Detoxification is a broad term that describes the process of removing harmful or addictive chemicals from your body. During detox you will experience withdrawal symptoms that are caused by your body’s reaction to the sudden lack of the psychoactive chemical that it has gotten used to and relied on while you were using. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable but ultimately harmless, and in other cases, withdrawal symptoms can be deadly or cause medically dangerous complications.
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DON’T GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY ALONE. GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.
DON’T GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY ALONE. GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.
What is Drug Detox?
Medical drug detox is a clinical service that involves 24 hours of medically managed treatment every day. A team of medically trained professionals with experience in treating addiction will be on staff at all times to help alleviate painful symptoms and to avoid dangerous complications. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) continuum of care, medically managed services like medical detox are the highest level of care in addiction treatment.
Medical drug detox not only helps you alleviate painful symptoms of withdrawal but it can also help you to avoid relapse during your withdrawal phase. Withdrawal comes with a variety of symptoms depending on a number of factors, including:
FACTORS THAT AFFECT DRUG WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
- The type of addictive substances you used during active addiction. Opioid, stimulants, and depressants, each have a few unique withdrawal symptoms. For instance, opioids may cause flu-like symptoms, stimulants can cause psychological symptoms, and depressants can cause seizures.
- If you used more than one type of drug at once. Detox for polydrug use will require specific treatment because you may be experiencing more than one set of withdrawal symptoms at once.
- The length of time you used drugs during active addiction. The longer you used drugs, the greater your tolerance will be. Generally, people who use addictive substances for a long time, experience more intense drug withdrawal symptoms.
- Co-occurring medical issues. If you enter treatment for a substance use disorder with another medical issue, it will also be addressed during medical drug detoxification. Addiction often comes with infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis, but people seeking treatment may also have chronic diseases or injuries that need care.
- Co-occurring mental issues. Emotional and cognitive mental health issues can get in the way of productive and effective treatment if they are left untreated. Some drugs, like meth, can even cause extreme depression and paranoia. For treatment to be effective, mental health needs should be addressed alongside physical needs.
While there are a number of factors that contribute to your withdrawal symptoms and the type of treatment you receive, the most common withdrawal symptoms across all addictive drugs is the feeling of intense drug craving. On your own, it may be difficult to resist these cravings, especially while you are going through other uncomfortable withdrawals. In medical detox, you will have supervision and 24/7 monitoring to keep you from relapsing in a moment of weakness.
Do I Need Medical Drug Detox Treatment Services?
If you are worried that you have become addicted to a psychoactive substance like alcohol or certain drugs, you may be wondering if medical detox is really necessary for you. There are a variety of factors that contribute to your need for drug detoxification. ASAM has developed a list of criteria for clinicians to use when determining a person’s level of care. Understanding these standards can help you better understand you need for a specific level of care in addiction treatment.
The first three dimensions are generally used to determine a person’s need for detox and medically managed services. If you are high-risk in any of these categories you may need medical detox.
The last three are generally used to determine the course addiction treatment might take after medical detoxification is completed. However, they may inform doctors and clinicians as to the other needs of their client. If you are currently looking for addiction treatment services, the following dimensions can tell you what you might need after detox and to go into a detox program that can connect you with services that can meet your need for continued care:
The first dimension is your withdrawal potential. If you have recently stopped using certain drugs or if you are currently using addictive drugs, then you will have a high potential for withdrawal. Some drugs, like alcohol or benzodiazepines, can cause seizures and Delirium tremens and, without medical treatment, those symptoms can be deadly. Other drugs like opioids aren’t typically deadly in withdrawal symptoms but they can cause medical complication in some people.
The second dimension takes any medical conditions or complications into account. Your medical history and the existence of any medical issues that can be complicated by the withdrawal process can mean the need for a high level of care. For instance, a heart problem can be exasperated be intense withdrawal symptoms. Opioids can cause dehydration through excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting which can lead to dangerous complications, especially in people with other medical issues.
