins to adjust to the presence of the external drug and reduces its production of chemicals. Eventually, you become dependent on the drug just to feel normal.
If you stop taking the substance, you will likely experience a series of withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. When these are severe, twenty-four-hour medical supervision is necessary to make the process as safe and comfortable as possible. SAMSHA recommends inpatient medical detox for withdrawal from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids.
While medical detox can be an essential part of your recovery journey, many myths surround it. These myths may discourage you from checking into detox or give you unrealistic expectations of the process. Here, we give you the truth about detox so you can make the right choices on your road to sobriety.
1. You Can Detox on Your Own
Many people struggling with addiction believe that checking into a rehab center is more difficult than self-detox and try to withdraw from drugs or alcohol alone. In reality, however, managing withdrawal symptoms without medical supervision is both difficult and potentially dangerous.
Enduring withdrawal symptoms and resisting cravings are some of the most difficult parts of the recovery process. In a controlled, medically supervised environment, trained professionals are on hand to ease uncomfortable symptoms. They may provide you with medication – like Naltrexone for opioid addiction – that effectively reduce symptoms and cravings.
For some drugs, undergoing detox alone is also extremely dangerous. When you withdraw from alcohol, you can experience seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens, which may be fatal without professional support. Suddenly quitting benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax can have similar effects.
In medical detox, you are in the hands of doctors from the beginning to the end of the process. They carefully monitor your condition to ensure you are safe at all times.
2. Detox Requires Taking a Break from Your Daily Life
For some people, detoxification requires checking into a twenty-four-hour detox center; however, for others, it is a process that can take place alongside your daily life. Outpatient detox programs involve regular visits to a treatment center for medical check-ups and advice and can fit into your everyday routine. You still receive an individualized detox plan and the support of licensed medics, but you can live at home and can continue with your daily responsibilities.
If you are committed, motivated, and not at risk of serious health problems, this could be the option for you.
3. You Can’t Treat Addiction With Medication
While you cannot treat addiction with pharmaceuticals alone, they can be a key part of the recovery process. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medications are an important element of treatment for many people, especially when offered alongside counseling and other behavioral therapies.
Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone for opioid addiction and acamprosate and disulfiram for alcohol addiction have received Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Now, many detoxification centers and treatment facilities offer them as part of their recovery plans. While they don’t provide a long-term solution to addiction, they ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings so clients can fully engage in therapy and focus on the rest of their treatment plan.
4. Withdrawal Symptoms Will Last Forever
At the beginning of detox, many people are afraid their pain and discomfort will never end; however, most withdrawal symptoms subside after one to two weeks. While some people experience long-term post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), these tend to be mild and manageable with medical support.
Undergoing a couple of weeks of discomfort is well worth the lifetime of sobriety and productivity that can follow. Checking into a detox center makes this time easier and more comfortable and ensures you are safe throughout.