What You Can Expect During Detox
According to a study published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, close to 17% of the country’s population met the criteria for receiving a substance use disorder diagnosis for drugs or alcohol.
With so many people experiencing an issue with drugs or alcohol, chances are you know someone whose life has been negatively impacted by their use of these substances. Or maybe you have concerns about your own use of drugs or alcohol.
If you are worried about your substance use, it is most likely because you have started to have consequences related to your use. Drinking or using drugs may interfere with your relationships, cause health problems, or impact your success at school or work.
With your willingness to strive for a sober lifestyle and today’s advanced treatment practices, you can create the life you’ve always wanted instead of one centered around drugs and alcohol. If you’re ready to start a detox program, use this guide to help you understand what to expect before, during, and after detox.
What Is a Substance Use Disorder?
It used to be common practice to say that people were substance abusers and to label that person an addict or alcoholic. The term “abuse,” though, often results in an unfavorable perception of a person or oneself because it is generally associated with things like child abuse and spousal abuse. In 2013, the terminology changed from substance abuse disorder to substance use disorder.
This change in language moving away from using the term “abuse” also changed how individuals talk about people with substance use disorders. They realized that people were not just “addicts” or “alcoholics.” They are unique human beings who happen to be going through hard times and are worthy of respect. They are a person with a disorder that negatively affects their life.
When someone suffers from substance use disorder, it means the person drinks alcohol or uses drugs in a way that impairs his or her daily life or causes noticeable distress regularly. A person with a substance use issue will often exhibit clear patterns of harmful alcohol or drug use, making it possible for professionals to make a diagnosis. These patterns normally weave their way through the person’s family life, career, and relationships with friends. Their substance use also usually interferes with the things that they used to love to do.
Fear of Withdrawal Symptoms
If you suffer from a substance use disorder, you may have tried to quit drinking or taking drugs in the past. Withdrawal symptoms are highly unpleasant. Unfortunately, fear of these symptoms can be a barrier to seeking treatment. During a medical detox, professionals strive to make the detox experience as comfortable as possible.
What Does It Mean to Detox?
Detox is short for detoxification, which is a process that involves the body eliminating itself of toxins and harmful substances like drugs and alcohol. Before substance use disorder treatment can begin, a person must stop using drugs or alcohol, which sends the body into the detox and withdrawal processes.
Why Choose a Medical Detox
Medical detox is healthier and more comfortable for a person who is striving to live an alcohol and drug-free life. When you enter a rehab center, professionals will monitor your health throughout the detox process. The team’s goal is to address any medical issues that arise and to keep you as comfortable as possible during this stage of treatment. In addition, treatment centers provide emotional support and counseling during detox to address emotional distress, offer coping strategies, and help prepare individuals for ongoing treatment.
Detox Phase I: Assessment
Detox differs for everyone because no two people’s addictions are the same. Generally, detox begins with an assessment performed by a substance use specialist who screens you for mental health disorders, physical impairments, and substance use history.
It’s very important to be completely honest and thorough during the assessment. The more information you provide about your life, including your relationships with family, your drug and alcohol use, your mental health issues, and your past treatment efforts, the better the substance use specialist can treat you.
Detox Phase II: Stabilization
During the stabilization phase, professionals will assist you through the emotional and medical distress you may experience as your body rids itself of drugs or alcohol. This process can include the use of medications to reduce acute withdrawal symptoms. Professionals will also talk to you about what to expect during later steps in treatment. They will also discuss the importance of your role in your treatment and recovery. Finally, they will consult with you about how your family or other significant others may be involved in your treatment plan.
Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect During Detox
The withdrawal symptoms you will endure during detox depend on the substances you used, the amount you used, and how long you used them. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Frequent mood changes
- Stomach aches
If you enter detox because of alcohol use, you can expect mild withdrawal symptoms to begin about six to 12 hours after your last drink. These symptoms will likely include nausea, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia.
