If you or your loved one have made the decision to pursue detoxification to end substance abuse, you have a lot to be proud of. Addiction is a chronic disease that requires treatment like any other.

There are many addiction treatment facilities out there that can help you get started, but it’s helpful to understand what detox actually is and what the different types of detox are, ahead of time, so you can have a productive conversation with an intake coordinator.

What is Drug Detox?

People who abuse alcohol or drugs usually develop a physical dependence on that substance. That physical dependence means the body has adapted to having the substance around, and eventually the body needs the drug in order to function normally.

Drug detox is the act of discontinuing or reducing use of the drug, which then causes withdrawal symptoms as the body tries to adjust again. Although withdrawal symptoms can be different from substance to substance, some of the more common and uncomfortable symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feelings of anxiety or irritability
  • Rapid heart rate and sweating
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens
  • Hallucinations
  • Gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea or abdominal pain
  • Depression or suicidal idealization

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These withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to excruciatingly uncomfortable. Choosing the right method of detox for you or your loved one should be based on how severe the substance abuse is and any other factors that might influence a person’s ability to succeed in getting sober.

There are two main detox options for people looking to break out of the cycle of addiction:

Medicated Detox

People who go through medicated detox are given medications to help manage the severity of withdrawal symptoms and also to reduce the chances for any medical complications. This helps to reduce the likelihood that people will return to substance abuse just to make the pain go away. Medicated detox is done under the supervision of trained medical professionals in rehabilitation treatment facilities.

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Social Detox

A social detox is a form of rehab that doesn’t involve any medications. Essentially, people opt to go “cold turkey” under the supervisions of staff at the treatment facility. The main responsibility of the staff is to provide emotional and psychological support during the withdrawal process. Though natural, social detox can be extremely uncomfortable for people experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that dealing with symptoms without reprieve may increase the likelihood for relapse. Because of these dangers, social detox is typically not recommended for people detoxing from alcohol, benzos, opioids or barbiturates.

Detoxification: Next Steps

Choosing the right treatment facility for you or your loved one’s withdrawal and detox process is crucial. Detox is just the first step on the road to recovery – you or your loved one are going to need a solid support system and empathetic experts to help you manage the bumps in the road you will inevitably face as you get your life back on track.

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