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Why Is a Medical Drug Detox Necessary?

Detox, also known as detoxification, is the first stage in the recovery process for most drug and alcohol addictions where the body is cleansed of the substances that are polluting it.

One of the biggest obstacles to recovery is the fear of the withdrawal process. Many drug and alcohol addicts will continue their addictive behavior long after they want to quit, simply to avoid the detox process and painful symptoms that accompany the withdrawal. Some even try to detox from their addictions at home, suffering through days of discomfort and violent withdrawal only to go back to abusing drugs and alcohol to relieve the pain. This is where a Medical Drug Detox is necessary.

Why Is a Medical Drug Detox Necessary

What is a Medical Drug Detox?

A medical detox facility is a treatment center that is staffed with doctors and nurses trained in helping patients cope with the withdrawal symptoms of early drug or alcohol abstinence. Without medical care, these withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, dangerous, and even life-threatening.

During detox, the patient stops using the substance or substances to which they’re addicted completely. This results in their body experiencing withdrawal, a painful, uncomfortable, and often terrifying series of symptoms ranging from cravings to hallucinations. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms such as seizures can even cause death, meaning that proper medical supervision, such as, at a medical detox is critical. This is especially true for alcohol and opioid detox. During withdrawal, medical intervention is often necessary to keep the patient safe and comfortable.  Some of the most common interventions include medication and therapy.

Patients are significantly more likely to complete a supervised medical drug detox than an unsupervised detox. There are a number of reasons for this, including increased comfort, better safety, having a support system, the love and connection provided by treatment professionals, and increased motivation. Once a patient gets through detox, their eventual likelihood of successfully obtaining sobriety goes up dramatically.

Is Medical Drug Detox Needed?

Detox is needed when someone is abusing alcohol, heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, pills, or other addictive substances. When someone consumes large amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, they can become dependent on it. This is the same with heroin and opiate pain medications, which also may require detox. Other pills such as benzodiazepines, known as benzos, (Valium, Xanax, etc.), barbiturates or barbs, Soma, and Ultram also cause withdrawal symptoms and may require detoxification.

But not every person needs medical detox. People who need medical detox are those who have a physical addiction to certain drugs:

  • Heroin
  • Prescription pain pill
  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine/Methamphetamine
  • Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
  • Barbiturates (Barbs)
  • Others depending on the situation and diagnosis
  • Would experience great discomfort withdrawing without assistance
  • Would risk their health withdrawing without medical supervision

How Long Does Medical Detox Take?

There is no set time for medical detox. It could be from a few days up to 2 weeks depending on the situation and the severity.

Is Medical Drug Detox Enough?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) states:

Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. However, medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Although detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.

Although patients will often leave a medical detox facility feeling better than they have in years, those that do not transition from detox to continuing addiction treatment are almost certain to relapse.

While the main priority of every detox program is to ensure safe withdrawal in a medically supervised setting, at Garden State Detox we also believe that every effective detox program should set a solid foundation for long-term sobriety, and prepare each individual client for a seamless transition to the next appropriate level of clinical care.