Addiction recovery is a long and difficult road, and for the majority of individuals, it begins with detoxification. Detoxing from drugs or alcohol is frequently seen as a medical-related process that must be addressed medically. Yet this approach can be easily misunderstood. Choosing the wrong treatment technique can have major ramifications for an addict’s health and rehabilitation. Hence, it is more complicated than commonly advertised. There is no one-size-fits-all detoxification approach to all forms of addiction. Hence, this guide gives a high-level analysis of the medical detox process. It aims to give you a full and accurate picture of what a typical medical detox includes and how it aids a patient’s therapy.
Before delving in, what exactly is addiction?
Introduction to addiction
For those who are unfamiliar with the term addiction, it is a medical condition that involves a habit-forming process. Drugs or alcohol become a habitual part of a person’s life, leading to physical, emotional, and social dependence on the substance. This complex disorder affects the individual’s ability to interact logically, emotionally, and socially.
Addiction also impacts one’s physical capacity to accomplish everyday duties like driving a car, managing finances, or even going to school or working in a regular setting. The addict may seek external aid or guidance to do the aforementioned responsibilities. Medical detoxification is only part of the solution for getting over addiction.
Where does medical detox fit in?
Alcohol and drugs are known to cause the build-up of toxins in the body. The accumulation of these harmful chemicals and substances inside the body is what causes health problems like liver damage, heart problems, and even organ damage.
For example, the use of drugs like opiates and heroin impacts the central nervous system and can lead to brain damage. Alcohol can be more damaging to the liver. This is why a medical detox can be extremely important in the addiction recovery process.
The process of being physically and medically detoxed helps to clear the toxins out of the body and flush the system. It aids in the recovery process. The treatment phase is not without withdrawal symptoms that may include:
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
- Major depressive disorder
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heart arrhythmia
The detox process, which takes place at a rehab center, helps to stabilize the patient’s condition before the rehabilitation phase begins. Going cold turkey without medical supervision can be risky and even life-threatening. Although medical detoxification will not eliminate the above-mentioned symptoms, it will lessen their intensity and create a stable environment in which to recuperate.
What does the medical detox process entail?
On the path to recovery, a patient first undergoes detoxification which comprises of three phases. The first stage is evaluation, followed by stabilization, and then preparation for rehabilitation.
The evaluation phase
The goal of this phase is to determine the patient’s progress and determine any health issues. During this stage, the patient will undergo a series of tests, alongside a questionnaire, to ascertain the need for medical intervention.
There is also the need to fill out a questionnaire. The tests may include:
- Blood tests to assess liver and kidney function
- Urine test to assess drug use
- Blood pressure
- Chest X-Ray
- Heart rate
Any abnormality detected will require further medical attention. For instance, a patient may have elevated blood pressure or heart rate.
If the patient has a history of heart disease or a heart problem, a doctor may need to perform additional tests to determine the severity of the condition. These tests will be discussed during a medical consultation with the doctor.
The patient will also undergo a psychological assessment which will help to determine how to proceed in the treatment process. This process will focus on how to help the patient stay clear of substance use and the potential triggers that may lead to relapse. The patient will also need to identify top problematic triggers.
The stabilization phase of medical detox
Once the detox process is completed, a patient enters the stabilization phase. At this point, the patient no longer engages in substance abuse.
This phase involves teaching the patient how to live life without addictive substances, as well as providing them with medical supervision. The goal of the stabilization process is to prevent the withdrawal symptoms from becoming intense and to minimize health risks associated with detoxification.
The patient will need to learn to deal with withdrawal symptoms to prevent relapses and possible hospitalization. There will be a focus on nutrition, stress management, sleep hygiene, hydration, and relaxation. The treatment plan will aim to keep the patient as healthy as possible to recover quickly and be a safe candidate for rehabilitation.
The preparation phase
The preparation stage takes place once the patient is medically stable and ready to proceed with therapy. There is a focus on physical and psychological therapies, as well as any other treatment the patient needs.
There will also be a focus on preparing the patient for the lifestyle changes that will come into play after the rehab process. The treatment techniques will include:
- Individual and group therapy
- Relapse prevention education
- Family or group-based support groups, or both
- Occupational therapy
- Therapeutic interventions
- Exercise program and nutritional counseling
- Faith-based programs or religious counseling (if possible)
While these therapies and techniques are beneficial, the ultimate goal is to get the patient to live in a completely clean environment. This means quitting all forms of addiction and substance abuse.
After all, substance abuse takes up a tremendous amount of the patient’s time and money. It is vital to learn how to live without using substances and to break this dependency cycle.
Summary on medical detox
Detoxification is not easy for anyone. A medical detox procedure usually takes a minimum of three to seven days. It should always be a joint effort between a patient, the doctor, and other clinical staff members.
During this process, the patient will be under medical supervision as the medical team monitors any changes or irregularities in physical and mental health. The detox program prevents additional damage to the patient’s health and creates a safe and healthy environment to prepare for future treatment.