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Medical detox is the process of getting rid of toxins in your body due to alcohol or drug abuse with the help of medical professionals.
Detox with medical supervision occurs in an inpatient facility. During medical detox, you will stay at an inpatient facility to stay safe and away from triggers for alcohol or drug abuse. You can expect medical detox to take about one week.
When you go stop alcohol or drug use, your body will go through the detoxification process. As your body detoxifies, you might have withdrawal symptoms as your body adjusts to no longer having drugs or alcohol.
Detox is a necessary first step for long-term sobriety and addiction recovery.
Medical detox is often offered at substance abuse treatment centers. For success with ongoing treatment, your body needs to eliminate the harmful toxins from drugs and alcohol abuse. These chemicals influence the way that your brain and body function.
Medical detox is considered a short-term, inpatient stabilization service to prepare you for long-term addiction treatment.
As the toxins leave your body, you might have withdrawal symptoms as you adjust to sobriety. Your body expects to get harmful substances and goes into withdrawal when you stop using. You will experience intense cravings and risk relapsing during detox.
Cravings and withdrawal symptoms can lead you to go back to using drugs or alcohol. During medical detox, you will not have access to substances when your withdrawal symptoms get intense.
Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, painful, and might even be life-threatening.
Medical detoxification is vital because you might struggle with your symptoms of withdrawal. While under medical supervision, you can detox safely with professionals helping you through the process.
If you detox from drugs or alcohol without inpatient treatment, you might be at a greater risk of relapse, severe withdrawal symptoms, overdose, or death.
Detox from drug or alcohol addiction can be a serious medical concern. In some cases, without support from medical professionals, the detox process can be life-threatening.
When you go to inpatient detox at a treatment center, you get some of the following benefits:
If you or a loved one are thinking about detox, you should consider going to a substance abuse treatment center. After detox, you can continue alcohol and drug rehab as you begin long-term addiction recovery.
You can talk to your healthcare provider or search online for a medical detox program near you.
Your healthcare provider can make a referral for a medical detox program near you. Since alcohol and substance abuse are considered health issues, your insurance might pay for some or all of the costs.
You want to be sure that the facility is licensed or accredited. In some states, a license is not required to operate. When a detox facility is accredited or licensed, they are held to a higher standard.
Questions to ask your healthcare provider about medical detox programs:
Most detox facilities will help you with your medical conditions and provide aftercare services to continue your treatment. However, if you cannot find a facility near you that offers these services, you might need to look outside of your area.
You might not have the option to go to detox near you if the program you need is not nearby. Check with your insurance carrier about costs for going out of your area. You can also contact the facility about financial aid and payment options.
Withdrawal symptoms can last from a few weeks to several months, depending upon your substance use and underlying medical conditions.
The worst symptoms of withdrawal should only last a few days. During the first few days of detox, you go through the worst of it. Your body is still reacting to the change, and you need time to adjust.
Some substances take longer to detox fully than others. Withdrawal symptoms might last longer if you use a mix of substances, use hard drugs, or drink heavily. In addition, when your addiction has been going on for a long time, withdrawal might last longer.
Most withdrawal symptoms will peak within about one to three days and last about a week.
While detox and managing withdrawal is vital, long-term addiction recovery might require further treatment. You might still have cravings following detox. Untreated mental health issues can also put you at risk of a relapse.
After medical detox, it is best to get into an alcohol or substance abuse treatment facility to continue learning to manage underlying issues and stress. That way, you can maintain your sobriety long after detox.
Your treatment team might recommend medications to help you during detoxification with medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines MAT as “the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.”
Medications used during detox can offer you some of the following benefits:
MAT is primarily used to treat opioid dependence and addiction. However, due to the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved MAT medications for alcohol addiction as well.
FDA-approved medications used during detoxification for alcohol and opioid addiction include:
Other drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, don’t have FDA-approved medications for detox. Other medications might be used to help you with issues like anxiety and depression.
You might be prescribed benzodiazepines, like Valium, Xanax, or Klonopin to help with these symptoms.
