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Drug and Alcohol Medical Detox – The Right and Wrong Way

‌Medical detox is the first step towards sobriety. And it can be a dangerous, life-threatening procedure, especially if the addict is medically unsupervised. Unfortunately, many people decide to take things into their hands and take on the burden of the detox process alone.

medical detox first step

They decide against medical advice and leave the option of seeking medical help only in case something goes wrong, without realizing how dangerous detoxification is. In this article, you will find advice on the right and wrong choices that you can make when deciding whether to go through detox. This article also includes some practical questions you should ask when considering detox.

What is medical detox?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. Although detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strong precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.”

The goal of detoxification is to relieve the body of the physical dependence of substances such as drugs or alcohol. Once the addict stops using such substances, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms. Those symptoms can be life-threatening if the person is not medically supervised. 

medical detox dependency

Medical detox is an overwhelming process. Especially in long-term substance abuse. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations, sweating, shivering, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the substance the addict is using.

Detoxification can be done inpatient, in a treatment center where the patient continues the rehab process, outpatient – which is a less expensive alternative – where the patient visits the treatment center for the process of detoxification and then continues the aftercare at home. Outpatient detoxification is recommended only for people that a physician evaluated as a low-risk group of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

The Wrong Way – Medical Detox at Home

Many things can go wrong if the person tries home, medically unsupervised detoxification. Since this is a common mistake, the chances of success are very low. Usually, the addict is not able to cope with the pain of withdrawal symptoms and gets back to the addiction. Not to mention the danger behind the intensity of withdrawal symptoms that could be lethal. Going to the nearby hospital at the very last minute might be too late.

The Right Way – Medical Detox at a Licensed Treatment Facility

medical detox bed

For a successful detox and complete recovery – without endangering your health – please visit a medical center and don’t risk your life. Being supervised by professional medical staff will lower the fear of detox and make you feel safe.

The Wrong Way – Choosing ANY Facility for Detox

Medical or addiction facilities vary when it comes to the detox protocol. Some of them use a standard medical protocol, without taking into consideration the history and patient’s dependence type. Therefore, not every facility is suitable for every kind of addiction.

The Right Way – Choosing A Specialized Facility

There are a few things to consider when choosing a detox facility. One of them is choosing the facility that treats your type of addiction. For every kind of addition, each facility has a particular medication and evaluation plan. Especially for opiate or alcohol addiction whose withdrawal symptoms are painful and life-threatening. So, you should avoid going to a facility that is unfamiliar with your type of dependency.

The Wrong Way – “One Size Fits All” Treatment Program

It is a common mistake for treatment centers to use the same medical protocol for every person and every type of addiction. For a successful, safe medical detox every person should be considered as an individual case. Without evaluation and a plan, the addict won’t get the care they need.

The Right Way – Individualized Detox Plan

medical detox

An individualized detox program bases on the addict’s body – height, age, weight or gender – metabolism and other circumstances. The plan needs to include proper nutrition and hydration and should be based on previous assessment and evaluation. If the facility you enter does not evaluate your condition, or run necessary tests, it is an enormous red flag for that center.

To avoid going into the wrong facility, ask these questions:

  1. Will you undergo medical assessment? What tests the center conducts and what information do they get from them?
  2. How will the test results and the evaluation help them create their tailor-made detox plan? Do they even consider the establishment of a tailor-made detox program?
  3. How will their approach towards you differ from the approach to other patients? Are there any successful stories and testimonials from former addicts that will witness their detox approach?

The Wrong Way – Improper Aftercare

medical detox sad

Since detoxification is the first step towards sobriety, an individualized aftercare program is essential. Improper aftercare won’t ease the patient’s withdrawal symptoms and help with healing.

The Right Way – Tailor-made Program for Faster Healing

In the individualized plan for medical detox, the facility should include an aftercare plan. That includes a nutritional and supplement program that will help you heal faster. Your body won’t recover without care.

So, you should ask the facility if they include a tailor made aftercare program, or offer a holistic approach. Also, what is their proper nutrition and hydration plan. For example, is their food organic or supplement rich? Do they offer some alternative approaches such as acupuncture and massages?

The Wrong Way – Use of Strong Medication

In practice, facilities use medication to help the patients handle the withdrawal symptoms. However, it is better not to use strong drugs because of their addicting effect, which might cause a switch from one addiction to another.

The Right Way – Minimal Medication Use

medical detox medication

The goal of detox is to get the person’s body clean from the addictive substances. If the medical team uses other strong medications, it will cause a switch from one drug to another. Therefore, a holistic approach with minimal or non-medication use is the better alternative. Consider visiting a facility that utilizes a holistic approach to recovery.

Other things to consider:

  1. Location and setting – detox is an uncomfortable and painful process. You will need peace and quiet. So, choose a suitable, relaxing facility that is far from busy places. Also, it is important to stay in a quiet room – possibly a private one – so that you can deal with only your personal detox procedure, without experiencing the inconvenience of your roommates’ detox symptoms.
  2. Medical supervision – don’t assume that there will be a 24/7 medical supervision. It is good to be informed about this because you might get in a situation when you’ll need to talk to someone or even worse – you’ll need medical assistance – and there won’t be anyone available during late hours.
  3. Be honest – while filling the papers or answering any questions you might not be comfortable answering, honesty is crucial. Some of the tests and evaluations might show additional – whether mental or physical – health problems. However, you don’t want the risk of getting health complications as a result of hiding valuable information.

For more information please call our Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a Free and completely confidential call. We are available 24/7. In many cases, your health insurance company will cover 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now.

 

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