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Medical Detox
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Medical Detox
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Medical Detox 2018-07-26T09:50:08+00:00

What is Medical Detox?

Detox, also known as detoxification, is the process of allowing a substance to leave the body while no longer consuming it. It is a difficult but necessary first step in substance abuse treatment. This has to be done before treatment in order for a recovery program to be most effective.

The process of detoxing triggers withdrawal from a substance and that means it can cause some very uncomfortable symptoms. In some cases, such as with specific substances or in people who have been heavy users for a long period of time, detox may even be dangerous. Detox with medical supervision can help make the process safer, more comfortable and more successful.

The Components of Medical Detox

Detoxification is a broad term that refers to any situation in which a person ceases use of a drug or of alcohol and goes through withdrawal symptoms as the substance leaves the body. There are different ways to approach this process, including with medical supervision.

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Medical Detox
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Medical detox involves supervision by physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers to ensure safety, to maximize comfort and minimize withdrawal, and to administer any necessary medications. For instance, some medical programs helping clients detox from opioids may use buprenorphine or methadone as substitutes for stepping down use of drugs and to reduce withdrawal and cravings.1 Other programs may focus only on supervision for safety, or using nutrition and vitamins to minimize discomfort.

In any type of medical detox there should be certain essential components of the process2:

  • An evaluation phase for determining specific details that will impact care, such as type of drugs used, frequency and duration of use, mental health status and physical health
  • Stabilization, which takes up most of the time of detox and involves using what medical treatments or interventions are needed to keep the client as comfortable as possible
  • A final, readiness phase that prepares the client for ongoing treatment through encouragement to enroll in a treatment program and education about the necessity of continuing care after detox

These are the basics that make up a medical detox program, but a good facility will offer clients much more. Extra offerings may include early counseling sessions, support groups, alternative and holistic medicine, nutrition counseling and meal planning, mental health screenings, and a setting and environment that is purposefully calm, compassionate and supportive.

Medical Detox vs. Going it Alone

Some people may be able to detox without medical supervision, but there are risks of doing so. The most common risk is that the process will not be completed. The withdrawal symptoms caused by detox are uncomfortable enough to cause many people to relapse and go back to substance abuse. In some cases, detoxification can actually be dangerous and poses serious health risks.

Alcohol withdrawal is an example of a detox process that can be risky. In rare cases a person detoxing from alcohol will experience something called delirium tremens.3 This condition causes a fever, extreme agitation and confusion, hallucinations and even seizures. Other possible complications of alcohol withdrawal include depression and anxiety, and a serious memory condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which may cause tremors, lethargy, loss of consciousness and even permanent cognitive and memory deficits.4

Even when there are not serious potential complications, undergoing detox without medical supervision is not ideal. Medical supervision can make a client more comfortable, reduce the severity of symptoms and perhaps most importantly, provide a safe place with 24-hour care to prevent relapse.

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Medical Detox
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Detox is Only the First Step in Recovery

Detox is a necessary first step in recovery from a substance use disorder, but it is only the first step. It helps to manage the symptoms associated with going through withdrawal and prepares a person for the long, hard work of recovery. Research indicates that simply going through detox, even with medical supervision, is not adequate for long-term, positive changes. Detox alone has little impact on abstinence over the course of months or years.5

Once detox is complete a client should be ready to actively participate in a treatment program. This could be an outpatient program, support group attendance, individual counseling, an intensive outpatient plan or a residential, long-term treatment facility. Which type of program a person chooses next depends very much on his or her individual needs and strengths, and practical factors.

Medical Detox at Summit

For clients interested in treatment at Transformations, it is necessary to detox first. This is why the facility offers Summit Detox. The small medical facility offers everything necessary for a successful medical detox, including a safe residential location with 24-hour supervision and medical care.

This medical detox program begins with an individualized evaluation, which is necessary to determine the needs of each client. This is when the medical and counseling team determines what kind of care is needed, if medications will be used and how long it may take to get through detox. With these details known the caregivers can provide the best plan for each individual.

In addition to medical care and medications as needed, Summit offers comfortable rooms and experienced, caring staff to provide round-the-clock care. Clients stay on gender-specific floors for comfort and security; they have access to healthy foods and expert nutrition and meal planning; they are given natural remedies and supplements as needed; and clients in detox here have access to 12-step support groups each night and smoke breaks as needed.

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Medical Detox
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Detox is a difficult and necessary process that anyone who wants to be ready for treatment must complete. While there are other options, medical detox is a safe choice that offers the best chance of success for most people.

1Mayo Clinic. Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder).
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20365113

2Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/#A85332

3MedlinePlus. Alcohol Withdrawal.
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000764.htm

4MedlinePlus. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syncrome.
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000771.htm

5National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says.
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Medical Detox
5 (100%) 1 vote[s]

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