Addiction is a serious illness, and trying to overcome it alone is rarely a good idea. Just like no patients would seriously attempt to heal diabetes or asthma without professional assistance, neither should someone struggling with addiction aim to detox at home. Through a medically supported detox, patients can increase their chance of success, prepare for further recovery, have support in emergency situations and get assistance to reduce pain.
Formal Detox Increases Chance of Success
A medically supervised detox can greatly increase the chance of a patient’s successful recovery. Medical detox typically offers closed premises, accountability and support. Furthermore, it removes temptations and limits choices for a brief time, which can make it easier to stay on track during detox.
The idea of closed facilities is an important one to discuss. This means that patients are required to stay at the center, and on its premises, for the duration of their detox. Since this is typically just a matter of days, it isn’t a restriction of freedom. Rather, it is a way to ensure that no illicit or addictive substances make their way into the hands of patients.
Another way that a medical detox can aid in recovery is by removing temptation. Attempting to detox from alcohol, for example, will be virtually impossible if partners, family and coworkers are drinking or discussing evening plans at a bar. In detox, those temptations are out of sight, helping to also keep them out of mind.
A professional detox center staffed by medical professionals also offers the necessary accountability that many patients need. This can include daily urine testing, or it could mean nightly discussions with a counselor to examine the day’s cravings and progress. This accountability and 24/7 support helps patients feel less alone, which may encourage them to stick with the detox and achieve the sobriety they desire.
Medical Professionals Can Identify and Handle Emergency Situations
During a detox from drugs or alcohol, most patients will enter withdrawal. During this time, the body can react unfavorably, and certain symptoms may present themselves. In the case of unusual but serious complications, medical professionals will be on hand.
While rare, it is possible for those detoxing from certain drugs or alcohol to deal with situations such as extreme dehydration, violent outbursts, mental confusion, cardiac arrest and seizures. If these were to happen at home, or under the supervision of someone untrained in this field, it could result in serious damage and possibly a fatality.
In a medical detox center, however, there will always be a medical professional on call to handle these unusual but extreme situations. If patients are dehydrated, IVs can be administered immediately. If signs of more serious problems are evident, professionals will know how to respond and whether emergency attention at a nearby hospital is a necessity.
Formal Detox Can Reduce Discomfort for Patients
It is not just in extreme health conditions that medical professionals are helpful during a detox. On the contrary, they can utilize a number of techniques and resources that will make detox simpler, less painful and more comfortable for patients. For this reason alone, it is worth choosing a medical detox over any other alternative.
One of the ways that pain and discomfort can be mitigated in a medically supervised detox is in the form of prescription medication. Professionals in this field will be familiar with which medications are contraindicated for patients as well as proper dosages throughout the detox. They may also administer sedatives to encourage sleep and dispel both fatigue and insomnia during the detoxification process.
Staff at a detox center are also trained in what can help patients recover and what might be counterproductive. For example, light exercise can often boost circulation and push for a faster detox, but not if patients are suffering from a high temperature or an elevated heart rate. Staff can recommend what patients should eat, as well as how much they should eat, to maximize nutrition without encouraging digestive distress.
In Some Cases, Detox Can Utilize Weaning Techniques
Generally, the medical consensus is that when it comes to dangerous drugs, weaning with the actual substance can be dangerous and inherently carries risks with every use. However, medical detox facilities can administer things like synthetic medications to aid in the weaning process.
For those addicted to opioid drugs, for instance, synthetic opioid medications can be administered. These will essentially trick the brain into thinking it has received a dose of the preferred opiate, but it won’t deliver the typical euphoria. When given by a medical professional, this option can help to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.
However, it is vital that these synthetic substances are only administered by medical professionals. While they don’t carry significant side effects, they are still addictive. Unfortunately, those who try these weaning medications improperly and without supervision may end up addicted to the medication instead of, or as well as, their initial drug addiction.
Medical Detox Sets the Stage for Lifelong Recovery and Sobriety
An important but often overlooked benefit of a medical detox is that it can set the stage for continuing recovery and lifelong sobriety. It can help achieve this through health assessments, mental health screenings, addiction awareness and future recommendations.
When patients begin a formal detox program, there will often be an initial evaluation. This is similar to a physical at a doctor’s office, but it also explores family history and personal addiction history. This is a key source of information, because it can also help patients get any physical help they need in addition to sobriety.
During a medically supervised detox, there will also typically be mental health assessments. Since mental health and substance abuse are so often linked, this is vital for the long-term mental health of all patients.
Finally, detox can include elements of addiction education and awareness. This may be what helps patients understand the reality of addiction and what needs to be done in the future to maintain sobriety.
A medical detox is a key part of recovering from addiction. With medical supervision, detox will be safer and more comfortable for patients, and they will enjoy a lower chance of relapse and a higher chance of successful, lasting sobriety.