The term detoxification refers to the removal of toxins, or poisons, from a person’s body. In the realm of addiction treatment and recovery, detoxification is the process through which a person rids his or her body of substances of abuse. Also commonly referred to as detox, this process is an essential first step in the effort to overcome chemical dependency and live a healthier, drug-free life.
When a person has become dependent upon alcohol or another drug, his or her body will adapt to the presence of the substance. When that individual attempts to stop or significantly reduce his or her substance abuse, the absence of the drug will trigger the onset of a variety of distressing physical and psychological symptoms. This experience, which is known as withdrawal, will vary depending upon several factors, including which drug the individual has been abusing, the length of time that he or she has been dependent on that drug, and the amount of the drug that he or she has been abusing. However, common withdrawal symptoms include powerful cravings for the substance, insomnia, nausea, agitation, depression, tics and tremors, abdominal cramping, muscle and bone pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, individuals who are going through withdrawal may experience hallucinations, delusions, and seizures.
The pain of withdrawal, coupled with the realization that these symptoms can be eased merely by ingesting the substance that the person has been addicted to, can make it extremely difficult, and in some cases even dangerous, to end the cycle of substance abuse without help. For people who find themselves in such a circumstance, detox may be the answer that they have been searching for.
At addiction treatment programs within the Acadia Healthcare network, detoxification is a closely supervised process through which addicted individuals can rid their bodies of the substance or substances that they have been abusing in a safe and relatively comfortable manner. Often referred to as medically monitored detox, this process occurs in a clinical setting where experienced professionals can help to alleviate the physical and psychological distress that often accompanies withdrawal while also ensuring that the individual’s health is not at risk during the experience.
Detox typically takes three to five days, though this time frame can vary depending upon various personal factors. When an individual participates in detox at an Acadia program, he or she not only receives superior care throughout the process, but can transition directly into inpatient or residential care once he or she completes detox.
At programs within the Acadia Healthcare network, detox begins with a thorough psychosocial assessment, which includes an evaluation of the individual’s physical and psychological health as well as the collection of pertinent information related to his or her substance use, medical history, prior treatment experience, and related topics. This assessment allows the program’s professionals to develop a customized detox plan for the individual, and also provides the treatment team members with the data and insights that they will need to craft a personalized comprehensive treatment plan to guide the individual’s post-detox care.
The following are among the many benefits of participating in detox at an addiction treatment program within the Acadia Healthcare network:
- The individual will remain in a safe environment throughout the process, and will be under the care and supervision of trained and experienced professionals.
- The individual will not have access to the substance or substances upon which he or she had become dependent, so there is no risk of the individual relapsing.
- The individual will have continuous support throughout his or her time in detox, and will be working with professionals who have specific expertise in treating the physical and psychological impact of withdrawal.
- Depending upon the individual’s progress in detox and the philosophy of the program, he or she may be able to begin participating in the therapeutic component of his or her treatment plan while still in the detox environment.
- When the individual has successfully completed detox, he or she can transition directly into residential treatment or another level of care, which will significantly increase his or her likelihood for achieving long-term recovery, and will reduce the risk of immediate relapse.
Depending upon the individual’s medical history, the nature and severity of his or her substance abuse, and the policies and protocols of the specific program, detox may include the administration of certain medications that are designed to ease both physical and psychological distress. For example, symptoms of opioid withdrawal are often treated with medications such as methadone, Suboxone, Subutex, and Vivitrol, while individuals who are withdrawing from alcohol may benefit from certain prescription bezodiazepines. Of course, the specific medications that may be incorporated into any individual’s detox treatment will be determined by consultation with the members of his or her treatment team at the program where he or she receives care.
At Acadia Healthcare, we are well aware of the challenges that are involved in overcoming an addiction to alcohol or other drugs, and we respect the courage of each person who chooses to heal with us. We also know that fear or confusion about the detox process can, unfortunately, prevent people from getting the help that they need. We hope that the information on this page dispels any misinformation that a person may have acquired about what does and does not occur during detox. Though each person will have a unique experience, detox at Acadia centers features certain important commonalities, including superior clinical care, compassionate support from experienced professionals, a dedication to the safety and comfort of individuals who are completing detox, and the ability to transition seamlessly into treatment following detox.
To learn more about detox, or for answers to any questions that you may have about any aspect of treatment at any Acadia-affiliated treatment program, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We look forward to providing you with the information that you need to make the most informed decision for yourself or for a loved one.