You might feel depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed as you go through the detox process. You might also feel restless and have insomnia during detox. Benzodiazepines and other sedatives can help.
Since benzodiazepines can also be addictive, your healthcare professional might proceed with caution.
When considering medications, you want to weigh the costs and benefits. Some side effects of these medications can be unpleasant. However, they might be needed if you struggle to detox due to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol detox can vary depending on factors unique to you and your addiction.
Detox from alcohol abuse usually takes about a week. During that time, you might feel a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe withdrawal. Severe symptoms are more likely to occur if you have been drinking heavily for a long time.
According to MedlinePlus, “Alcohol withdrawal occurs most often in adults. But, it may also occur in teenagers or children.”
If your teen drinks heavily or uses other substances with alcohol, they are more likely to have withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox. Inpatient detox can help them manage these symptoms safely and reduce the risk of relapsing.
Withdrawal symptoms usually appear about eight hours after your last drink. These symptoms peak within about one to three days and generally last about a week. You might continue to have cravings after detox, though they should be less intense.
Cravings for alcohol might be more intense at first. You might struggle to manage triggers, even after detox. However, the worst of your withdrawal symptoms should be over when you leave the detox facility.
Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
If you drink heavily and frequently or have other medical conditions, you might have severe withdrawal symptoms called “delirium tremens,” which include:
Delirium tremens can be life-threatening. If you are concerned that your loved one will have severe withdrawal symptoms, it would be best to have them go through medical detox. During medical detox, clinicians can help through these life-threatening symptoms.
Detox treatment at an accredited facility will provide you or your loved one with the best care to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
In addition, the alcohol detox process might include medication-assisted treatment (MAT). During MAT, you get both behavioral health therapy and medications to ease withdrawal symptoms.
The FDA has approved the following medications to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms:
A complete alcohol detoxification program might include peer support and mental health treatment in addition to medical professionals. After inpatient detox, it is best to consider entering a rehab center to continue treatment.
Detox for opioids can be painful and sometimes deadly when you attempt to detox alone without medical professionals.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include both natural and synthetic opioids. Natural opioids (also called opiates) include morphine, codeine, and heroin. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl work similarly by binding to opioid receptors in the brain.
Opioids include illegal drugs like heroin and prescription pain medications like Vicodin, Oxycontin, and morphine. Many people with opioid addiction began by misusing prescription opioids.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “2.14 million people ages 12 and older had an opioid use disorder in 2016, including 153,000 12- to 17-year-olds.”
If you or a loved one have an opioid addiction, it is best to get treatment at a medical detox center. Opioid withdrawal can be life-threatening. You might relapse if you attempt to quit “cold-turkey” on your own, which can lead to an overdose.
According to MedlinePlus, opiate and opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
During detox, you are at a high risk of relapsing due to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. To help prevent relapse and overdose, you might consider medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during detox and afterward.
Many alcohol and substance abuse treatment centers offer MAT for detox and ongoing treatment.
MAT can help you stay sober, manage withdrawal, and help you focus on your recovery. During early recovery, you might struggle to focus on your treatment due to cravings or other symptoms following detox.
With MAT, you can focus on learning new coping skills, like getting peer support or managing mental health issues. You might take medications for months or years after detox while gradually tapering off as you learn new skills and get better.
The FDA has approved the following medications as part of MAT for opioid use disorder:
Naloxone, or “Narcan,” can be used during emergencies to prevent an overdose. Some brand-name drugs, like Suboxone, combine buprenorphine with naloxone as part of MAT.
Addiction treatment for opioids can be a long-term process.
To stay sober, you might need to enter a treatment program at a residential rehab facility. Many of these facilities offer aftercare services, like outpatient treatment, to help you or a loved one after medical detox and inpatient rehab.
Medical detox at an accredited drug and alcohol rehab treatment center is vital for you or a loved one to succeed in long-term addiction recovery. Sandstone Care is here for teens and young adults with mental health and substance use disorder. Call (855) 958-5511.