medical detox

Medically Supervised Detox: What to Expect

There are a lot of moving parts that make up a successful addiction treatment program, but detox is one of the most important. Detox is the initial period of time where your body flushes itself of drugs and alcohol and you begin to function once again as a sober individual. 

Although detox is necessary for your body, it can be a grueling process, and in some cases life-threatening. Essentially, once you become addicted to a substance, your body thinks you need it to function. When you take it away, your mind and body are going to try and convince you that something is wrong by making you physically ill. Medical supervision can ensure that the detox is completed safely and that all precautions are taken to avoid any health consequences

What is Medical Supervision? 

When someone decides to give up drugs or alcohol, they can either seek professional help or attempt to detox at home by themselves. Some choose to try it alone so they don’t have to make their addiction public, while others choose too for financial or other personal reasons. 

Medical Supervision is when detox is completed, usually in a facility, under 24/7 supervision by physicians and medically trained professionals. These professionals will be able to address any unforeseen health issues, mental health concerns, or medicinal needs. 

Why Should You Complete Detox With Medical Supervision?

The Physical symptoms caused by withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be severe. With addiction, the body only knows how to function with the substance. Everything from cognitive skills and organ function has adjusted to run on the substance.  

When the body suddenly stops receiving that substance, your system goes haywire. Common side effects of  detox include:

  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Digestive Issues
  • Dizziness
  • Migraine 
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Confusion
  • Brain Fog
  • Fever
  • Feeling lightheaded

For some, detox can be severe enough to cause life-threatening issues like seizures and strokes. If these were to occur at home with no one there to recognize what was happening and stop it before it becomes dangerous, the damage could be irreversible. 

With medical supervision, physicians are trained to recognize when symptoms go beyond “normal” detox side effects. In some cases, clinical staff will offer medications that can safely reduce physical symptoms and prevent life-threatening situations.

Mental Health Supervision

Sure the physical symptoms of detox are challenging to cope with, but the mental side effects are just as daunting and can be dangerous. When your brain panics and doesn’t know how to function without drugs, your hormones and emotions lose control. 

Detox can cause severe anxiety, depression, and panic. It can make you think about things you may not actually believe, but are feeling just because of withdrawal. It’s really challenging to deal with this kind of internal struggle, and professionals including doctors and therapists can help. Some common mental health symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Severe Mood Swings
  • Nightmares
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Short Term Memory Loss

Having someone reassure you that everything is okay and that you’re on the right path will help you stay calm. You may also require anti-anxiety meds or other kinds of medication to help you through the process. 

Is Medicated Assistance Safe? 

It may seem counterproductive to help detoxify the body of drugs with more drugs, but professionals know how to safely prescribe and monitor all medications. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need more drugs to detox- but there are some situations where the risk of permanent damage is too high without medicated assistance. 

Medically supervised detox usually entails daily and even hourly supervision which makes the development of a secondary addiction unlikely. 

What To Expect During Medically Supervised Detox? 

There are many options for medically supervised detox including length of the program, types of counselors, and services offered. In order to determine what program is best for you, some things to take into consideration include

  • Severity of Addiction 
  • Length of Addiction
  • Pre-existing conditions (physical and mental)
  • Financials/Insurance Information

For the majority of detox programs, the length ranges from a couple of days to a week.  Doctors will monitor progress and patients’ health status. Additional time may be added to your program as needed. 

During the time at the detox facility, patients can expect to receive constant care and supervision from doctors, nurses, and therapists. Patients will be expected to attend therapy sessions as well as attend the regular check-in with physicians. 

Depending on your personal needs, medicine may be administered daily to help you through detox. 

Detox Stages:

Treatment centers follow a general guideline for the stages of detox that describe the process and helps to monitor progress. The three stages include:

Evaluation: Upon entering the facility, patients are tested for drugs and alcohol in the bloodstream. This stage consists of both physical and mental health screenings and helps to identify any co-occurring conditions. 

Stabilization: Medical professionals assist patients through the actual detox process and if needed  may administer medications to help with withdrawal symptoms. This stage is around 3-5 days and is the time where the body flushes itself of the toxins and chemicals. 

Post-Detox Treatment:  This stage will include a post-detox evaluation and doctors/professionals will work with patients to set up a long term care program that would best suit their needs. 

What Happens After Detox?

Once you have completed detox, you will meet with your professionals to come up with a more long term rehab program. Detox is just the first step, and it’s important to come up with a plan that will give you the tools to cope with addiction triggers and maintain your sobriety for life. There are a lot of different options for anyone who needs long term care. Getting to those steps, however, requires a successful detox which is best achieved through medical supervision. If you would like to learn more about medical detox please contact our addiction treatment specialists at (877) 455-0055. You can also contact us here.