What are the Benefits of Medical Detox for Addiction?
When the subject comes up, the first question asked is often “Do I need medical detox?” It can be a scary prospect, but once you understand medical detox, you will be much more comfortable with the idea. Medical detox provides you with support, supervision, and medical care while you are going through the detox process.
Medical detox is often recommended if:
- Previous rehabilitation treatments were unsuccessful
- You have health issues
- You don’t have access to proper medical care
- You have been using drugs for a longer time period (months or years of heavy use)
- You are using drugs with dangerous withdrawal symptoms
What is Withdrawal?
When you use a drug, over time your body begins to compensate. Changes take place in your body to adjust to the effect of the drug. This can affect your thinking, mood, behavior, and cause physical symptoms. When you stop taking the drug, the body doesn’t immediately return to its predrug state of functioning. It continues to function the way it did when you were taking the drug.
Think of it as a see-saw. Drugs are one side of the see-saw. The changes your brain makes are the other side. When you first begin using drugs, the see-saw is unbalanced, which creates the high. Over a period of time, your brain achieves balance by making changes to accommodate the effects of the drug. You’ll notice you now need the drug to feel normal, and it’s more difficult to get high from it. When the drug leaves your system, the balance goes the other way, creating a crash. Your brain is now compensating for something that’s no longer there, which creates a different type of imbalance.
Advantages of Medical Detox
If you use drugs regularly, you’ve likely experienced withdrawal symptoms at some point. You may have found yourself desperate to make the symptoms stop, which of course meant obtaining more of the drug. The good news is that the process is much gentler with medical detox. Staff will be monitoring your condition, and you can be prescribed medication as needed.
Some clients only need comfort medicines to help them through acute withdrawal, while others may need more long-term medication treatments. The important thing is to get your body stable and keep you comfortable and safe as you come off the drug. Withdrawal will often have physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms. Doctors can assess your condition as you go through the detox process, and prescribe medications that will be beneficial.
When going through the detoxification process from certain drugs, there are real risks to your health. These risks can be safely managed or avoided in a detox facility. However, it can be dangerous without proper medical care. Life-threatening seizures and delusions can occur with benzodiazepines and alcohol withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal is usually not life-threatening, but side effects like dehydration from gastrointestinal symptoms and insomnia can have an adverse effect on your health.
Detecting Underlying Disorders
There are many underlying disorders that can be present. These won’t become obvious until you begin detoxing from the drug. Opiates can mask physical pain, making it possible to have a painful condition or illness without even being aware of it. When the drug wears off temporarily, it’s easy to assume the symptoms are from withdrawal, which leads to doing more of the drug to stop the symptoms.
Mental disorders often co-occur with addiction. The disorder may have been the underlying cause of addiction, or it may be the result of the changes in the brain due to the drug. Extreme stress brought about by addiction can also be a factor. When the drug begins to leave your system, psychological symptoms that were underlying and those related to withdrawal can very quickly come to the surface.
Both mental and physical issues need proper treatment for you to succeed in recovery. The detox process allows for any underlying issues to be discovered and treated. This puts you in a better position to stay clean and sober.
A Positive Start to Recovery
Recovery is like everything else in life. When you reach one goal, you are more confident and motivated to reach the next one. Medical detox gives you the best odds of succeeding at the first step of detoxifying your body from the drug. It also allows you to do it in a positive and safe way, setting you up for success with the rest of your recovery. You can move into the next step in the recovery process feeling confident and supported.
Research shows that combining needed medical treatment and behavioral therapy has the best success rate for treating addiction. For many, this process begins with medical detoxification. If drugs are controlling your life, there is help available. A supportive environment and the treatment you need is just a phone call away.