The third dimension looks at emotional, behavioral, and cognitive issues a person might have. Mental health issues and addiction can feed off of one another and make both problems worse. Some drugs can cause mental symptoms like methamphetamine can cause extreme depression during withdrawal, so much so, that depression symptoms can increase suicidal thoughts and actions. In cases where mental health can complicate treatment, a higher level of care may be necessary.
The fourth dimension involves your readiness to change according to the transtheoretical model, which places people in need of a change in one of five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. People who are in the pre-contemplation stage of change may not accept the fact that they have a problem, or they might not be aware that they have one at all. People in this stage of change may be placed in a higher level of care, especially if they are currently using drugs or alcohol.
The fifth dimension concerns a person’s potential for relapse of continued use. Some people that have a history of relapse can benefit from specific therapies and interventions that are designed to help people that struggle with relapse prevention.
The sixth and final dimension considers a person’s recovery and living environment or the place they will live during or after recovery services. Some environments produce a higher risk than others. Abusive environments can be challenging to someone trying to avoid triggers and high-risk situations and living with other people who are active users presents its own problems. Residential or more intensive levels of care may be necessary for people living in high-risk environments.
To learn more about assessments and intake processes that place you in the best level of care for your needs, call Ocean Breeze Recovery today.
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How Long is Medical Drug Detox?
In addiction treatment, the length of time you spend in a particular therapy or treatment largely depends on your specific needs. One of the principles of effective treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is that treatment has to last for an adequate amount of time. However, medical detox is a bit more standardized than other levels of care. Typically, the detox process lasts from a few days to a week. In some cases that involve medical complications or long periods of active addiction, the detox process could take up to two weeks.
Still, treatment should be based on what you need as an individual rather than conforming to a standard deadline.
It’s important to note that completing detox shouldn’t be the end of addiction treatment for most people. Instead, you should transition to the next level of care that’s appropriate for your needs. For instance, Ocean Breeze Recovery is a part of an addiction treatment network in which you go through detox at Arete Recovery and the on-staff clinicians will help place you in a treatment center that is ideal for your needs in continued recovery.
What to Expect in Medical Drug Detox
Drugs and alcohol can affect the brain and body in unique ways. Plus, every person is different physically, mentally, and emotionally. In order to get you the best treatment for your needs, you will start treatment with a medical evaluation. When you arrive in a detox program, you will need to be evaluated based on your specific medical history, the length of time you’ve been using chemical substances, the effects they’ve had on your body, and the presence of a co-occurring physical or mental disorder. Your time in detox will be built around the results of your evaluation and it could also inform the treatment you receive after detox.
Medically managed service and monitoring will be available 24-7. Through care from medical professionals with specialties in addiction care, your withdrawal symptoms can be effectively alleviated through medical interventions. Plus, round-the-clock monitoring will help you avoid medical complications or quickly treat any that do occur.
Going through withdrawal by yourself can be dangerous but drug and alcohol detox is the safest way to achieve abstinence from addictive substances. Drug withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous if you go through them alone, especially if you have become dependent on a central nervous system depressant like alcohol or benzodiazepines. If you believe that you have become dependent on an addictive psychoactive substance, medical treatment may be required to safely remove the drug from your system.
If you or a loved one is in need of addiction treatment or medical detox, call the addiction specialists at Ocean Breeze Recovery today at 855-960-5341 to learn more about your recovery options. Withdrawal symptoms can be painful, but you don’t have to go through them alone.
- “American Society of Addiction Medicine.” What Is the ASAM Criteria,
- Johannes, et al. “Transtheoretical Model and Stages of Change: A Critique: Observations by Five Commentators on the Paper by Adams, J. and White, M. (2004) Why Don't Stage-Based Activity Promotion Interventions Work? | Health Education Research | Oxford Academic.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 23 Dec. 2004,
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Effective Treatment.” NIDA,