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Detox for drugs or alcohol addiction is the first vital step in an ongoing recovery process.

Before engaging with inpatient or outpatient treatment, you must first purge the residual toxins from substance abuse from your system. Detoxification timelines vary from person to person and according to the substance being used, typically taking between five and ten days.

A supervised medical detox is the most comfortable method of detoxification, and it is also the safest approach. Detoxing in a licensed medical detoxification center offers you access to medications to soothe the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. You will also benefit from around-the-clock emotional and clinical care.

Detox, a precursor to rehab and recovery, addresses the physical aspect of substance abuse and drug or alcohol dependence. After a week or so of medically monitored withdrawal, you will be ready to tackle the fiercely psychological component of substance use disorder (drug addiction) or alcohol use disorder (alcoholism).

What is a Drug or Alcohol Detox?

Detox for drugs or alcohol is an abbreviation for detoxification. During detoxification, your system metabolizes and expels toxins and toxic by-products. These toxins accumulate as a result of chronic substance abuse.

Every dedicated detox program has three core goals:

  • Allowing you to process toxins from your system as safely and comfortably as possible.
  • Using medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, if appropriate.
  • Helping you to transition from detoxification into an addiction treatment program, whether inpatient, outpatient, or virtual.

There are two main types of detox:

  1. Medical detox: A clinical detox in a licensed medical detox center is always recommended for moderate and severe addictions. Some people find a medical detox acts as a springboard into outpatient programming, while others segue from detox into inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab. With access to FDA-approved medications to streamline withdrawal, an environment free of triggers and addictive substances, and a committed team devoted to your clinical and emotional care, medical detoxification is the optimum foundational step on the recovery journey for most people addicted to drink or drugs.
  2. Home detox: For those with very mild addictions and no risk profile for severe withdrawal symptoms, discontinuing substance use in a social setting is the other detox option.

Remember: Quitting alcohol or drugs using the cold turkey method at home is not only dangerous, but potentially fatal. Reach out to Drug Rehab Centers and build a solid foundation for your ongoing recovery while mitigating risks and complications.

Why Go to a Medical Detox Center?

Although you may have heard anecdotal evidence that cold turkey home detoxes can be effective, home detoxes more frequently deliver negative outcomes. You’ll have no medical support, no medications to streamline withdrawal symptoms, and you may have access to addictive substances. These factors combine to increase the risk of relapse with a home detox.

Intense cravings for substances are a diagnostic criterion for drug addiction and alcoholism. Cravings are also a central feature of detoxification and withdrawal. Many people detoxing at home end up using alcohol or drugs to alleviate cravings, whereas those in a medical detox center cannot resort to this self-defeating tactic without first discharging themselves from the facility.

Withdrawing from alcohol at home is potentially fatal. Up to one in twenty people with severe alcohol use disorder will experience DTs (delirium tremens). This is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and can be life-threatening if symptoms present outside of a medical setting.

Additionally, those with more severe addictions to opioids (both heroin and synthetic opioid painkillers), benzodiazepines like Xanax, and stimulants like meth should engage with a supervised medical detoxification at a treatment center.

How do you detox someone from drugs, then?

What Happens During Detox?

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the average drug detoxification lasts for eight days.

During acute withdrawal, you will be actively supervised and medically monitored. If you require emotional support, you will have access to mental health professionals and addiction specialists in a medical detox center.

Medications can be administered during detoxification as follows:

  • Opioid withdrawal: Buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone.
  • Alcohol withdrawal: Disulfiram, naltrexone, acamprosate.
  • Anxiety: benzodiazepines.
  • Cravings: Vivitrol
  • Sleep: Ambien and other z-drugs.
  • Blood pressure: Clonidine
  • Seizure: Diazepam

Where detoxification for drugs or alcohol is a mainly physical process, sustained sobriety is predominantly psychological. If you detox in a treatment center, you will increase your chances of sustained recovery without relapse.

What is the Detox Process?

The detox process involves three critical phases:

  1. Evaluation: An initial assessment at a detoxification center enables a clinical professional to determine the withdrawal and acute intoxication potential for patients. Based on this initial evaluation, the treatment team is able to create a personalized detox plan with the appropriate level of care.
  2. Stabilization: This phase of drug or alcohol detoxification involves the patient following the treatment plan, with medications administered as necessary.
  3. Encouraging a transition into ongoing treatment: Detox alone is not typically enough to help you achieve long-term sobriety. No attention is paid to the social and psychological aspects of substance abuse during detoxification. You will focus on those elements in an ongoing treatment program, whether inpatient, outpatient, or virtual in delivery.

Although most detoxes follow this process, every addiction is unique, and every individual has different needs. The most effective detoxification is always highly personalized and takes place in a controlled medical setting.

Is Drug Detox Safe?

Drug detox is safe if you avoid quitting cold turkey at home and engage the services of a dedicated detoxification center.

Quitting alcohol, opioids, or benzos in a non-medical setting is not safe and could be life-threatening.

Access Licensed Medical Detox Programs with Drug Rehab Centers

Detox is the first and most crucial stage of recovery from addiction. Here at Drug Rehab Centers, we can connect you with accredited and licensed medical detoxification centers throughout Southern California.

Recovery is an ongoing process that requires treatment after detoxification. Contact us online for more information about the best inpatient and outpatient treatment centers near you. Alternatively, call 866.559.4256 for immediate assistance.