Are All Drug Detox Programs the Same?Anna Ciulla
When a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction decides to enter treatment, one of the first questions is whether he or she needs to detox. And if the answer is yes, another question looms: are all detox programs the same?
There are many factors at play. A person is said to be “dependent” on drugs or alcohol if stopping would cause symptoms of withdrawal. In cases of dependence, some kind of detox is a necessary first step in the recovery process. The exact symptoms of detox and their severity will depend on the length of the addiction; the combination of drugs, including alcohol; the amount the person is taking when he or she enters detox; and any co-existing mental or physical problems.
Detox is often also part of a comprehensive drug rehab program. Other aspects of the program address the psychological and emotional parts of drug and alcohol addiction.
It’s important to note that in most cases, detox alone is not a sufficient treatment for addiction, no matter the drug of choice. Most addictions have both physical and psychological components, both of which the addict needs to address. Ongoing personal and family therapy, educational classes and life skills classes can all help an addict help stay clean long after detox.
When it comes to withdrawal, there are some symptoms that affect patients no matter what their drug of choice. These symptoms include:
- Physical symptoms, such as chills, sweating, tremors, shaking, headache, nausea, vomiting and fever
- Mood disturbances, such as anxiety, irritability and agitation
- Cravings for the drug
- Sleep problems, including insomnia despite extreme fatigue
Other symptoms are more specific to the substance the person is withdrawing from. Here are some examples of what can happen during detox:
- Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiate-based drugs can all cause hallucinations and seizures
- Heroin and other opioids can cause bone and muscle pain
- Stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and crystal meth, can cause depression and suicidal feelings
If you are dependent on drugs or alcohol and need detox as part of your treatment, there are a few different types of detox programs for you to choose from. These include the following:
Outpatient detox programs consist of a medical evaluation followed by one to two hour visits. Instead of staying at a treatment center 24 hours a day, people in outpatient attend programs daily or a few times a week and then go home at night. These programs are best for people with less severe addictions, as well as for those who need to maintain employment or other responsibilities.
During inpatient detox, the person stays at a recovery center and receives 24-hour-a-day care. Inpatient detox programs work best because they remove the addict from temptations to go back to old habits. They also provide therapy and, when necessary, medication to ease symptoms of withdrawal. Some programs also involve nutritional support and activities to nurture the mind and spirit, such as yoga and meditation. Inpatient detox programs vary in length, from a few days to a few weeks or more.
Detox with medication:
In some cases, medication can help ease the withdrawal process. These medications work in the brain to help stop cravings or mimic the action of the drug to help minimize withdrawal symptoms. Examples of drugs used during detox include methadone, naltrexone and disulfiram.
Withdrawal from alcohol can produce severe symptoms. As such, people undergoing alcohol detox are best to do so under the supervision of trained medical professionals in an inpatient recovery center. Alcohol detox may involve medications to ease symptoms and reduce cravings, as well as supplements such as folic acid and vitamin B1.
Although opiate withdrawal can be unpleasant, in most cases, it’s not life threatening. However, if you or a loved one has been using opiates for an extended period of time, the best place for detox is in an inpatient treatment center. Treatment for opiate withdrawal often includes medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include anxiety, cramping, and sweating, as well as supportive care.
Drug detox at home:
It is possible to detox at home, but in most cases, it’s not a good idea. If you’ve been using alcohol or a drug for a long time in large doses, detox can be medically dangerous. Therefore, it is best to detox under the care of trained professionals who can make the process as comfortable and safe as possible.
For those who can afford them, luxury detox programs provide the best amenities. These include upscale private rooms, individual attention, four-star meals and relaxation activities like yoga and massage.
As you contemplate what kind of detox program is best for you or your loved one struggling with addiction, remember: detox is no doubt an important part of the recovery process, but it is only the first step in a comprehensive recovery program. To maintain sobriety over time, you or your loved one will need ongoing care.