Many people assume that when the time comes to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction the first thing to do is to immediately enter into a rehab treatment program. That’s not the case though. Before starting any level of care for a substance use disorder (SUD), you must first complete a drug and alcohol detox program.
Detoxing is done to help get rid of all the illicit substances that are in the body before addiction treatment can begin. The detox process is often unpleasant and can even be dangerous if not done under proper medical care and supervision. Self-detoxing can be dangerous and life-threatening due to painful withdrawal symptoms.
Keep reading to learn more about what happens during detox, and why you should always undergo this process in a safe and professional environment, such as Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery in Nampa, Idaho.
What is Medical Detox?
Medical detox is defined as the process of safely managing the symptoms of withdrawal that a person will experience when they stop using and abusing illicit substances. Detoxing is done to rid the body of all the harmful substances that are in it so that the body and brain can begin the healing process.
Treatment and recovery cannot begin until the body is free and clear of all the substances of abuse. Detox and rehab go hand-in-hand, but are not a replacement for one another. This is always known in rehab as the first step.
While the withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxing vary based on the substance or substances being abused and the severity of the addiction, overall withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant and can be dangerous if not properly monitored and treated. That’s where medial detox comes in.
Medical detox is done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center. During this process, individuals are safely monitored and treated around the clock for their withdrawal symptoms. Medications will often be administered that are designed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. This signifies the beginning of the treatment process and recovery journey.
Attempting to self-detox can lead to serious medical issues, an increased risk of relapse, and, in extreme cases, even death. Always consult a professional.
How Does Medical Detox Work?
The length of time you spend in a medical detox program and your overall detox experience will vary based on a variety of factors including:
- The substance or substances you were abusing
- The severity of the addiction
- The dosage amount you were taking
- Overall health
- If you are suffering from any co-occurring disorders as well
Regardless of your condition, upon arriving at the facility to begin your medical detox program you will be evaluated by medical and treatment professionals to determine the severity of your condition so that they can create a detox program for you and your needs.
During your time in detox, you will be closely monitored by medical professionals and be administered medications or other forms of treatment as deemed necessary to address your withdrawal symptoms as well as any other addiction-related conditions you might be dealing with.
Once it has been deemed that you have completed your medical detox program you can then enter into an addiction treatment program.
How Long Does Detox Last?
As we touched on above, the length of time you spend in detox varies based on things like the severity of your addiction, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, and what substance or substances you were abusing.
While the average detox program is 1 week, different substances typically require longer detox programs:
- Alcohol addiction – Anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks
- Prescription opioids – Up to 2 weeks
- Heroin addiction – Up to several weeks
It’s important to remember that there is no rushing the detox process. Detoxing needs to be done safely and thoroughly to be effective.
What Happens During Detox?
Over time, as you continue to abuse drugs and alcohol your body and brain become more and more dependent on the substances until the brain thinks that it needs those substances to function properly.
Once you reach that point of addiction and then stop taking said substance or substances, your body, and brain will go into a shock-like state and begin to rebel. This takes palace in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from unpleasant to dangerous and even potentially life-threatening. That’s why it is imperative that when the time comes when you decide to stop taking whatever substances you are abusing, you do so under proper medical care and supervision and not cold turkey.
While withdrawal symptoms can vary based on the substance(s) you are abusing, there are some common symptoms associated with the detox process such as:
- Body aches and pains
- Flu-like symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol abuse and addiction can begin as soon as 6 hours after your last drink. Symptoms typically peak within the first 48 to 72 hours before slowly going away.
Alcohol detox can last anywhere from 1 to 10 days and withdrawal symptoms include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
The timeline for withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines varies based on the type you are abusing. Regardless of the type of benzo you are taking, you may experience the following withdrawal symptoms during benzo detox:
- Sensitivity to light, smells, and sounds
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle aches and pains
- Rapid heart rate
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 6 hours after your last dose was taken. During the opioid detox process, you may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Muscle aches and pains
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in body temperature
Stimulants such as meth and cocaine don’t typically come with any extreme physical withdrawal symptoms. Someone detoxing from a stimulant may experience extreme and even severe psychological withdrawal symptoms including:
- Intense cravings
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Slowed movements
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
What Medications Are Used During Detox?
Depending on the substance or substances that you are detoxing from, certain medications have been FDA-approved to treat or alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with specific substances of abuse.
For those undergoing opioid detox, the following medications may be administered:
For those undergoing alcohol detox, the following medications may be administered:
In addition, during medical detox, medical and treatment professionals will often administer over-the-counter medications as well to help alleviate some of the more commonly treatable symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
What Happens After Detox?
Once you have completed your detox program the next step is to start treatment. If you are undergoing detox at a local medical facility or dedicated detox center, your treatment professional will likely recommend treatment facilities that you can go to for either inpatient or outpatient treatment.
Should you choose to undergo medical detox with us at Eagle Creek Ranch then there is no transition necessary. The next step will be to begin one of our either inpatient or outpatient programs depending on which one is better for you and your needs.
- Meth addiction
- Cocaine addiction
- Heroin addiction
- Alcohol addiction
- Benzo addiction
- Opioid addiction
- Marijuana addiction
- Fentanyl addiction
If you are suffering from a mental health condition in addition to your substance use disorder, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment programs to help address both your mental health condition and addiction including depression and types of anxiety.
Want To Know More About What Happens During Detox?
Detoxing is done to rid the body of all harmful toxins accumulated from abusing substances over time. Due to the nature of detoxing and the withdrawal symptoms associated with it, the process should always be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals.
Attempting to self-detox or quit “cold turkey” can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Doing so has been shown to greatly increase the risk of relapse as well during the beginning and typically just after leaving treatment.
If you are looking for a safe place to detox where you can be under constant medical care and supervision, look no further than Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery.
We have helped many people make the transition into the next phase of recovery a little bit easier once the detox process has been completed.
For more information on what happens when you detox, and the variety of available treatment resources, and therapy services we offer, contact us today. We look forward to helping you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction.
Kendall Maloof is the clinical director at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has held multiple leadership roles before settling here at Eagle Creek. Kendall received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Her career in mental and behavioral health began in 2014 when she took up internships in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She interned at multiple reputable companies, such as The Living Success Center and 449 Recovery in California.
In 2019, Kendall became the clinical director of Sunsets Recovery for Woman, a dual diagnosis program in southern California. Kendall is a natural leader. She has an incredible ability to problem solve and stay calm in any situation. Kendall never fails to show up when she is needed, and her calm demeanor makes her team and clients feel at ease. Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery is proud to have Kendall as our clinical director.