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How Does a Medical Detox Work?

Are you looking at medical detox for yourself or a loved one? Addiction can be deadly, and so can alcohol withdrawal. If not done properly, it can lead to heart failure, kidney failure, and more. The rate of dying from alcohol withdraw ranges from 6 to 25 percent depending on your symptoms—and this does not include other deadly drug addictions which can be even more fatal.

Addiction is a chronic disease, and any long-term use leads to a chemical dependency on alcohol or drugs. This is why medical detox at an inpatient detox facility is recommended to help the person safely stop use drugs or alcohol under the care of a medical team.

You probably have a lot of questions about this program. Keep reading to learn more on how to safely end an addiction.

What Is Medical Detox?

When someone is dependent on a substance, any time they stop taking that drug it causes physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms.

A medical detox program offers a safer environment for this person in withdrawal under medical supervision. When necessary, the medical team can provide medication to relieve symptoms to make detox easier and safer than someone attempting to do it on their own.

A person can experience a wide variety of symptoms during detox including:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shaking and shivering
  • High temperature or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating

Going to an inpatient detox treatment program won’t help avoid these symptoms, but it can reduce the severity and help you be comfortable during this process.

When Is Medical Detox Necessary?

So, when is detox necessary? Individuals with a physical dependence are candidates for this program, but how can you tell if you or someone has a chemical dependence?

Here are some signs you should consider detox programs:

  • Used the substance for a long period of time
  • Used the substance in large amounts regularly
  • Craved the substance regularly when not available
  • Noticed a diminished effect with the same amount of substance
  • Tried to quit using this substance and was unable to
  • Required increasing the amount of substance to feel the effects

Each substance has its own withdrawal symptoms that are caused by the body. Heroin detox and alcohol detox may be completely different and a medical team will know how to handle each unique set of symptoms.

Other drugs that may require a medical detox program include benzodiazepines, opioids, stimulants, and other synthetic drugs.

What Happens During the Detox Program?

The first step of any medically assisted detox is for the doctors to give the patient a medical assessment to help create a plan based on this person’s needs. During the assessment, the medical professional will get information on the person’s medical history and other details about their addiction. Then the medical team will develop a personalized detox plan.

After the drugs and alcohol in the person’s system are reduced, the person will then begin the withdrawal process. It can vary in severity depending on the substance and how long the person was addicted to it. Each detox can be different regardless if the person has gone through withdrawal previously.

In addition to the physical withdrawal symptoms discussed above, the person may experience psychological withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Intense cravings

There are even more severe withdrawal symptoms that require medical intervention including seizures, hallucinations, and delirium.

In order to cope with these symptoms, the medical team gives controlled medication to help relieve the severity of the symptoms. This medication can also help ease anxiety and depression along with helping the person get sufficient amounts to sleep. The medical team will also monitor vitals and make sure the person’s system is working properly.

The most important part of detox care is the around-the-clock support. It’s important for the person to have compassionate and supportive care to have a successful detox period. It gives them the best chance for a positive outcome.

Therefore, each person should be carefully monitored 24 hours a day throughout the process.

How Long Does Detox Take?

Again, this can vary based on the person and the substance, but the average detox process takes about seven to ten days. This varies based on these factors:

  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • How much drugs or alcohol the person consumed
  • Mental and physical functioning

After detox, the person is ready to address the reasons for the addiction in an addiction treatment program. They will receive intensive psychological therapy after their medical needs are addressed.

Next Steps After Detox

Detox addresses just the physical problems of addiction, but it cannot alter what caused the addiction. The psychological aspect of addiction needs to be addressed next.

Medical detox is only effective if it is just one component of a treatment program that addresses other areas such as spiritual, emotional, and behavioral causes of a person’s addiction.

After detox, the person should transition to a program to address these issues.

Ready To Take the Next Step?

Now that you understand the medical detox program, it’s time to take the first step in your journey or helping your loved one move forward. You don’t have to do it alone. Detox can be scary and overwhelming, but the good news is, with the right care, you can do it.

There are many facilities to help you get sober and stay that way. Feel free to reach out to us in confidentiality. We are here for you and will help guide you to your next steps or answer any of your questions.