Drug and alcohol addiction are powerful problems that can cause people to do things they usually would not do. Every year, approximately 23.5 million people struggle with a drug or alcohol problem. Of them, roughly 3 million ever seek treatment— starting with detox. Medical detoxification, or detox, is the widely available first step of drug or alcohol addiction treatment for those who need it. If you are looking to address an addiction, here is more information about medical detox:
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detoxification is the best way to manage the early stages of addiction treatment. With medical detox, patients can safely handle the acute withdrawal symptoms that come out once substance use stops. Unlike non-medical or rapid detox methods, medical detox:
- takes place in a safe environment
- requires the supervision of medical professionals
- has been proven through research and practice to be useful in helping to beat addiction in the long-term
Tackling a drug or alcohol problem through medical detox is necessary to achieving a happy, healthy, and sober life. While it is true that some people may struggle with detox, it’s not dangerous when you have a skilled and professional team of addiction counselors working on your health and wellness. Detoxing doesn’t have to be scary and hazardous when you place your trust in a caring and experienced medical team.
Can’t I Detox on My Own?
The simple answer is: no. Contrary to popular belief, detoxing without medical supervision— especially the “cold turkey” method— has a meager rate of success among those trying to quit for good. This is partly because detox is only one part of a much larger recovery regimen. Detoxification is just the first stage of addiction treatment. In fact, detox is not a sufficient way of treating addiction by itself, and it does very little to change long-term substance abuse.
Is Medical Detox Really Necessary?
Medical detox is usually the first step of the addiction treatment process because most patients do need it. In fact, the patients who need medical detox as part of their treatment plan have addictions that:
- are driven by physical dependence
- threaten their health, both short-term and long-term
- would elicit great discomfort during the withdrawal process without medical supervision
For the most part, the people who use or abuse any of the following substances require medical detox:
As one of the few legal substances on this list, alcohol is something that many people can use without any problems. After all, who doesn’t enjoy having a glass of wine with dinner now and then? Still, there are some who find it hard to stop drinking once they start. Plus, the withdrawal symptoms for patients who struggle with alcohol dependency are among the most dangerous. In fact, they can even become life-threatening. This is why supervised medical detox is the safest and most comfortable way to start the alcohol addiction treatment process.
Prescription drug addiction has been on the rise for quite some time. Actually, the country is currently facing one of the most significant health emergencies in history: the opioid crisis. Prescription painkillers, like alcohol, are a legal substance that almost anyone can have access to, whether through ownership or a loved one. And, unfortunately, a large number of people who struggle with painkiller addiction start off using responsibly but then lose control after building tolerance and trying to self-medicate. Stopping prescription drug abuse alone is a near-impossible task. In fact, certain prescription opioids— like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin— can induce withdrawal symptoms very similar to those in heroin users.
Prescription drug abuse can be expensive, so a lot of the time, opioid users turn to heroin as a quicker, cheaper, and more convenient substitute. Although detoxing from opioids isn’t usually dangerous, the discomfort that comes with opioid detox—especially heroin detox— typically requires medical supervision to be even remotely comfortable.
Benzos are a class of prescription drug designed to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I can also help with insomnia, which is often a symptom of GAD. However, benzos are particularly addictive and have a high potential for abuse. Even worse, benzos are notoriously challenging to quit, especially without medical help. Stopping the use of benzos like Valium or Xanax can bring about excruciating and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Medical supervision is essential for benzos detox.
While detoxing from stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamines isn’t life-threatening, it is incredibly unpleasant. Some patients in treatment for stimulant addiction might need medical detox to cope with various symptoms during early abstinence, like extreme mood swings.
While the substance listed above are the most extreme cases, there are others that may also require medical detox depending on the individual patient’s situation. For example, patients struggling with a dual diagnosis, poly-substance addiction, or particularly heavy use may need medical detox to manage and cope with withdrawal symptoms.
What is it Like to Go Through Medical Detox?
Aside from the presence and supervision of medical staff, medical detox is not any different from any other forms of detox. The primary difference is that supervising medical staff offer around-the-clock care to ensure their patients’ health and safety. Plus, the medical practices available to patients will keep the effects of withdrawal at a minimum. Still, even supervised detox is still detox. Withdrawal will still happen, but it will be significantly more manageable with help from professionals.
