Medical drug detox is the first stage of treatment for substance use disorders. Medical detox treats drug and alcohol dependence and safely manages the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Alone, medical detox does little to change long-term drug use, but when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, medical detox is a powerful tool that can help people achieve long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
What Is Medical Drug Detox?
Medical drug detox is a set of interventions aimed at managing intoxication and acute withdrawal symptoms. When a person suddenly stops using drugs and alcohol or reduces the amount they normally use, their bodies will experience a set of symptoms known as withdrawal syndrome. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches are some common withdrawal symptoms people may experience when they cease drug and alcohol use.
The abrupt discontinuation of some substances can increase the risk for life-threatening complications like seizures and heart failure. Medical detox takes place in a supervised medical environment where patients can avoid these potentially life-threatening complications. Patients receive 24-hour medical care and monitoring, as well as medications that reduce or eliminate some or all withdrawal symptoms.
What Is At-Home Detox?
At-home detox is a term used to describe the process of withdrawing from drugs and alcohol at home without medical assistance. Most people who detox at home usually quit cold turkey and use over-the-counter medicines in an attempt to relieve their symptoms. This puts these individuals at great risk for serious withdrawal-related health complications.
Some people may buy at-home drug and alcohol detox kits from websites or health stores that claim to safely treat withdrawal. However, these products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and usually only contain herbs and supplements that do very little to help relieve symptoms.
What Are the Dangers of At-Home Detox?
Detoxing at home can be extremely dangerous for those who use high amounts of drugs or substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines that carry a high risk for complications during withdrawal. For instance, MedlinePlus reports that people drinking heavily on a daily basis for at least 10 years and who stop drinking alcohol are at high risk for delirium tremens—a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens is a life-threatening medical emergency and can lead to seizures, irregular heartbeat, and death.
Detoxing at home can also lead to dehydration and malnutrition. Withdrawal symptoms of vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, while people who feel too ill to properly care for themselves may not eat or consume liquids and can suffer from malnourishment.
Another serious danger of detoxing at home is the potential for drug overdose. Often, withdrawal symptoms can be so severe to the point people start using drugs again to find relief from symptoms. However, quitting drugs like heroin and painkillers for just one day can reduce a person’s tolerance level and make them more susceptible to poisoning and overdose.
What Are the Benefits of Medical Detox?
Medical drug detox offers a countless number of benefits for those in recovery from drug and alcohol dependence. First, medical detox takes place in a controlled environment where patients can safely withdraw from drugs and alcohol while being monitored and supervised. This greatly reduces the risk for complications since nurses and doctors can intervene at any time.
Second, medical detox allows patients to recover in a quiet, relaxing environment where they can focus on recovery without having to manage responsibilities related to work, school, or home. Third, medical detox gives patients access to medications that effectively relieve withdrawal symptoms. Some medications, such as methadone for opioid use disorder, can only be used at a drug rehab center under close medical supervision and cannot be prescribed for at-home use.
Some drug and alcohol rehab centers offer luxury amenities and services that can make drug detox more comfortable and bearable. Nutritious meals, daily housekeeping services, and mindfulness meditation are some services that can help make drug detox a better experience.
Medical Detox at America’s Rehab Campuses
ARC offers medical drug and alcohol detox treatments that involve the use of medications proven effective at relieving withdrawal symptoms. Our medical detox program can be included as part of a comprehensive drug rehab program that uses therapy to help you recover from your substance use disorder in full. Contact ARC today at 833-272-7342 to begin the treatment process.