The first step in drug and alcohol addiction recovery is detoxification. The withdrawal process that happens during detoxification can be dangerous, sometimes even life-threatening; therefore, it is vital that someone who needs to detox off of drugs or alcohol does so in a medical setting where they can be supervised by trained medical professionals. These trained professionals, or detox specialists, have the very important job of walking addicts and alcoholics through the detox process, making sure that their patients are as comfortable as possible during withdrawal, and that they are surrounded with the necessary support needed to aid addicted individuals as they prepare for their next phase of treatment.
How Long Will Detox Last? Will It Be Painful?
Detoxification and withdrawal from alcohol or narcotics varies from individual to individual, and depends greatly on certain factors such as which substance/substances were abused, the frequency and duration of the abuse, and the physical and mental condition and overall health of the addict or alcoholic. Depending on these factors, an individual’s detox will last between two days to two weeks and the withdrawal symptoms that go along with detoxification may be mild or severe.
Why Attend Medical Detox?
Beginning abstinence can be a traumatic experience for any individual who has become physically or psychologically dependent on a substance. The majority of medical professionals discourage self-detox or a “cold turkey” detox as it could send the body spiraling into shock. The do, however, encourage enrollment into a medical detox facility where they can be supervised by a trained professional medical staff who will monitor vital signs, prescribe medications that can help with withdrawal symptoms, and act quickly in the case of life-threatening symptoms.
The withdrawal symptoms that addicts may endure differ person to person and may include the following:
- Convulsions or seizures
- Sleep disturbances
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Cardiac arrest
- Extreme cravings
- Stomach discomfort
Effectiveness of a Medical Detox Program
An effective medical detox program will help more than just the physical symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal, it will also encourage emotional and spiritual healing. Regardless of what brought the addict or alcoholic to detox, whether it was their choice or a they are forced to, the addiction professionals at the detox facility can help them to understand that they have a problem that has made their life unmanageable, start to discover the underlying issues that have brought them to this point, and encourage them to continue on through treatment that will lay a foundation for long-term recovery.