Medical detoxification, also known as medical detox, is a critical first step in the process of recovery. Starting a medical detox program can be challenging.
By learning more about medical detoxification, the role of medical detox in securing long-term recovery and identifying the characteristics of a high-quality medical detox program in South Florida, you can find the best program for your needs.
What Is Medical Detox?
During the medical detoxification process, clients cleanse their bodies of drugs and alcohol under the care of medical professionals who help them manage withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal can be merely uncomfortable, or they can be life-threatening, depending on which drug a person regularly used, and for how long the patient used it.
Though it is not always necessary to begin treatment with medical detox, rehab facilities generally do so, since a successful medical detox reduces physical discomfort and promotes safety and commitment to recovery. These efforts can set the tone for a person’s recovery from addiction.
Who Needs Medical Detox?
A person who has been using a drug for an extended time is likely to need medical detox to treat symptoms of withdrawal.
If someone has been taking one of these drugs, they may need detox care:
- Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium)
- Sleep medications (Ambien, Restoril)
- Prescription opioids (fentanyl and related products, oxycodone, OxyContin, hydrocodone, Vicodin, tramadol, buprenorphine products like Suboxone)
- Stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, cocaine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy)
Why Is Medical Detox Necessary?
Even for the most well-supported patients, the process of medical detoxification can be a daunting challenge during a delicate time. Medical detox provides a helpful structure and accountability, as well as modeling from professionals to help navigate complex situations.
The medical detox process provides 24-hour support and serves as an excellent template for a sustained recovery. Research shows that people who complete medical detoxification at the beginning of their recovery efforts have better outcomes than those who do not.
How Does Medical Detox Work?
Medical detox works to cleanse a person’s body of all traces of drugs and alcohol so that they can begin recovery with a new foundation.
Medical detox programs directly address the physical manifestations of drug and alcohol addiction. These consequences include tolerance and dependence. The brain and body are chemically changed when drugs are used regularly. Some of the most significant changes are in chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Two of the most important ones are serotonin and dopamine, which help regulate feelings. Those chemicals surge with the use of certain drugs, creating a feeling of euphoria, or a high.
However, with constant use, drugs have a decreasing influence on neurotransmitters. More of a drug must be taken to experience the same effect. That state is called tolerance. Over time, the body becomes so accustomed to drugs that without it, the body becomes unstable. That state is called dependence. Abruptly stopping the use of a drug while in this state leads to withdrawal.
Expectations During Medical Detox
A medical detox center takes its patients through three phases: evaluation, stabilization and a transition to further treatment.
The evaluation phase involves completing several screening tests, administered by nurses and by a physician, which allows your treatment team to create individualized plans that are designed to meet each person’s unique needs. These tests include drug and alcohol screenings, medical assessments, psychological assessments and co-occurring disorder evaluations.
When the evaluation is finished, medical detox can begin. Though the length of time of medical detoxification is affected by many factors — such as individual body chemistry, type of drug used, length of use and dosage — most medical detox centers expect the process to last five to ten days.
Transition to Further Treatment
Transitioning out of medical detoxification allows clients to begin addressing the psychological factors that led to addiction. Though patients can begin examining their internal psyche during detoxification, the primary goal of medical detox is to address physical symptoms of withdrawal.
For the treatment of any substance use disorder to be successful, both physical and psychological manifestations of the condition must be successfully addressed. Depending on their needs, clients are encouraged to follow detox with a:
- Residential program
- Partial hospitalization program
- Intensive outpatient program
- Traditional outpatient program
The medical professionals in detoxification programs can help in the transition from detox to one of these programs.
Are you struggling with addiction and considering medical detox? Experienced and caring professionals at our facility can help guide you through the process of completing a medical detox program. It will be an excellent first step toward your recovery efforts. Call us today to get the process started.
National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” Published in 2009. Accessed March 28, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says.” Published in February 2016. Accessed March 28, 2019.