Is Medical Detox Necessary Before Addiction Treatment?

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Medical detoxification is an important part of the recovery process, and should be implemented before the intensive addiction treatment begins. The majority of inpatient treatment facilities will expect potential patients to enter detoxification prior to being admitted. Detoxification simply means that the addict must have the drugs totally cleaned out of their system before they continue with the proper addiction treatment process.

Why Medical Detox is Used

There are a number of reasons why medical detox is necessary before one can receive addiction treatment. For one, it is challenging to concentrate on recovering at the same time an addict is being detoxified. During detoxification addicts will often experience withdrawal symptoms which will make it extremely difficult for them to take part in daily treatment activities. Another reason is safety. Drug treatment facilities first and foremost must protect their patients and staff. Admitting an addict into the center that is detoxifying puts both them and everyone in the facility at risk.

How does Detox Work?

The detoxification procedure will vary from one person to another, and will depend in part on the type of drugs that are in the addict’s system. Additional factors include the length of time the addict has been using the drug, the amount they consumed daily, and their physical statistics such as gender, age, weight and chemistry. For the majority of addicts, detoxification is not pleasant. They will experience both intense cravings and frequent mood swings.

Detoxification works by cleaning the drugs out of a patient’s system. Once the patient has been evaluated, they will be given medications which will assist in this process. They will also be monitored to ensure they don’t have any complications and that they are both hydrated and as comfortable as possible. However, some addicts attempt to perform detox at home, rather than in a facility suited to the purpose.

Home Detox vs. Medical Detox

Addicts often attempt detoxification at home for the same reasons they try to quit cold turkey: because either they feel they don’t have the money to pay for professional services, or they believe they can become addiction free by themselves.

While this is certainly appealing, it rarely works. In fact, it can actually be dangerous. Addicts undergoing detox need to be monitored by a professional, because if there are drugs available at home the addict may be tempted to begin using them once the withdrawal symptoms set in. If the withdrawal is strong enough, an addict may not be able to clean, feed or hydrate themselves.

Why Treatment is Still Needed after Detoxification

Other patients feel that once their detoxification is complete, they are good to go, with no need for additional treatment. This is far from the case. While detox will rid your body of the drugs, the dependency is a separate matter entirely. This is because drug addiction is both physiological and psychological. Unless you overcome the psychological aspect of your addiction, the battle is only half won, and you will likely resume using the drug in the future. It is for this reason that addicts who have successfully completed detox should follow up with the proper addiction treatment program.