The addiction problem in the U.S. is substantial. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) reports that half of the people surveyed, ages 12 and up, have used illicit drugs at least once. Additionally, since 2000, more than 700,000 Americans have died from a drug overdose.
Detox is often the starting point for drug or alcohol abuse treatment. The NCDAS shares that while more than 950,000 Americans thought they needed treatment for substance abuse, less than half (about 400,000) sought help. What is a medical detox program, and what are some reasons a person should consider medical detox?
What is Medical Detox?
Medical detoxification or detox is the process of ridding the body of alcohol or drugs under the care of medical professionals. Done in a controlled environment with health care workers offers a safer way of managing potential withdrawal symptoms and any medical complications that can arise during this process.
Detox done in a medical setting offers the person the option of medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and other side effects. Medical detox is not the same as rehab. A medical detox center provides a place to:
- Medically stabilize someone
- Minimize their withdrawal symptoms
- Prevent any harmful effects of withdrawal
- Transition the individual into a substance abuse rehab
A rehabilitation or rehab facility is the next stage of treatment where the person begins the work of learning to manage their addiction via behavioral therapy and medications. When this step is completed, they can opt to continue in an outpatient program or another treatment facility if needed. They may also choose to return to their homes and jobs to continue their sober journey.
How Long Does Medical Detox Take?
There is no definitive timeline for medical detox. How long someone needs to remove all drugs or alcohol from their system will depend on the type of drug being used, as well as the individual. Other factors that impact the time medical detox can take include how long the person has been abusing drugs or alcohol, the average amount of the substance used, and the method by which the person consumed the drugs.
Using medication in a medical detox setting can potentially lengthen the time someone experiences withdrawal somewhat. Additionally, a person’s age, gender, and overall mental and physical well-being will play a role in determining how long their body needs to remove all drugs or alcohol. These considerations will also play a role in the severity of the withdrawal symptoms they may experience.
Reasons to Consider Medical Detox
Even with the possibility of a more extended withdrawal period connected to medical detox, there are many reasons for someone needing help with substance abuse to consider pursuing this option.
- Medical detox helps to manage withdrawal symptoms. Detox is not a pleasant experience; using medical interventions can lessen the severity of the experience, making it somewhat more comfortable.
- Many people who complete rehab start with medical detox. It is important to remember that detox is only the first step toward recovery, but it is an essential component.
- Medical detox can assist with other underlying medical conditions that may arise. One advantage of medical detox is that health care providers can spot any underlying physical issues or illnesses as the body frees itself from drugs and alcohol. Then they can offer the appropriate treatment.
- Medical detox increases a person’s chances of a successful recovery. Having medical professionals monitor an individual’s progress can go a long way toward helping someone navigate the many challenges that come with this first stage of recovery.
- Medical detox helps people avoid relapse. Being under the care of health care professionals to manage withdrawal symptoms isn’t the only advantage medical detox offers; it also provides the person with support from peers undergoing the same challenge. Medical detox also provides a safe space where the person cannot access drugs or alcohol.
After Medical Detox
When a person has completed a medical detox program, they are still at the beginning of their recovery journey. Next, they must select the best option to continue their treatment. There are several options, including short- or long-term residential treatment, outpatient treatment programs, or ongoing counseling either as an individual or in a group.
Which options someone chooses will depend on several factors. First, the person needs to determine what their personal goals are for rehab. Certain centers specialize in the care of specific addictions. Another consideration is that some people may not be able to be away from home for an extended period because of the need to care for family or to continue working. A person’s insurance coverage and financial ability also will impact the type of treatment they select. It may be necessary to investigate several options before deciding which will be the best fit.
Bridges of Hope’s treatment philosophy is based on a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing all issues related to substance use and mental health disorders. Utilizing therapeutically proven, evidence-based clinical practices, Bridges of Hope provides superior patient care in Indiana through its all-inclusive treatment services.