Detox is short for detoxification and is a process through which toxins, such as those found in drugs and alcohol are removed from the body. What is important to keep in mind is that a detox on its own is not a complete treatment for those struggling with addiction. This is why detox clinics are vital in any sort of recovery.
This part of the recovery process is designed to rid the body of the substance on which the patient is dependant so that further treatment can commence. When you have high levels of drugs or alcohol in your system, the physical effects of these can make therapy difficult, removing them will ensure a much more effective result.
What Are Detox Clinics?
Detox clinics are specially designed facility where you can undergo your detox in comfort and safety. Within these clinics, you will have access to a medical team that is made up of doctors and addiction specialists amongst others who will be available to support you through the process. Whilst undergoing a detox you will be given care around the clock in an environment that is relaxed and secure.
After completing your detox there will be many amenities at your disposal. These amenities may include fitness rooms such as gymnasiums, gardens, and outdoor space and spas. There are many alcohol detox clinics all over the country offering services like these.
What Can I Expect From Drug And Alcohol Detox Clinics?
When you first make the decision to take part in a drug or alcohol detox, it can feel as though you are walking blindly into a situation that you have no idea what to expect from. By being prepared for what is going to happen, the process is likely to be much less intimidating.
This type of treatment is very intensive and requires all of yours and the team’s efforts to aid you in recovering from your addiction. You can expect your treatment to be made up of several components, each designed to tackle a different area of the problem.
You will be assessed by the team who will be working with you to determine what the best approach is for you; detox and rehab tend to be tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient. You will then be placed under 24-hour observation for the detox process, during which you will be offered various ways of coping including through the use of prescribed medications to help combat withdrawal symptoms.
After the initial detox period, you will move onto the rehabilitation portion of the treatment in which you will be offered various types of therapy to deal with the psychological aspects of addiction as well as help with your diet and general well-being.
What Is The Detox Process?
The process of the detox must begin with your understanding of what is about to happen. When you arrive at your chosen facility, you can expect that your bags will be checked to ensure that you have no substances on your person that may be detrimental to your recovery. You should also be prepared to talk about the last time you used the substance as this will help the staff to ensure you are offered the correct medication for your withdrawal, should you need it.
Additionally, you will need to be prepared to be honest about your addiction and substance use because the staff will ask you a lot of questions as a way of understanding your needs. This is not a process designed to embarrass or belittle you, this is important to make sure that you get the right treatment. You may also be required to submit to drug testing.
You should also be prepared to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during the detox process and whilst this is completely normal as your body readjusts to life without the substance, it can be very difficult to manage.
However, there are options for medication to get you through this difficult time. You may also be offered the use of alternative treatments such as exercise and spiritual activities as a way of helping you through the detox.
Below we discuss in more detail the detox process from specific substances:
1. Detoxing From Alcohol
If you have struggled with alcohol, you can expect the detox process to begin from around eight hours from the time you took your last drink. You may then go on to experience withdrawal symptoms for a period of up to two weeks.
2. Detoxing From Stimulants
Withdrawal from stimulants can be quite severe and can include insomnia, anxiety, and sweating amongst other things. You can expect these symptoms to begin within a few hours of your last dose and can last for months in some severe cases, but for the most part, tend to peak at around seven days after the last dose.
3. Detoxing From Opiates
To successfully detox from opiates, medication is usually required. Withdrawal will usually begin within 24 hours of the last dose and depending on the severity of the use will depend on how severe the withdrawal symptoms are.
After the initial acute withdrawal period, some patients can continue to experience symptoms for up to six months.
4. Detoxing From Prescription Drugs
Coming off prescription drugs can bring on symptoms similar to those experienced when detoxing the body from alcohol. It is vital that this process is overseen in a medical facility to ensure that no serious health complications are experienced.
5. Detoxing From Sedatives
The detox process of sedative drugs happens in three stages, the first being minor and becoming gradually worse. Symptoms can include tremors, vomiting, and hallucinations. For this reason, it is vital that medical supervision is given during the detox process.
