The detoxification process is a crucial part of early recovery. In addition to allowing the addict to stop using or drinking safely, it also sets an important precedent for their later behavior. Detox formally separates the drinker or drug user from their substance and allows them to start their lives afresh. Persons who undergo the detoxification process are significantly more likely to stay clean and sober for the long term. Detox doesn’t just save lives; it also starts the addict on the path to a life worth living.
The Detox Process
Simply put, detox is the period of time when drugs or alcohol gradually leave the user’s body. Because the body undergoes intense changes during this time, the detoxification process can be very dangerous. In fact, it can be fatal if not done properly. Hundreds of addicts lose their lives every year by stopping too abruptly. The abrupt stoppage of alcohol and many prescription drugs are especially dangerous. Detox must only be performed in a medical setting, by trained professionals with access to life saving resources.
Professional detox is a safe process that occurs in a hospital setting. The length of stay is usually from five to ten days, depending on the patient’s needs. There is always an attending physician present, one with specialized training in addiction and the detoxification process. The addict or alcoholic is treated as a patient, with all the care and compassion they deserve during this difficult time. They are also constantly monitored, to ensure maximum comfort and safety.
The exact methods can vary, but the patient generally receives prescription drugs that are proven to alleviate withdrawal symptoms safely. They will also be checked and treated for any accompanying conditions. The detox drugs are administered in smaller and smaller amounts, until the patient is safely free of drugs and alcohol completely. Once the patient is free of withdrawal symptoms and medically stabilized, they are released into the next phase of their treatment.
Other Benefits of Detox
At one time or another, almost every addict or alcoholic tries to stop using on their own. Tired of the pain and consequences of constant use, they gradually reduce the amounts they consume in an attempt to stop completely. Unfortunately, these efforts usually end poorly, often within a day or two. The symptoms of withdrawal are too difficult to endure without help, and the addict quickly resumes their prior destructive patterns. This process is often repeated again and again, usually with the same negative results. Once a certain point is reached, it is next to impossible for the addict to stop on their own.
In addiction to providing comfort and safety, successful detox means the addict has crossed a meaningful threshold, one with great practical and symbolic value. Patients emerge from detox stable and confident, with the fresh start so many addicts need to achieve recovery. Detox is the first and most powerful act of surrender the addict can make.