The first step to a formal addiction rehab program is often drug and alcohol detoxification, also known as simply detox. This form of treatment isn’t necessary for every type of substance a person can be addicted to, but it’s an indispensable step for anyone with a strong addiction to alcohol, hard drugs, and certain prescription drugs.
The detoxing process generally takes anywhere from 5-10 days, depending on the caregiver or treatment center. There are actually multiple levels of detox services, as well. Some are closely monitored, while others aren’t. Some offer medicine to help the individual come down for their substance of choice, while others focus on alternative ways of helping the patient heal.
For effective treatment, detox is required to overcome addiction to any of the following commonly abused substances:
- Cocaine and crack
- Prescription drugs
- Opioid painkillers (such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, fentanyl and even methadone)
- Benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, and Ativan)
- MDMA (aka ecstasy or Molly)
Drug and alcohol detox helps flush the toxins of a harmful substance from the body. Many rehab centers also help the individual manage his or her withdrawal symptoms, as the detox period can often be painful and discomforting. After detox, the individual can move on to formal residential care (at the same facility, in many cases) or even outpatient treatment.
Let’s take a look at the most common levels of drug and alcohol detox.
The most basic, flexible form of detox is ambulatory detoxification. This can have some on-site monitoring and can be delivered by a treatment facility, or it can take place at someone’s home or in a health care clinic. Patients undergoing this form of detox usually make daily trips for monitoring, but they aren’t at risk for acute withdrawal symptoms and they require very little medical supervision. However, those requiring more clinical monitoring are usually overseen by nurses.
Non-Medical Residential Detox
An inpatient or residential detoxification program can be non-medical in nature. While nurses and other trained staff are available for 24-hour monitoring and supervision at a designated facility, the amount of direct care is minimal and the risk of acute withdrawal symptoms is also minimal.
Clinically Managed Residential Detox
Clinically managed residential detox takes place in more of a social setting (meaning less medically supervised), but it still involves a highly experienced staff and a 24-hour inpatient setting.
Medically Supervised Detox
The highest level is medically monitored detoxification (med detox). This is typically reserved for patients at risk of having severe withdrawal symptoms and who require much more medical supervision and even the administration of medication. This type of residential detox is often done in a hospital or similar clinical setting with an appropriately trained medical staff.
How to Find a Detox
We recommend https://www.samhsa.gov/ to find a center near you!