For those seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, the detoxification process can be quite daunting. When you hear the word “detox,” you might think of a cleanse or the phrase “it’ll get worse before it gets better.” Let’s face it, nothing about detoxing sounds appealing to us.
But what you may not know is that detoxification is one of the most critical first steps for those on the road to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. In fact, it is the turning point from an active addiction to a period of cleansing and healing. It’s a step in the right direction.
What is often most feared about detoxification is the unknown. Most people beginning the detox and subsequent recovery process do not know what to expect. Not everyone will need to go through the detoxification process, but if you or someone you love does, let’s first look at what detox is and who needs it.
WHAT IS DETOX & WHO NEEDS IT?
Detoxification, or detox, is the process of abstaining from alcohol or drug use until the bloodstream is clear of the consumed substance. In other words, detox is ridding an individual’s body of the substance it has come to depend on to feel normal.
The primary goal of detox is to address the physiological aspects of addiction by safely eliminating the substance from the body with the goal that the individual can safely transition from a state of physical dependence to sobriety.
The process of detoxing allows an individual to be in a controlled, optimal environment when they begin experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, which can range from mild discomfort to severe complications depending on the substance and the extent of use.
So, who needs to detox? Detox is typically recommended for anyone who is physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. Signs of physical dependence include the development of tolerance – requiring more and more of a substance to achieve the same effect – and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut down or quit.
It is important to note that detox is just the beginning of a person’s recovery journey, and that on-going support is crucial for sustained sobriety and long-term recovery success. So, why is drug and alcohol detox who important? Why is it deemed an essential part of the recovery process?
THE IMPORTANCE OF DRUG & ALCOHOL DETOX
Drug and alcohol detoxification is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals attempting to overcome substance dependence.
Detox is the initial step that sets the stage for further psychological and behavioral interventions. Once the body is free from the influence of drugs or alcohol, individuals can better engage in counseling, therapy, and other therapeutic interventions. Clearing the mind of the immediate effects of the substances allows for a more focused and effective approach to addressing the underlying issues contributing to addiction.
Prolonged substance abuse can have profound effects on the body, and with many substances, such as alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines, severe withdrawal symptoms may pose significant health risks without proper medical supervision.
WHAT SYMPTOMS ARE COMMON DURING A DETOX?
It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms are completely normal when detoxing from drugs and alcohol. Knowing what to expect can also prevent these symptoms from becoming too alarming when a person in detox begins to experience them.
The symptoms experienced during detox from drugs and alcohol can vary widely depending on the substance, the duration and intensity of use, and individual health factors. Here are some common withdrawal symptoms associated with detox from various substances:
- Early Withdrawal: Anxiety, insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain, tremors (shakes), sweating
- Advanced Withdrawal: Hallucinations, seizures, delirium tremens (DT), characterized by severe confusion, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure
Opioids (Heroin, Prescription Painkillers):
- Flu-like symptoms: Muscle aches, sweating, yawning, runny nose
- Gastrointestinal issues: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Now that we’ve covered some of the more difficult aspects of detoxing, let’s look at some of the benefits. Detoxing would not be a time-tested successful process without all of the benefits that come with detox.
- Psychological symptoms: Anxiety, agitation, insomnia
- Opioid cravings
- Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia
- Tremors, muscle spasms
- Seizures (especially with abrupt discontinuation)
- Sweating, nausea, dizziness
Stimulants (Cocaine, Methamphetamine):
- Fatigue, increased appetite, disturbed sleep
- Depression, irritability, mood swings
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Intensive drug cravings
- Irritability, mood swings
- Insomnia or disturbed sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability, mood swings
- Intensive nicotine cravings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Flashbacks or hallucinations (in the case of substances like LSD or psilocybin)
- Anxiety, mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
Professional detox programs, such as Cumberland Heights, are designed to manage these symptoms safely with medical interventions, when necessary. Seeking medical guidance and support during detox is essential in ensuring a smoother transition toward sobriety and reducing the risk of complications.
8 BENEFITS OF DETOXING
Now that we’ve covered some of the more difficult aspects of detoxing, let’s look at some of the benefits. Detoxing would not be the first step in the recovery process if it weren’t for the many benefits that come along with and after detoxification.
Detoxing in a supervised medical setting ensures safety of the patient during withdrawal, as healthcare professionals can monitor and manage potential complications, preventing life-threatening situations. This structured environment provides immediate access to medical interventions, making the detox process safer and more comfortable for the person seeking recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Improved Physical Health
It should come as no surprise that ridding your system of toxic substances can improve your health and overall quality of life. Detox is what enables the body to rid itself of harmful substances, promoting improved organ function and overall physical health. This process, done under medical supervision, addresses any medical complications that may arise and ensures a smoother transition to a substance-free state, thus laying the foundation for a healthier lifestyle.
Abstaining from drugs and alcohol allows the mind to regain clarity and focus, enhancing cognitive abilities. Individuals completing detox often experience a reduction in “brain fog,” supporting better concentration, memory, and decision-making skills.
Detox contributes to emotional stability by alleviating mood swings, anxiety, and depression associated with substance abuse. As the body adjusts to the absence of substances, individuals experience a more balanced emotional state, and better emotional regulation as a result.
Going through detox can lead to a reduction in the body’s tolerance to drugs or alcohol. This makes it easier for individuals to abstain from use, breaking the cycle of dependence and promoting long-term recovery.
