The Importance of Medical Detox
People in active addiction suffer from the effects of the substances they use; be it drugs and/or alcohol. These substances taken in large quantities over time ravage a person’s mind and body. Some of these effects can be permanent though in most cases if their disease is brought into remission, a lot of the effects can be temporary. Thankfully, our bodies and minds are quite resilient.
by Shayne Sundholm
A person in active addiction has developed an overwhelming dependence, most often both mentally and physically, for the substances they are using. As tolerance builds, the number of substances required to get high and ward off withdrawal symptoms increases. Mental and physical dependence increases with increasing amounts consumed. In a lot of cases, for example the person addicted to opioids, the person finds themselves using simply not to get sick from withdrawal.
Withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol is incredibly painful, both mentally and physically. In fact, it can be deadly if not handled with proper medical detoxification. People have died trying to detoxify themselves, particularly from benzodiazepines, e.g., Xanax, alcohol, and opioids. A person going through withdrawal from these substances and others can experience seizures. Some may choke on their tongues, fall and hit their head rendering them unconscious or dead. In other cases, the body may just shut down from the ravages of the substances and debilitating withdrawal symptoms – their heart stops and that is it.
In most cases where those in active addiction try to detox themselves, the withdrawal symptoms are simply too painful, and they resume consumption of the substances. In short, without a proper medical detoxification, people in active addiction will simply continue to use, the disease continues to progress, and many die, some in a very short amount of time.
Medical Detoxification is designed to minimize these horrific withdrawal symptoms. It typically takes 5 to 7 days, however, it can take longer in more severe cases and depending on what types of substances are involved. Once a person is cleared for entry into a detox facility and cleared to start receiving treatment, certain prescription drugs, combined with holistic substances, specific nutrition, hydration, and other tactics are employed as part of the detoxification process. This medical approach reduces the withdrawal symptoms. In many instances, the withdrawal symptoms are barely even felt by the person going through the process.
In short, there is no need to overly suffer from drugs and/or alcohol. Even for someone homeless or without insurance, there are typically plenty of state funded detox entities designed for these purposes. If the suffering person does have insurance, that makes choosing a facility much easier. That said, state funded facilities often do a more than adequate job if they are staffed properly, detox protocols are sound, etc.
If the person does have insurance or resources to enter a private detoxification facility, we urge these people and their families to do their research. Look for credibility factors, speak with others who have been to the facilities if possible. We also urge people to look for treatment centers that have a “full spectrum” of care meaning they can complete 60, 90, or more days of treatment in the facility.
While medical detoxification is critical, it is only the beginning. The process of recovery can only start after detoxification, when the body and mind become cleared of the active substances are ready to receive imperative clinical treatment.