Stopping these types of drugs suddenly can have a serious adverse effect and so in some instances, the drugs need to be gradually removed.
What Are The Benefits Of A Medical Detox?
One of the main benefits of undergoing a medical detox is that you stand a much higher chance of being successful in your efforts. However, more importantly, detoxing from any drug or alcohol can be potentially life-threatening so having a medical team on hand and medication available will mean that the process is done in a much safer manner.
When taking part in this type of detox, your carers will ensure that you are comfortable and well looked after at all times which will further increase your chances of success. What’s more, you will also have access to a variety of support such as talking therapies to ensure that the underlying issues surrounding your addiction are dealt with.
Taking medication during your detox can greatly relieve your withdrawal symptoms. One of the most common reasons that people relapse during the detox phase is that they cannot cope with the pain of the withdrawal and using once again seems the only way to improve how they feel. Medication can remove this temptation.
Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox
You can expect to experience several withdrawal symptoms whilst undergoing a detox, and whilst these are unpleasant, they can be managed and will not last forever. Depending on the type of drug you have been using will have a bearing on the withdrawal symptoms you might experience.
Some of the most common symptoms may be as follows:
- Anxiety and depression
- Trouble sleeping
- Poor memory
- Lack of focus and concentration
- Headaches and dizziness
- Trouble breathing/chest pain
- Heart palpitations.
- Nausea/vomiting/stomach aches
- Tingling sensations on the skin
- Tremors/muscle spasms
If you are recovering from heroin addiction, you may also experience flu-like symptoms for the first few days of detox. In some severe cases, patients detoxing from benzodiazepines may experience seizures.
Withdrawing from alcohol can bring a set of symptoms all of its own. It is important to know what to expect when beginning the detox process. You are likely to have a combination of both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when quitting alcohol, one of the most commonly recognised might be shaking and sweating. But aside from this, you may notice any of the following:
There are possible side effects of coming off alcohol which may be more severe such as hallucinations, but it important to remember that this only affects around 5% off patients. More serious withdrawal symptoms may also include confusion, increased heart rate, and a fever.
Shortly after taking your final dose of an opiate-based drug, you will begin to notice the first withdrawal symptoms coming on as the detox process sets in. These can range from quite mild to very severe depending on the individual.
Your general health will play a part in how severely you experience withdrawal as well as how frequently and for how long you have used the drugs. You might experience any of the following symptoms when coming off opiates:
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilation of the pupils
- Changes in blood pressure
- Muscle spasm
Medications Used At Detox Clinics
There is a range of medications that can be used during the detox process to lessen withdrawal and make the process more comfortable for the patient. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they can result in death and so a medically assisted detox can be the difference between life and death.
Depending on the substance you are detoxing from will heavily depend on the type of medication you are offered. If you are coming off alcohol you may be offered anti-sickness tablets or medication to prevent convulsions as well as possible anti-depressants. You may also be offered any of the following:
For drugs in the opioid category, there is a different selection of medications that may be used during the detoxification process and different detox clinics may offer different options. The most common medications used to help with opioid withdrawal are methadone and buprenorphine.
Aside from these drugs, you may also be offered supplements to replace lost nutrients and vitamins and to keep your general health at an optimal level.
How Long Does Detox Last?
Detoxing from a substance such as drugs or alcohol can take varying lengths of time and each case is unique. Your medical history will be taken into account as well as the severity of your substance abuse.
The length of time it takes for all of the traces of substance to leave the body and withdrawal to the end will also depend on your age and gender. Most people are successful in detoxing after one week, although you may continue to experience withdrawal symptoms for many months after the initial detox is complete.
With this in mind, detox programmes are usually offered for either 3, 5, or 7 days and this is usually the first part of a much lengthier treatment programme in which the underlying issues of the patient’s addiction will be addressed.
Do I Need To Go To An Inpatient Detox Clinic?
When assessing your situation and making a decision on whether you need to attend a rehab facility, it is important to be honest about your current difficulties. This begins by admitting that you have a problem, no matter how small you may think it to be.