What Kinds of Withdrawal Symptoms Can I Expect?
The kind of symptoms you experience during withdrawal and the severity of these symptoms depend on a wide variety of factors. Since every patient and every addiction is unique, every set of withdrawal symptoms is also different. The list of acute withdrawal symptoms for any addiction is long, but medical addiction treatment professionals are equipped to address any patient’s needs. For the most part, a patient going through acute withdrawal might experience symptoms like:
- dry mouth
- panic or fear
- upset stomach
- rapid heartbeat
- increased appetite
- decreased appetite
- muscle aches or pain
- exhaustion or fatigue
- hostility or aggression
- irritability and mood swings
- sensitivity to stressful situations
- trouble concentrating or thinking
- uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- memory loss or lack of memory retention
- anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure
- malaise, or general feelings or illness or discomfort
It’s important to remember that withdrawal symptoms of any kind are always temporary. And, with medical supervision, withdrawal is manageable. In fact, withdrawal tends to pass for most patients in addiction treatment after a few days, or maybe a week or two. Without medical support, acute withdrawal may last much longer— perhaps months.
How Long Does Detox Take?
Since detox is different for everyone in addiction treatment, there isn’t really any discernible timeline. The amount of time that detox takes, even under medical supervision, depends on:
- the substance of choice
- the withdrawal symptoms
- substance use history (i.e., the extent of use, the frequency of use, etc.)
- susceptibility to addiction development (genetic and/or environmental factors)
While everyone’s experiences in medical detox will be different, most medical detox timelines fall within about 10 days. It could be shorter or longer, depending on the factors listed above, and rarely exceeds a couple of weeks or so. For the most part, detox is not a months-long endeavor.
Why Isn’t Detox Enough to Get Me Sober?
Medical detox by itself is not a sustainable form of addiction treatment. Instead, it’s only the first step of addiction treatment. Although it’s true that medical detox will help addiction patients feel significantly better, it’s not always enough to inspire sobriety. In fact, most professionals highly recommend going into continued care after medical detox. Without this transition, addiction treatment patients run the risk of relapsing. With this in mind, medical detox should always be followed by an addiction treatment program, whether residential or outpatient.
Outpatient addiction treatment is a viable option for those who want to return to their daily routines after detox. However, between the two options, residential care is usually the better option for those who are still in the early stages of addiction treatment. In fact, patients are typically advised to do medical detox first, then residential care, and then finally outpatient care.
At a residential addiction treatment facility, the staff will work directly with you during your recovery. With the right programs, you can achieve long-term sobriety. Some of the best programs for addiction recovery include:
These and other programs help in different ways, and they can all bring patients closer to achieving their goals of getting sober. The best course of treatment will vary depending on the person, the type of addiction, the length of the addiction, and more. And, with help from the addiction specialists at The Treatment Center Residential Addiction Care, you’ll receive the best care and treatment possible during your recovery.
How Can I Get Started?
Drug and alcohol addiction is something that many people struggle with today. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, now is the time to seek help. Once you admit you have a problem, you can explore your options and get the support and treatment you need to get sober. No matter who you are or where you come from, finding a reputable detox treatment center is imperative. It just might mean the difference between lifelong sobriety and frequent relapse. Those who try to quit an addiction problem on their own may find that the struggle is too much handle. So, the longer you wait to get help, the more problems you’ll experience.
Medical Detox at TTC Care
Are you ready to give sobriety another chance? If you’re prepared to turn your life around and beat your addiction, call The Treatment Center Residential Addiction Care at (844) 201-3136 today. We can provide you with top quality drug and alcohol treatment, starting with medical detox, and provide you with the care and treatment you need to finally get sober. Our goal here at our detox treatment center is to ensure your road to recovery is as smooth as possible. So, instead of trying to get sober alone, The Treatment Center Residential Addiction Care and its team of professionals are here to provide you with all the support, guidance, and training you’ll need to get sober and beat your addiction for good.