What is Medical Detox?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

What is medical detox as used in modern rehab?

When you try to stop drinking or using another drug on a regular basis, your body and brain are able to quickly help you see if your habit has crossed the threshold into addiction. If you’re struck by cravings and physical symptoms that involve extreme discomfort, it’s a certain sign that your relationship to your substance of choice is more than a habit;┬áit’s addiction, and you need help. Rehab help first begins with medical detoxification. What is medical detox, though?

How do you understand the medical detox process?

When you’re addicted to alcohol or a drug, and you cease use, you right away begin to feel symptoms involving pain, discomfort and cravings. These symptoms tend to last around a week or so, before fading. A century ago, they were put down to toxins and impurities in the system brought in by addictive substances. It was felt that the body needed to “detoxify.”

Today, medical research has found that the symptoms of withdrawal appear for different reasons. The term detoxification continues to in use now, however, even if there are calls for change.

The painful symptoms of withdrawal are artifacts of a brain adapting to a new chemical environment. When you use drugs, the brain needs to adjust to their presence; when drug use is ended, it quickly changes the brain’s chemical environment, and forces the brain to change again. The symptoms can be both dangerous and painful. Not only does one run the risk of giving up on sobriety altogether, the symptoms can cause dangerous effects, as well. Cardiac arrest, seizures and other effects are not uncommon.

Medical detox is the procedure that addicts in recovery submit to for help with these symptoms.

How does medical detox help?

As frightening as the symptoms of withdrawal can be, they tend to be readily controlled with medical intervention. People recovering from alcohol addiction, for instance, tend to be buffeted by waves of anxiety, nausea, and body ache. In medical detox, these are addressed with benzodiazepines, anti-emetics and painkillers. Sedatives help with seizures and a number of other effects.

When it comes to the cravings of withdrawal, there is a wide variety of medication available. Methadone, Suboxone, naltrexone and other innovative medications help not only take the edge off the cravings felt, they help recovering addicts stay clean – they render addictive substances ineffective.

While some people do consider detoxing without medical help, experts tend to view such attempts as risky. Not only are death and injury possible, such attempts frequently end in a return to addiction. It can be a while before such a person may muster the courage to attempt to quit again. Doing this can both waste years, and make sobriety harder to attain.

Choosing between inpatient and outpatient detox

Most people would prefer to detox with as little disruption to their lives as possible. They would prefer to live at home, go to work, and spend little on treatment. Such an approach does exist, in the form of outpatient medical detox. It tends to not work very well in most cases, however.

Addiction is notorious for the way it overwhelms the mind with cravings. No matter how strongly one may feel about quitting, it can all change once the cravings take over. It’s important to anticipate this before choosing a treatment program.

In inpatient detox, you check yourself into a residential facility where you are removed from all exposure to drugs and every possibility of cheating or giving up. No matter how unmotivated you may be, there are therapists to help you approach sobriety with focus and dedication. It’s no wonder that inpatient detox succeeds most of the time.

It’s important to find a detox that offers medically valid treatment, however; there are many centers that fail in this requirement, after all. If you’d like to research your options for medical detox from opiates, alcohol or other substances, the website of Better Addiction Care can be an invaluable resource. Not only can you find good, scientifically valid information for questions such as What is medical detox, you can find detailed information with searches such as medical detox near me, as well.

Finding quality treatment is important if you’re to find long-term relief from addiction. Better Addiction Care can help you find the right treatment program to get you started on a successful road to recovery. Call us today at 1 (800) 429-7690.