Addiction Definition

What Is Detox?

drug abuse help

“I think I’m an addict.  How can I get help? I’ve heard about detox programs, but what is detox?  Is detox part of rehab? What can I expect?”

We’ve heard all these questions before. These questions are especially common for those who have never received help for their addiction before, and don’t know what to expect before detoxing. 

Below we will list everything you should know before entering a detox program, so you will feel more prepared before making this huge decision. 

Common Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox

When someone begins detox, they will probably experience withdrawal symptoms; these side effects occur when someone abruptly stops using drugs or drinking. The most common substances that cause withdrawal symptoms are cocaine, alcohol and opiates. The symptoms of withdrawal, as listed by the National Institute of Health (NIH), include the following issues:

  • Decreased activity and appetite
  • Depression
  • Disturbing and vivid dreams
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils

In other words, it can be extremely difficult and painful to detox from a drug, so you or a loved one need to seek professional help do so.

Stages of Detox

Many treatment centers follow similar guidelines for the detox process. Here is what you can expect at most rehabs:

Evaluation: Immediately after an addict enters rehab, they are tested for any substances currently in their bloodstream. This stage of detox often includes a physical and mental health screening, especially to diagnose any co-occurring disorders. The center’s healthcare professionals will use this assessment to customize a treatment plan that best suits her individual needs.

Stabilization: Healthcare professionals will assist the user through detox. This stage may or may not incorporate medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, but either way the focus is on helping the person reach a stable and substance-free state.

Fostering entry into treatment: Since detox is only the first stage of rehab, it prepares users to complete the rest of treatment. It encourages users to commit to the entire rehab process, instead of leaving the program after the detox.

What You Need to Know Before Detoxing

It may seem straightforward to simply enter a detox program and start the recovery process, right? That’s not necessarily the case. It’s important to be informed and to do your research before detoxing safely. Here’s what you need to know before you detox:

Detox Isn’t Easy: Your body is definitely going to crave the drug that you’ve previously been taking. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms as well as potentially self-destructive behaviors.

Make Sure It's Licensed: Believe it or not, you don't need to be licensed by the state to open a detox for drug addiction and alcoholism if you don't provide an actual medical detox. Doing your research before entering a detox program to ensure your safety is crucial. 

Medical Vs. Social Detox: There is a massive difference between a medical detox - that requires 24/7 nursing staff and the ability to use drugs to safely detox individuals - and a social detox. Without a detox by licensed medical professionals, those struggling with alcohol or benzo addiction in particular can actually die if not detoxed properly. 

The times for the detoxification process will vary. Each individual is different. However, as a general rule, the process will take somewhere between two and three days. It usually depends on the drug used as well as the intensity and length of use.

Are the Staff Licensed Medical Professionals?: Check how long it's been around and what the credentials are of its staff. Are they licensed medical professionals, or simply drug and alcohol counselors with a 2-year certification that offer only "social detox”? 

A social detox involves careful monitoring of the patient through a residential inpatient setting. The patient is not administered medication, but is assisted through the detox process with counseling and therapy. Although a combination of counseling, therapy, and medically assisted detox can provide significant results, it can be crucial for a patient to receive the medication they need when they’re going through the withdrawal process. 

Once again, doing your research and finding out exactly what a detox center or rehab offers is important before recovering from addiction. 

Connections to Ongoing Treatment: Detox does not treat the underlying psychological or trauma issues surrounding addiction, detoxing only removes the physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. So it's important to connect with a detox that can help one find ongoing support post-discharge. 

Finding support after detoxing can make a huge difference in one’s recovery. This level of support can increase the chance of long-term recovery for you or a loved one. 

"Long term recovery is a unique process that one does not want to rush since we are dealing with the intricate processes of the brain," Ashlea Taylor, LMFT, Clinical Director at Pinnacle Peak Recovery states. "The brain is a pattern seeking organism and it needs time to rewire and change behavioral patterns in order to produce changes such as long term recovery. Plan for time for the brain to heal!"

Does It Take Your Insurance?: Make sure the rehab you or your loved one are going to that they take your insurance and that your insurance will cover the treatment. 

If you have questions about insurance coverage, don’t hesitate to call our admissions specialists. We can answer any questions you have about the right payment plans for you or a loved one to detox safely.

For some individuals, it may take a few tries to complete the entire detoxification process. Although some people are able, not everyone can complete the drug detox on the first try. If this ends up being you, don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. As long as you are committed to turning your life around and making the lifestyle change, you need to attempt the drug detox program again so that you can continue the rehab process.

Call Pinnacle Peak Recovery today at 866-954-0524 to help your loved one receive the treatment they deserve. You can also learn more about our programs by checking out our page!