What to Expect in Detox
The road to recovery is a long process that requires professional care as well as effort and inner strength of the patient, this can seem as daunting and uncomfortable as it is new and unfamiliar for many addicts. Addicts strive to maintain the familiarity, comfort and ‘normalcy’ of their addiction in order to avoid dealing with the root of their problems as well as to avoid the emotional and physical discomfort of withdrawals, regardless of the negative impact it has on their body, mind and those around them. In truth however, the recovery process can be customized to provide each individual with the exact care they need to deal with underlying and co-occurring problems and be as healthy, comfortable and painless as possible. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect in drug detox.
After making the decision to get professional help, the first step upon entering a treatment program is an intake assessment and a full medical examination to determine the addict’s current and history of medical and mental health, the timeline, extent and details of substance usage, as well as to determine whether or not the patient is clean and sober at the time of entering rehabilitation. An intake assessment involves gathering all of the patient’s basic and personal information and requires the patient to be thorough and completely honest so that the program can be tailored to fit the exact needs of you and your addiction. Omitting or fabricating information might have little to no effect, but it can also result in inadequate treatment and even complications that can be life threatening.
Remember to ask as many questions as possible during this time, understanding the logistics, methods, the details of what to expect day to day as well as what is expected of you can make transitioning into the program and schedule easier. Once the information is collected it is completely confidential, no information is shared with other clients, family, employers or officials. The only times information legally needs to be shared is if there is reason to believe that the patient may cause harm to themselves or others as well as if the patient is a minor.
The next step is to remove all harmful substances from the addict’s system in a medically assisted detoxification process where medications such as receptor antagonists, relaxants and other treatments are used to stabilize the patient by mitigating withdrawal symptoms and curbing cravings. Medications that are commonly used in drug and alcohol detox include acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone, benzodiazepines such as Valium and lorazepam, anticonvulsants such as Depakote or Tegretol, anti-nausea medications such as ondansetron and finally antidepressants.
Withdrawal symptoms including mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances such as insomnia and physical issues such as vomiting, aches and tremors can last hours, weeks and months depending on the individual’s physiology, tolerance, type or combination of substances and the duration of the addiction. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last from six to 12 months after the last drug dose, as is especially prevalent for alcoholics and meth users.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that between 40 and 60 percent of people relapse after or during professional treatment compared to the majority of people who relapse from attempting to detox, recover and maintain sobriety at home. Addicts, friends and family are unqualified, inexperienced and often unprepared to address the physical dependence nor the psychological aspects of drug addiction. Round-the-clock professional medical supervision as well as being in an environment free of stressors, temptations and bad influences is important for short-term and long-term success.
Though it may feel like the world is ending, your new life is just beginning. It is important to remember that completing detoxification and attaining sobriety are just the first milestones in the journey towards recovery, the next goal is maintaining sobriety and dealing with the underlying physical and mental health issues that originally prompted or have been exacerbated by substance abuse.