It is also important to understand whether you are struggling with addiction or dependence on your preferred substance, and there is a clear distinction between the two despite their associations with one another.
Dependence occurs when the body comes to rely on a substance and without it, withdrawal symptoms are experienced whereas addiction relates more to your inability to control your behaviour.
There are certain things you should consider in making a decision on whether to opt for alcohol or drug detox clinics. Consider the following points:
- Are you experiencing a lack of control?
- Do you want to quit but find that you are not able to?
- Are you experiencing cravings?
- Is your time consumed by trying to acquire the substance?
- Have you lost your sense of responsibility?
- Are your personal relationships being affected?
- Is your work-life being affected?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
- Have you lost interest in other areas of your life?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, rehab may be a realistic solution to your problems.
Holistically Based Detox
Holistic solutions to healthcare are becoming an increasingly popular choice and there are many options for this type of approach when it comes to dealing with detoxing from drugs or alcohol. This type of treatment aims to work with both the mind and the body to achieve effective results and can combine a variety of activities and treatments during detox and rehab.
You may take part in a group therapy session giving you the opportunity to work with people who are going through a similar thing as well as one to one therapy. You may also be offered other activities such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture as a way of complimenting your medical treatment.
Dangers Of Detoxing Alone From Alcohol
Detoxing can be a potentially dangerous thing if it is not done correctly and it is therefore vital that you do not attempt to go through the process alone.
When you drink heavily for a prolonged period of time, your body becomes used to alcohol being present so when it is taken away, the balance within the body is seriously disrupted.
Stopping alcohol cannot cause death but it can bring on some serious health complaints which may lead to death, these could include seizures, delirium tremens, low levels of phosphate in the blood known as hypophosphatemia, and alcoholic ketoacidosis which is as a result of becoming malnourished after drinking.
All of these conditions could stand to be fatal if attempting to detox from alcohol without medical supervision.
How To Prepare For Detox Clinics
Being prepared for what is going to happen during your detox programme will eliminate the need for any surprises as well as getting you ready to begin the programme with confidence.
You should ensure that your body is prepared for the process, taking the last hit of your preferred substance and understanding that withdrawal will begin soon after. That being said, this is not the time to take as much of the substance as possible as a way of saying ‘goodbye’ this may lead to an overdose and could have serious consequences.
You might also want to assess any physical needs you might have such as disabilities. Taking good care of yourself by thinking about your diet and exercise can be invaluable in preparing for detox.
You should also prepare yourself mentally as detoxing will be a difficult time and being mentally prepared can mean greater success. You can also use this time to talk through your concerns with your loved one and set up a good support network for when detox is over.
Importance Of Diet During Detox
Ridding your body of the toxins found in drugs and alcohol is the main purpose of detox but it is also important to ensure that you are putting healthy things into the body at the same time. Eating a healthy diet will give your body the best chance at recovering as it will replace lost nutrients and keep your body strong and resilient.
The substances you have been using can have serious negative effects on the body such as an enzyme deficiency which can lead to your body being unable to break down nutrients as it should. In addition to this, those who are addicted to opiates may find that they are put off food as a result of stomach pain caused by internal damage.
It is therefore extremely important to eat correctly to allow the body to heal itself from this damage. You will also notice that eating a balanced diet will help you feel more mentally stable, therefore making you more easily able to cope with the process you are going through.
How To Choose A Detox Programme
Choosing the right detox clinics is vital in ensuring that you are successful in recovering from your addiction but with so many detox clinics across the country, it can become a confusing process.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a programme is whether it caters to your personal needs, for example, is there access to the right mental health services if you struggle with depression?
It’s no secret that there are costs involved in detox programmes and looking at how financially viable these programmes are will help you in determining what is suitable for you. Even if you are not paying for the programme itself, there are other financial aspects to consider such as taking time off work.
You might also consider doing some research into whether the programme has a good success rate and what qualifications the staff is as well as how experienced they are – after all, they are going to be responsible for your care.
You should also not be afraid to ask as many questions as you feel you need to before selecting your programme, this is your opportunity to ensure that it will be suitable for your circumstances and ensure your success.