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Drug and alcohol detox is the first step for many people struggling with addiction. Because addiction to many drugs comes with a physical dependence, people often experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using that substance. Detoxification under the care of medical professionals manages withdrawal symptoms swiftly and safely, minimizing the risk of relapse. Many then move forward to a personalized addiction treatment plan characterized by traditional, alternative and holistic therapy options.
Detoxification, or detox, is the process of the body naturally ridding a substance in the bloodstream and physically adjusting to its absence. Detox is the first and hardest step in overcoming addiction due to the withdrawal symptoms during this process.
Quitting all drugs that create dependence will lead to detox, but specific mechanisms of each drug will change the withdrawal symptoms someone experiences during detox. These withdrawal symptoms may be psychological or physical in nature — and in most cases, people will experience some degree of both. Detox is always the starting point in recovery, no matter what substance is being used.
Some people would prefer to detox at home. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, and it may be preferable to have the comfort of familiarity as they attempt to navigate this process. Many people have informally attempted detox at home multiple times before considering professional treatment.
Depending on the substance, opting for a self-detox at home is often ineffective and can be dangerous or even deadly. People who have an addiction should generally not detox at home and should always check with a doctor before attempting to detox by themselves.
Some of the higher risks of choosing to detox at home as opposed to detoxing at a professional drug and alcohol rehabilitation center include:
Detoxing from a substance is a crucial part of the recovery journey. It can be a difficult process to go through; however, the brief discomfort of detox is well worth the lifetime of health and freedom that awaits on the other side. It is important to keep in mind that detox is not quick or easy but that the process is ultimately worth it. Having the support of medical professionals can greatly help as you go through this process.
The side effects people experience during detox can vary greatly depending upon the substance. Common side effects of detox include:
People will need to speak with their doctor to get specific information about what side effects they personally are likely to experience based on their health and the substance they have been using.
It is important to remember that the side effects of withdrawal are temporary and will pass as you progress through your detox. These side effects may be more severe if the substance being detoxed from was used for a long period of time or in large quantities. Professional treatment is necessary to avoid health problems or discomfort caused by serious detox side effects.
A bare-bones, short-term detox may provide only the basics — emergency medical care and a place to stay during the most significant withdrawal symptoms. A high-quality drug detox program will offer a range of services and amenities to meet the needs of each person. Depending upon whether or not the person struggles with co-occurring mental health disorders, underlying medical issues and past attempts at detox, services may include:
In addition to helping people avoid the risks of at-home detox, there are a number of benefits for those who begin their treatment journey with professional care. Some of these benefits include:
Though each person’s experience will be unique during detox and addiction treatment, there is a general process that most people will undertake if they choose an acute professional detox program. These include:
Drug and alcohol addiction is taxing both physically and psychologically. Detox is the first step in a much-needed recovery process that will empower people to leave drug and alcohol abuse in the past and begin to build a new life defined by balance and strength.
Learn more about the options available to you and your loved ones in drug rehabilitation when you contact The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake. We are here to help you and your family take the first steps toward a new life.
Hayashida, Motoi. “An Overview of Outpatient and Inpatient Detoxification.” Alcohol Health & Research World. 1998. Accessed June 22, 2023.
Dugdale, David C. “Alcohol withdrawal.” MedlinePlus. January 17, 2021. Accessed June 22, 2023.
Berger, Fred K. “Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus. April 30, 2022. Accessed June 22, 2023.
Gupta, Mohit; Gokarakonda, Srinivasa B.; & Attia, Fibi N. “Withdrawal Syndromes.” StatPearls. April 29, 2023. Accessed June 22, 2023.
The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.
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