Successfully completing detox serves as a powerful motivator for individuals to continue with on-going treatment. This accomplishment instills confidence and determination, reinforcing their commitment to addressing the root causes of addiction through therapy and counseling.
Many individuals experience improved sleep patterns post-detox as withdrawal symptoms that disrupt sleep diminish. Regular sleep cycles contribute to overall well-being, promoting alertness, mood stability, and vitality during the recovery process.
Social and Interpersonal Benefits
Detox gives individuals the opportunity to rebuild relationships with family and friends that may have suffered along the way. The absence of substance use allows for more meaningful social interactions, fostering connections that may have been strained by addiction. As individuals regain control over their lives, they can actively participate in social activities, contributing to a more fulfilling social environment.
5 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT DETOX
Let’s face the facts – detox gets a bad rap. Understandably so, based on the symptoms of withdrawal. We get it! But there are many false beliefs about the detoxification we need to dispel. Before you or someone you love experiences detox, let’s make sure you know what’s not true about detox.
Myth #1: Detox is a One-Time Event
While detoxification is often the initial step in addiction treatment, it is not a stand-alone solution. Successful recovery often requires on-going therapy, counseling, and support to address underlying issues and prevent relapse.
Myth #2: Detox Can Be Done Alone at Home
Detoxing from certain substances can be dangerous and may require medical supervision. Professional detox programs, such as Cumberland Heights, provide medical monitoring, support, and interventions to manage withdrawal symptoms safely and effectively.
Myth #3: Detox Guarantees Sobriety
While detox is an important part of recovery from addiction, it is only the beginning of the recovery journey. Long-term success depends on addressing psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of addiction through counseling, therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Myth #4: Detox is Always Painful
While withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, not everyone experiences severe pain during detox. The intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms vary based on faces such as the substance, dosage, and individual differences.
Myth #5: Detox Flushes All Toxins from the Body
While detox specifically addresses the elimination of the substance causing dependence, it doesn’t necessarily remove all toxins from the body. A healthy lifestyle, including a focus on proper nutrition and exercise, is crucial for overall well-being post-detox.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A DETOX
Exploring the phases of detox and understanding the physiological changes that occur within the body during this process provides insight into the complexity of addiction recovery. Let’s take a look at what a person going through detox will experience.
The first phase of detox involves a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s physical and mental health. Healthcare professionals assess the type and amount of substances used, co-occurring medical or mental health conditions, and other factors influencing the detox process. This evaluation helps in developing a tailored detox plan that addresses the specific needs of the individual.
Once the evaluation is complete, next comes the stabilization phase. This involves helping the individual achieve a stable state, both physically and mentally. In some cases, medication may be administered to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medical supervision is crucial during this phase to monitor vital signs and intervene if any complications arise. Emotional support and counseling may also be provided to address the psychological aspects of withdrawal.
As previously mentioned, withdrawal is a natural and inevitable part of the detox process. It occurs as the body adapts to the absence of the substance it has come to depend on. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms vary based on the substance and individual factors. Common withdrawal symptoms include nausea, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, and in some cases, seizures. The medical team closely monitors these symptoms and provides appropriate interventions to ensure the safety and comfort of the individual undergoing detox.
Throughout these phases, the body undergoes significant changes. Detoxification primarily involves the liver metabolizing and eliminating toxins from the bloodstream. The nervous system, gastrointestinal system, and cardiovascular system may all be affected during detox, manifesting in various physical and psychological symptoms, which makes it vital that you experience detox in a professional setting, such as Cumberland Heights.
HOW LONG DOES DETOX LAST?
The time it takes to fully detox from drugs or alcohol varies based on the substance(s) used, how heavy usage was, medical history, age, and the presence of co-occurring health problems. Detox programs typically last for 3, 5, or 7 days depending on the patient’s needs.
CAN I DETOX ON MY OWN?
Choosing to detox at home can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Like many things, quitting “cold turkey” or without medical supervision can lead to serious side effects such as seizures or severe dehydration.
NEXT STEPS AFTER A DETOX
It is important to note that detoxification alone is often insufficient for achieving sustained recovery from drugs or alcohol. At Cumberland Heights, we begin to integrate you into your recovery community as soon as you feel well enough to participate. That means you may be joining group while still in detox. We also assign you a buddy that will welcome you into the program and make sure you know what to expect in the coming days.
We are dedicated to making the transition from detox to treatment as smooth and comfortable as possible so that continued healing can occur. Inpatient treatment is usually 30 days and includes therapy, family education, and 12-Step involvement.
After a patient’s time in inpatient treatment, we offer several continuum of care services including outpatient services, recovery care advocacy, alumni activities, aftercare, and more. Each person’s treatment plan will vary based on their case manager’s recommendations.
DETOX AT CUMBERLAND HEIGHTS
Cumberland Heights is proud to offer medically supervised detoxification services on our main campus to those struggling with the disease of addiction. Our highly trained team members provide proven treatment to those suffering with substance us disorder and experiencing withdrawal. During the early days of detox, patients receive personal, round-the-clock care from our nursing staff.
Our detoxification program takes place on our beautiful 177-acre campus on River Road, where patients can benefit from home-like accommodations and meals during their stay. Residents also have the advantage of benefitting from each level of care in one convenient location.
Detox doesn’t have to be scary, Cumberland Heights has created a program that provides safe, comfortable care to those beginning their journey to recovery. To learn more about our detox program and treatment at Cumberland Heights, visit here or call (866) 698-5078.