More severe symptoms will set in after about 12 to 24 hours, including confusion, increased body temperature, an unstable heart rate, and possibly hallucinations. Clients detoxing from alcohol may experience seizures 24 to 48 hours after their last drink. After 48 to 72 hours, some people also begin experiencing delirium tremens. Though it only occurs in 5% of people detoxing, delirium tremens is a severe withdrawal symptom. It can cause heart attacks, strokes, and even death if not treated.
If you enter detox because of drugs, the timeline for withdrawal symptoms varies greatly depending on the substance. Acute Cocaine withdrawal can occur as soon as 90 minutes after the last use. Alternatively, methadone is long-acting, and withdrawal symptoms do not usually begin until two to four days after a client’s last dose. If you were a benzodiazepines user, you might experience severe seizures, making it all the more important to choose a medical detox.
Detox Phase III: Treatment Plan
The last phase of detox occurs after you feel a little better. Based on your assessment and conversations with professionals during detox, a staff member may have recommendations for your next steps. They will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan.
Types of programs
There are many types of drug and alcohol treatment programs you can enter after detox. They include inpatient care, intensive outpatient options, and outpatient programs.
With inpatient care, you will reside in a treatment facility for 15 days to six months or longer. The benefit of this option is that it provides you with 24-hour supervision, significantly reducing your likelihood of relapse. This type of program may also be a good choice if you have serious medical issues related to your substance use. For example, people with alcoholic liver disease could face serious health issues if they relapse. An inpatient program offers a structured environment where a client’s health is monitored regularly.
During intensive outpatient options, you will reside at home while attending group therapy and one-on-one counseling sessions at least once a day, most days a week. This option allows you to receive in-depth treatment without residing at the treatment facility. This option may be a choice for people with family and work obligations. However, because you are not under 24-hour supervision, all outpatient programs increase the risk of relapse.
During outpatient programs, you will reside at home while attending sessions at least once weekly at the treatment center. This option may work for people who have only had issues with drugs or alcohol for a short time period. This type of program may also be a good choice if you have supportive family members and a strong support network outside of your household. Most treatment centers offer the flexibility to transition to an intensive outpatient or inpatient program if an outpatient option does not provide enough structure to support your recovery.
Types of Therapy During Treatment
Whether you reside at the treatment center or at home, you will engage in several types of therapy. Since everyone’s recovery is unique, your treatment team will work with you to find what works best for you. You and your team will review your treatment plan regularly, which is flexible. Your course of treatment may change as you clarify your goals or if something comes up during therapy that you are interested in taking more time to deal with.
One-on-one therapy is essential to recovery because it provides a confidential space to air any concerns impacting your recovery. At most treatment programs, you will attend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions. CBT concentrates on recognizing and changing negative thoughts and behaviors that may have contributed to developing an issue with drugs or alcohol.
You will participate in sessions with other clients facing similar challenges during group therapy. Group members can provide support and encouragement. These sessions also can help you feel less alone in your recovery process. In addition, they are opportunities to work with others to brainstorm recovery tactics and how to deal with setbacks.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) allows you to complete your treatment program while taking prescribed medications that improve your chances of a successful recovery. MAT options come in both inpatient and outpatient formats, allowing you to choose an option that best fits your lifestyle.
Family therapy allows you and your family members or significant others to improve communication and address negative dynamics. During these sessions, your family and other loved ones will learn how they can best support your recovery. They may also serve to help you feel more comfortable asking for support when you need it. It is worth noting that most treatment centers educate your family about substance use disorders before these therapy sessions. This allows your loved ones to understand better what may have been behind some of your negative behaviors in the past.
Are You Ready to Start Detox?
If you’re ready to detox and develop a lifestyle that doesn’t include the use of drugs and alcohol, contact the Charles River Recovery today. We have onsite medical professionals waiting to help you begin your treatment process. After detox, our treatment services are focused on your evolving physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as you take your first steps on your recovery journey.