The Importance of Detoxing Safely from Drugs or Alcohol

Detox is a Crucial First Step

When an individual decides to take the first step toward overcoming addiction, detox is often where this begins. Addictive substances must be flushed out of the system to begin the recovery process. Detoxing is actually a natural type of process that happens when a person stops taking drugs. The majority of the drugs will exit the body within a few days, and as long as no more are used, the body will be clear of these substances.

With active addiction, there is a steady stream of drugs being cycled through the body so that they are never entirely gone. After some time, the body and brain learn to function with a certain level of a particular substance at all times. When presented with the feeling of withdrawal symptoms, for example: headache, anxiety, tremors or other uncomfortable feelings, the addicted individual will have another dose, and the uncomfortable feelings stop temporarily.

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While detox is an important first step to rehab, it can also be quite a difficult one. The key is to get through the withdrawal feelings without taking another dose of drugs or another drink of alcohol. Addiction makes this nearly impossible to overcome without assistance.

Detoxing Safely is Important for Both Body and Mind

A detox program is necessary to get through this critical step of addiction recovery. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severely life-threatening, depending on the substance abuse situation. Much of this has to do with the type of addictive substance, but physical and mental health hold major roles as well. Relying on a medical professional to manage withdrawal symptoms can make the detox process much more comfortable for the patient. Additionally, medical intervention or resuscitation may be necessary in order to prevent severe physical withdrawal side effects.

How Does A Medical Detox Work?

A detox program normally will be completed in three stages:

Stage 1: Evaluation

The person’s condition is evaluated, and he or she is tested to see what drugs are in the system. This will help professionals to anticipate the needs of the individual as the detox process progresses.

Stage 2: Stabilization

The individual’s condition will begin to change as time passes. Medical intervention will be administered as needed to keep vital signs within normal range and ease the pain of symptoms one may be experiencing. One must keep in mind that detox is not easy, and each person may experience withdrawal symptoms differently. While symptoms of every single type of substance withdrawal may not be 100% treatable, the person undergoing detox treatment will be kept as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

Stage 3: Transitioning to a Treatment Program

Preparing to transition to the rehab program is the last step in the detox phase of recovery. Individuals may begin to experience cravings at the end of detox, and this is normal. At this stage of recovery, addiction professionals will assist in reducing cravings and will identify any mental health issues which need to be addressed while in the addiction rehab program.

Facing emotional and physical issues in rehab to actively work through them can be a big challenge for some people. Those who have undergone a successful and comfortable detox process will have an advantage, though, because they did not enter rehab feeling physically sick or “broken”.

The Detox Process is Less Painful Than One May Assume

Drug and alcohol rehab will often begin with detox treatment, which allows for toxic substances to exit the body while managing withdrawal symptoms. The length of time, type of detox and medical protocol will vary with each individual substance and the amount of time it has been abused. The three stages of detox: evaluation, stabilization and transitioning to treatment are all critical and none should be skipped. No matter where detox is administered, the third step is is the most important to attain long-term sobriety. Detox in and of itself not complete rehabilitation treatment.

It is important to note that detoxing “going cold turkey” may have severe, life-threatening consequences. One should never attempt to detox on their own, especially for alcohol, benzodiazepines and/or barbiturates. All of these substances absolutely require medical supervision.

Detox is strongly recommended for opiates and prescription opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone, and also as brand formulations including Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, OxyContin and Percocet. Risks of quitting cold turkey include:

-Needlessly uncomfortable withdrawal
-Increased risk of relapse
-Increased risk of overdose form relapse because of a lowered tolerance to the substance
-Possible Death (frequently seen due to uncontrolled seizures and convulsions)

The detox and rehab evaluation process includes blood tests, screening for mental and physical co-occurring disorders, risk assessment for withdrawal severity and need for medical supervision. The stabilization process will help the individual get past acute intoxication and withdrawal by administering medication to ease symptoms. The evaluation process will help create an individualized detox plan based on many factors, with the goal of keeping the person as comfortable as possible during this time.


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What About Helping Someone Else with Addiction and Detox?

Does someone you care about have a problem with addiction? The sooner an addiction is treated, the easier it is to overcome. The damage to their health and their life can be minimized by early intervention, but bear in mind, if the person is an adult, it is ultimately their own decision to seek treatment. Below are some signs to help identify an addiction:

Withdrawal from Social Situations
Someone struggling with addiction may pull away from family and friends, and avoid social situations to spend more time alone.

Mood Swings
Those struggling with addiction may experience mood swings, often becoming irritable and anxious when craving their next dose.

Fluctuations in Weight
Excessive weight loss or gain in a short period of time can be a sign of drug abuse.

Changes in Activity Level
When someone becomes much more excitable or much less active than usual, this can be a sign of addiction to a drug that is affects the blood pressure and heart rate, whether that means increased or decreased.

Empty Bottles and Containers
An unusual number of empty alcohol bottles or pill containers in the trash, or other places can be a sign of addiction.

Secretive Behavior
Addiction may cause people to try to hide their actions, behaviors and ‘the evidence’, while at the same time pushing them to do things they would not normally do.

Redness of Eyes or Flushed Skin
Red eyes or a flushed-looking complexion can be indicative of drug addiction.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s possible that this the result of drug addiction or an alcohol problem. Addiction is a serious condition that requires professional intervention. Getting in touch with an addiction treatment center is the best thing you can do for yourself or for a loved one who is struggling with drugs or alcohol.

Detox On its Own Is Not Enough

Professional detox is only the first step to overcoming addiction. Detox is critical part of recovery and requires medical intervention and supervision.

Abusive of drugs or alcohol is only an outward sign of addiction. The real problem lies inside the brain where the drug habit takes over the pleasure centers and becomes top priority to the addicted individual. There is a part of the human brain which is naturally designed to create habits by rewarding certain behaviors with positive emotions. This area of the brain becomes dependent on the drug and will not let it go easily because of the ‘good’ feelings it creates.

Following detox, when the addictive substances are out of the body, the brain will be looking for that pleasurable high once again. Addiction is strong enough to make a person act in ways that he or she knows are detrimental to their health, and physical detox alone will not relieve this. Professionals are well aware of this ordeal and therefore behavioral therapy is highly recommended to help get rid of drug habits. Treatment services work in conjunction with detox to clear the drugs out of the body and work on reversing the changes in the brain that were responsible for developing the habit.

Why Choose Transformations by the Gulf ?

Transformations by the Gulf uses a holistic recovery model to transition individuals from one stage of the recovery process to the next. Upon completion of our programs, we offer continuing group therapy opportunities to those who wish to keep moving forward on a positive life path. We strongly believe in preserving individuality and dignity through the entire detox and recovery process. Addiction is often difficult to face, but we strive to make all of our best efforts towards each person’s recovery so that this healing process will be viewed as a relief from the suffering and anxiety of addiction.

Call us today at (727) 498-6498 to speak to an addiction professional.


Get Addiction Help Now:  (727) 498-6498  |  Contact Form  |  Addiction Homepage