Getting clean is extremely difficult, in no small part because of the physical cravings that emerge after the effects of your drug of choice wears off. Cravings can be physically painful and emotionally traumatic, and once you enter a period of withdrawal, which can start anywhere from hours to days after the last use, the urge to do anything to stop the agony often leads to relapse.
One of the most painful stigmas around addiction is the message addicts receive around detox [A1] and cravings: they are often told that if they really wanted to stop, they could, and that willpower should be enough. But it’s not, and using willpower alone to stop using can lead to relapse, seizures and even death.
If you’re considering taking the important step of getting sober, you should consider detoxing in a medically supervised environment where trained professionals can keep you safe and comfortable as your body gets used to a drug-free state of being.
What Is Detox?
Detox is the process of the body getting used to functioning without your drug of choice. When a drug has been abused for a long time, the body adjusts to having the substance in your system in large quantities; its sudden absence causes intense physical and emotional symptoms – withdrawing from alcohol, benzos and opiates can even be fatal. Detox will happen when a patient goes to a facility, either a rehab or a hospital, and agrees to stay there for the duration of the withdrawal. Detox programs typically last about five to 10 days.
Detox has three commonly accepted stages: evaluation, stabilization and fostering entry into treatment.
During evaluation, doctors will perform tests to get a better sense of the extent of drug use and the mental and physical health of the patient. Evaluation will inform the detox process.
During stabilization, healthcare staff will perform withdrawal management to ensure the patient is safe and as comfortable as possible. After withdrawal subsides, the patient will learn about their own role in recovery and how they can proceed with treatment.
During the third stage, fostering entry into treatment, which involves reviewing their options and receiving encouragement and support to pursue further treatment. This step is crucial because many patients who undergo detox do not subsequently enter into a rehab program, which unfortunately often leads to relapse.
Who Needs Drug and Alcohol Detox?
You may be tempted to go it alone, but in most cases, this is a dangerous decision. The majority of those struggling with addiction should undergo detox, particularly if one or more of these factors applies to you:
1. Intense Withdrawal Symptoms
If you experience severe withdrawal symptoms soon after you stop using, that’s a pretty good indication that you will need to detox in a supervised environment. Intense and rapid onset withdrawal symptoms are a sign that you are extremely dependent on your substance of choice, which will make your withdrawal symptoms that much more intense and possibly dangerous.
2. Ongoing Drug Use
If you’re accustomed to always having your drug of choice in your system, then detox is probably right for you. If you’ve ever gone without your substance for longer than usual and have symptoms like nausea, sweating, vomiting, anxiety or body aches, this is an indication that your body is probably physically dependent on the drug. During your detox, a team of medical professionals should be on hand in case the symptoms become unmanageable.
3. Alcohol Use Disorder
Even if your addiction to alcohol is not severe, experts advise that when alcohol is involved, patients should undergo detox. Alcohol withdrawal is dangerous and could include hallucinations, seizures and delirium tremens. And, if you’ve gone through severe alcohol withdrawal before, you’re more likely to experience it again.
Benzodiazepine, Opioid or Barbiturate Use Disorder
If you’re detoxing from benzodiazepines, opioids (for example heroin or fentanyl) or barbiturates, it’s recommended that you always do so in the care of a medical professional. Withdrawing from any of these drugs can be painful, and there is a risk of death from opioid withdrawal without medical attention.
If you suffer from co-occurring mental health issues, physical health issues or more than one substance use disorder, you should attend a detox facility. Co-occurring conditions are complicated, so it’s important that you surround yourself with professionals that understand how your various conditions interact.
Quick Answers About Detox
Detox is an essential first step to recovery for those struggling with addiction. But it can be overwhelming for those who aren’t familiar with the process. Here are some of the most common questions about detox:
Does my insurance cover detox?
Under the Affordable Care Act, medically required detox is covered.
How do I find a detox facility?
You will need to do some research and prepare a list of questions for the detox facility you’re considering. Look for a center that is certified by the Joint Commission, and make sure there are certified medical professionals on staff. If a detox center has a large amount of negative reviews online, be cautious.
What do I do after detox?
It’s imperative that you enter a treatment program after detox. Detox gives you a solid foundation and a clear head to explore the root causes of your addiction and learn tools to help you live a sober life from here on out.
Find a Detox Center That Prioritizes Your Recovery
If you’re ready to get sober, know that what lies on the other side of the challenge of detox is unbelievably rewarding – and Chelsea By The Sea can help. We offer unique services for every stage of recovery, and our caring and compassionate team of medical professionals will ensure that you’re safe and comfortable throughout the entire detox process. We’re located in the heart of Huntington Beach and we accept most insurance plans, so you can recover worry-free with the ocean at your fingertips.
Contact us today to find out how we can support you to make the changes you want to see in your life.