Detox is often the first and one of the most important steps in the drug addiction recovery process. An individual who wishes to take part in counseling and aftercare programs must usually first complete detoxification if they want to have any chance of having these other efforts make a real impact on their life. According to the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), detox involves getting rid of the foreign substances and managing withdrawal symptoms on an as-needed basis.
Just as there are different types of drug rehab, there are also various forms of drug detox – each one designed to meet the needs of a particular type of addiction and a specific type of individual. The following is a look at the drug detox options that an individual who is ready to break the addiction cycle has at his disposal.
Natural Drug Detoxification
Natural drug detox involves the individual stopping the use of the drugs entirely – essentially going “cold turkey” while under the care of treatment professionals. While this method does result in the individual overcoming their physical addiction to drugs, it is not without its challenges. The most prominent challenges associated with natural detox are the withdrawal symptoms that an individual must endure as their body adjusts to a lack of drugs in their system. Depending on the specific addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be severe, causing the addict great discomfort. As a result, the addict may feel extremely intense urges to use the drug again in an effort to make the painful withdrawal symptoms disappear.
Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Natural Drug Detox
Although different drugs elicit different withdrawal symptoms, there are a number of conditions that tend to occur across all of them, including:
- Cravings for the substance
- Inability to sleep
As a general rule, withdrawal symptoms have their onset 24 to 48 hours after the detox process has begun and the individual has taken their last dose of the drug. Some substances cause withdrawal symptoms to appear in as soon as 10 hours after the last dosage. Withdrawal symptoms are at their most intense in the initial days that they are present and will begin to subside over time.
Medical Detox to Overcome Drug Addiction
For those individuals who are concerned about the withdrawal symptoms associated with natural detox, there is an alternative. Medical detox uses synthetic versions of common drugs to help ease the individual off the substance with a minimal amount of withdrawal symptoms.
Most commonly, the medical detox process is used to help people overcome their addiction to opiates such as heroin, Vicodin and OxyContin. In these cases, medical professionals carefully administer a synthetic opiate, such as methadone or buprenorphine. Methadone and buprenorphine act in many of the same ways as the drugs they are designed to mimic – the difference being that they are medically approved and given in decreasingly smaller dosages by the detox team. For most addicts, the goal is to gradually wean them off the maintenance medication until they are no longer taking any drugs. Some addicts, however, must continue taking their maintenance medications for years.
What Happens After Detox Is Complete?
Once detoxification is complete, the individual is usually considered stable enough to continue on with the remainder of drug rehab treatment. It is important to note that detox is NOT addiction treatment in and of itself. Completing the process of detoxification means that the individual has overcome her physical addiction to drugs. In order to maintain sobriety in the months and years to come, the individual must also address her psychological addiction to drugs. This is accomplished through drug addiction counseling.
Drug counseling makes up the bulk of time most individuals will spend in a rehab center. There are many specific varieties of counseling but the primary types include individual, group, experiential and family therapy.
- Individual counseling. The patient meets in private with a therapist to discuss the source causes of their addiction. The patient and therapist work together to help the patient develop life strategies that will promote a lifetime of sobriety.
- Group counseling. Group sessions are a chance for the individual to form a support network with other recovering addicts in the program. These meetings are, for many, the first time they ever talk openly and honestly about their addiction with other people. Most group counseling sessions are led by licensed therapists; however, 12-step meetings in the community are often led by other addicts.
- Experiential therapy. Experiential therapy can take on many forms, such as adventure therapy, art therapy, drama therapy, music therapy or animal-assisted therapy. These different forms of therapy focus on the experience rather than talking about it. Therapists guide the patient through activities where they may experience victories and learn to overcome obstacles. These lessons can then be applied to their thoughts and behaviors toward drugs or alcohol.
- Family therapy. Addiction puts a great deal of strain on the family unit. Family therapy is a chance to heal damaged relationships and to learn how to communicate with one another in a more productive way that enhances the recovery efforts of the individual.
If you’d like more information on detox or what to expect once it is complete, don’t hesitate to contact us today.