What Is Medical Detox?
Detoxification or detox, can be the beginning stage of substance abuse treatment for many individuals. Detox is necessary to manage the symptoms of withdrawal safely and with medical supervision. Detox alone does not reinforce long-term abstinence from substance abuse but it does provide the first step to becoming drug free.
Detox is closely supervised by doctors and nurses specifically trained in managing the symptoms of alcohol and drug withdrawal. If a person were to detox on their own without medical supervision, the results could be dangerous or even life-threatening. Withdrawing from alcohol or drugs can cause symptoms such as tremors, seizures, sweating, vomiting, or insomnia. These symptoms can arise as soon as a few hours after the alcohol or drug has been stopped.
Any person who abuses alcohol, cocaine, opioids, benzodiazepines, or certain “designer drugs” could benefit from medical detox. In addition, if a person has tried to quit using alcohol or drugs in the past and have experienced severe withdrawal symptoms, they should consider medical detox. There are health concerns for those who attempt detox on their own especially with alcohol withdrawal. There is a high percentage of those who relapse due to the physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is just easier to use the substance than to experience the discomfort of withdrawal.
Detox involves removing toxins from the body and allowing ample time for the body to heal from not having the substance in the body any longer. Detox will not eliminate all toxins from the body; however, it is a good start to progressively getting the person away from physical dependence. The goal of detox is to get the individual to a comfortable place where the medical risk of not taking the substance is no longer a concern.
Many addicts report different experiences during the process of detox. Cocaine addicts report feeling incredibly depressed and tired and may sleep for a few days. This could be the body’s way of eliminating the cocaine from the body and allowing healing to begin. Due to dehydration issues seen with many alcoholics and drug addicts, during detox the individual will be replenished with fluids and monitored for medications that might help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The detox process is monitored 24/7 by medical staff to ensure the individual is safe and free from physical harm caused by the withdrawal. Once medical personnel have cleared the individual from further detox, the person will either go home or continue with inpatient treatment.