What to Expect When You Are Detoxing

April 28, 2014

A woman having a medical evaluation

Going through addiction rehab can be intense. Users must leave their normal routines, whether for a few hours a day or for several months, to receive treatment. They must also address the complex and difficult aspects related to addiction, but perhaps the most challenging part of rehab is the detox process. This stage of treatment can be intimidating, but, if people know what to expect, they can work through it successfully and begin the next stage of recovery soon thereafter.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms During Detox

When someone begins addiction rehab, she may experience withdrawal symptoms. These occur when an addict stops using a drug. The most common substances that cause withdrawal symptoms are cocaine, alcohol, and opiates.

The symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine, as listed by the National Institute of Health (NIH), include the following issues:
  • Decreased activity
  • Depression
  • Disturbing and vivid dreams
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
The NIH also lists the following potential symptoms of alcohol detox:
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nightmares
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
Opiate withdrawal most often causes flu-like symptoms, which the NIH lists as follows:
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting and cramping
  • Dilated pupils

In other words, it is difficult to detox from a drug, so seek professional help to do so.

History of Medically Supervised Detox

Detox is an important step in many rehab programs, as it is essential for a user to stop taking a substance and to clear it completely out of her body before she begins the rest of treatment. But the detox process has not always been a part of addiction rehab. As SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 45 explains, little to no medical treatment for detox from addictive substances was available before the 1970s. This problem began to change when in 1958 the American Medical Association officially classified alcoholism as a disease. Since then, healthcare professionals have developed several ways to help people manage symptoms of withdrawal.

Stages of Detox

Now that detox has become more common, many treatment centers follow similar guidelines for the detox process.

TIP 45 lists the following three stages of detox treatment:

  • Evaluation: Immediately after an addict enters rehab, she is tested for any substances currently in her bloodstream. This stage of detox often includes a physical and mental health screening, especially to diagnose any co-occurring disorders. The center’s healthcare professionals will use this assessment to customize a treatment plan that best suits her individual needs.
  • Stabilization: Healthcare professionals will assist the user through detox. This stage may or may not incorporate medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, but either way the focus is on helping the person reach a stable and substance-free state.
  • Fostering entry into treatment: Since detox is only the first stage of rehab, it prepares users to complete the rest of treatment. It encourages users to commit to the entire rehab process, instead of leaving the program after detox.

In other words, medically supervised detox can help users get and stay clean from drug abuse.

Where to Find More Information About Detox

Detox is a necessary step in overcoming addiction. A person that quits drugs probably needs professional supervision during detox, as the withdrawal symptoms can be unpredictable and dangerous. Detox is essential to recovery, but it is only the first step in the process: completing an entire rehab program is the most effective way for users to achieve and maintain sobriety.

If you or someone you care about struggles with addiction, then please call us at 615-490-9376. Our admissions coordinators are available to answer your questions about detox, and they can also help you find a quality treatment program.

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