Detoxing from drugs and alcohol requires support and guidance. It is not something that should be undertaken alone. Skilled and compassionate professionals are essential in guiding an addict through the process and reducing the chances of relapse. Selecting the right program that provides personalized treatment and a high standard of care is critical for success.

Taking the First Step

Intake kicks off the admission process at any detox program. During this assessment period, a medical professional will meet with the client to determine the level of addiction as well as the health issues that need to be addressed. This is the most important part of the process because it lays the groundwork for a personalized plan for treatment. It is also a vital step in creating a trusting relationship between the clinical staff and the patient.

The intake process clearly delineates the rules and expectations of the program. The medical staff will explain the process of detoxing and what challenges the patient will face. They will explain how they will safely treat the addiction and what resources will be provided to deal with mental and physical challenges. The intake process should serve to put the patient’s mind at ease and reinforce that he or she is receiving the best care possible.

Detoxing From Addictive Substances

A drug detox program focuses on stopping the cycle of abuse of addictive drugs. These can include substances such as cocaine, opioids, and meth. Oftentimes those that seek out these programs are repeat offenders. They’ve sought treatment in the past but due to the addictive nature of drugs, they haven’t had success quitting. Because these substances are so powerful, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. A supervised program is critical in order to medically deal with withdrawal symptoms and get the addict on the right track.

Many programs will emphasize the treatment of withdrawal symptoms as soon as the patient is admitted. For many drug users, these symptoms can begin very quickly after their last exposure to drugs. Because of this, effective programs focus on making patients as comfortable as possible to deal with the most common issues recovering addicts face, such as:

  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Stomach issues
  • Fatigue

Detoxing From Alcohol

Alcohol detox can be more difficult to treat because the effects of withdrawal can be deadly. During intake, the clinical staff will assess the level of alcoholism to determine the severity and what treatment path will be most effective. Professionals should be focused on keeping the patient comfortable during this process.

The most serious symptom of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens. This can start between two and five days after a patient has had his or her last drink. Delirium tremens can lead to confusion, hallucinations and severe trembling. If not treated, it can be fatal. Often sedatives are administered to treat this symptom. Other debilitating symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Once patients have cleared their system from all drugs and alcohol, the real healing can begin. With a restored body and a clear mind, a recovering addict will benefit from therapy to identify the underlying cause of addiction. Ongoing counseling will be essential in setting future boundaries and staying on the path of clean living.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "The Path to Recovery Starts With Detox," in Medicalopedia, October 23, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9342/the-path-to-recovery-starts-with-detox/].